In the Battle of Thermopylae of 480 BC an alliance of Greek city-states fought the invading Persian army in the mountain pass of Thermopylae. Vastly outnumbered, the Greeks held back the enemy in one of the most famous last stands of history. Persian King Xerxes lead a Army of well over 100,000 (Persian king Xerxes before war has about 170,000 army) men to Greece and was confronted by 300 Spartans, 700 Thespians, and 400 Thebans. Xerxes waited for 10 days for King Leonidas to surrender or withdraw but left with no options he pushed forward. After 3 days of battle all the Greeks were killed. The Spartan defeat was not the one expected, as a local shepherd, named Ephialtes, defected to the Persians and informed Xerxes that the separate path through Thermopylae, which the Persians could use to outflank the Greeks, was not as heavily guarded as they thought. Written by
...Wonderful productions, I wonder how much I've been influenced by exposure to the various thumbs of armchair critics. However, there can be little influence from naysayers about this film because I am a true fan of the sword and sandal classics.
In retrospect, one wouldn't be surprised that the entire film was shot on green-screen sets, but it was so masterfully (or at least distractedly) done that you don't think about the dramatic skies and wheat fields as piped in. In fact, the entire cg aspect was transparent, which even the Matrix and the Lord of the Rings series had not managed to do completely.
The stylization of the effects, such as the radiant glow, deepened shadows, and slow motion sequences, seemed to emphasize the movie's illustrated roots, and though sometimes I found myself wishing I could see clearer, I always found deep satisfaction and immersion in the storyline. I think without the effects the plot would have required more elaboration, and turning a piece of art into another 'Gladiator' look-alike.
This movie is going on my keeper list, as I found it very comforting to watch, inspiring, and I will never tire of looking at (finally) scantily clad men, especially Gerard. The kingly figure of Leonidas, cloaked in red as is his Spartiate warriors, reminds me of the warrior class and king from George Nader's sci-fi book 'Chrome'. Romantically idealized, the simplistic portrayal of virtue and honor are purely portrayed by a directly stylized hero.
Of course, the villain was just as idealized, and therein is the complaint. Nobody likes a baddie without explanation, and perhaps the studio thought that being a Persian god was explanation enough. I would have enjoyed a much more developed Xerxes, but Ru Paul did a great job on the part. Just kidding. Rodrigo Santoro was superb, as big and evil as the comic portrays, and he does a good job overwhelming the much smaller king of Spartans.
The acting was good, and the script solid enough, all in all earning a rating of an 8, but as promised, tanned and bearded men with valor earns it a 10. We need more movies like this.
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