December 03, 2007 by Marshal Rosenthal
Frank Miller’s no PC poster boy, and I’ve been impressed by his graphic work ever since he reinvented Batman back in the late 80’s. But in “300” he took the battle of Thermopylae in 480 B.C., where Spartan warriors held back a massive army of Persians and broke it through every perception pore there is. So does the film fulfill his vision on the screen as it did on paper? And what about the all-digital aspect that failed so miserably in “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow?” All I can say is “Wow,” because it all works here; whether that is the intensity of the characters, the world they inhabit or the ultra-violence that continues unabated until the final curtain is rung down in rivers of blood. Not for the squeamish is an understatement here.
A film like this needs to be highly detailed and that is why HD makes so much sense. A regular DVD can’t handle the visuals of sword cutting flesh or fist smacking the meaty pouch of someone’s stomach - there’s a need here for a sharpness that extrudes from the background. So let’s not say that things look more “real” but instead more disturbing because the violence expands past the gross and becomes painfully clear to our eyes. And in doing so the digital effects helps to augment what we’re viewing and to make it seem correct for what it is.
This can be considered an “action movie” in that there’s heavy duty use of surrounds and so having the choice of using TrueHD only makes for a more powerful experience. At some point volume takes over for nuances but that balance is up to the listener looking to get that much closer to the experience of the movie theater at home.
There’s a wealth of the usual suspects describing how the film was made, the CG created, deleted scenes and even a game to test your ability at conquering others - some of which is in high-definition. But there’s also some web-enabled functionality; one being to allow editing the film to create your own montage to share with others on a Warner web site. There’s also the option of purchasing “300” wallpaper and ringtones from online which can then be downloaded to your cell phone. That’s a cool way to keep the experience of “300” alive long after the film has ended, and you can bet all the hordes of Persia that the studios realize what this kind of stuff can mean to their coffers in the future.
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Disc Specs and Credits
Format reviewed: HD DVD
Disc Size: Combo disc (HD DVD and DVD)
Aspect Ratio: 1080p, 2.4:1
Audio: Dolby Digital Plus 5.1, Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Director: Zack Snyder
Screenwriters: Zack Snyder and Kurt Johnstad
Starring: Gerard Butler, Lena Headey, Dominic West, David Wenham, Vincent Regan, Michael Fassbender, Tom Wisdom, Andrew Pleavin, Andrew Tiernan, Rodrigo Santoro, Giovani Cimmino, Stephen McHattie, Greg Kramer, Alex Ivanovici, Kelly Craig
Studio: Warner Bros. Home Video
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