• A Review Page For Those Movies You Watch At Home!

    Couch Potato Movie Reviews is, obviously, a blog that exclusively reviews movies. What makes this blog different is the fact that all of the films we are reviewing are all movies that are available on home movie rental companies such as Redbox, Netflix, Blockbuster, and your quickly disappearing neighborhood rental store. This blog is designed to take a more detailed look at those movies that either were sent straight to DVD, received a very limited release in the theaters, or were distributed through the art house or film festival circuit. We will also review those big Hollywood films, but only after they are available for home viewing.

    All the reviews are written by fans of the great art of film making rather than some newspaper reviewer or stuffy film student. We don’t know everything about film but we do know what we like, and we are more than happy to share our opinions with you. What you do with those opinions are totally up to you, although comments are welcome and encouraged.

    Each film review has a one to five star rating at the end of the critique. Here is what those star ratings mean for you couch potatoes:

    * * * * * : Five stars: go and buy this one, don’t just rent it!

    * * * * : Four stars: put this at the top of your rental list.

    * * * : Three stars: average, not bad just not great either.

    * * : Two stars: only rent if you have to see everything.

    * : One star: don’t waste your time with this.

300

TITLE: 300

YEAR: 2006

GENRE: Superhero/Comics and Action/Adventure

Sword and sandal films, which were action and occasional fantasy films based in ancient or Biblical times, have dotted the film landscape since D.W. Griffiths released the silent film Intolerance in 1916. Most of these films were low budget quickies and featured mythical figures such as Hercules as well as gladiators and other elements of ancient culture. Big budget Hollywood productions such as Ben-Hur and The Ten Commandments have also been included in this genre despite their budgets, plus fantasy film featuring barbarians such as Conan The Barbarian are also included in the sub-genre. However one defines the sword and sandal films are fine and dandy, but writer Frank Miller and director Zach Snyder channeled the greatest elements of this genre and combined it with great art direction and extreme violence to make 300 the grunting, scratching male epic of the past dozen years.

In 480 B.C. a Persian army that brags over a million soldiers headed by King Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) marches toward Sparta to destroy the inhabitants and burn the city to the ground.Sparta’s king Leonidas (Gerard Butler) and his wife Queen Gordo (Lena Headey) attempts to rally support for the Spartan military to confront the oncoming hordes, but the political leaders and religious scholars refuse stating an upcoming religious holiday. Knowing that Xerxes means to destroy all he holds dear, Leonidas with the help of his trusted captain Artemis (Vencent Regan) organizes a group of three hundred of his most trained soldiers who have already fathered sons to march north and confront the Persians and their conquered cultures in a narrow pass where the Persian numbers means nothing. The Battle of Thermopylae has begun, and the three hundred Spartans along with a few hundred Athenians will have to fight to the death to protect their beloved homeland.

The plot is simple enough, but what makes 300 so special include amazing art direction, stylized violence, and some good acting and writing. The art direction in 300 is utterly fantastic, as the film uses lots of brown and gold tones to create a more natural, earthen look to 300. Many of the action scenes are amazingly well done and are complete eye candy: the early scene with Persian scouts riding over the horizon on horses is details and beautiful including the horses kicking up dirt in slow motion; the slow motion fight scenes are wonderful in their execution and is as beautiful as extreme violence could ever be created; the ending still of the Spartan army on the battlefield looks like a Renaissance-era painting. The fight scenes are well choreographed and flow almost like a blood-soaked ballet at times. It is also interesting to see the Odyssey-style influence in 300 from the Spartan’s perspective, including ghoulish looking Persian warriors, hundred foot tall elephants, and a nine foot tall Xerxes. The writing is also surprisingly good as there are several sub-plots in 300, including Leonidas’ passion for his beloved wife (including one of the most passionate love scsnes ever filmed) and Artemis’ relationship with his son Astinos (Tom Wisdom) especially after the son is killed on the battlefield. The acting is mostly tough guy portrayals as would be expected, but David Wenham delivers an Academy-Award worthy performance as Dilios, a typical Spartan warrior that has an unusual talent as a speaker and storyteller. Most of the battle, which is based on an actual historical event, is not very historically accurate, but that is not the intention here although the film does deliver some interesting and true facts about the Spartan society: the opening story of how babies were inspected and Spartan children spending their adolescence in violent military training is historical fact, plus Spartan women were unusually treated as equals in ancient society because, as Queen Gordo puts it so eloquently in the film, “only Spartan women give birth to real men.” In addition, the musical score by Tyles Bates (Sucker Punch, Watchmen) is a fantastic combination of Middle Eastern styles combined with majoestic at times and somber at others symphonic music which is a perfect complement to the finished product.

This film created a swarm of controversy among history buffs pointing out its inaccuracies and the government of Iran (the descendants of the historical Persians), in which Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad staed 300 was a slam on ancient Persian culture as well as aHollywoodattack on the modernization of Iran. These people completely missed the intentions of 300 as it is more geared as a testosterone-fueled epic of ancient warfare and subsequent violence, and in this area the film is a tremendous success. The movie 300 is the ultimate war epic that delivers a stylistic production and plenty of action and blood-drenched mayhem. Highly recommended.

* * * * *

–Mark

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