When 300 was released back in 2006, its visual style felt arguably revolutionary. It did have its set of opposers, but the aesthetic worked in bringing audiences out as 300 took in over $400 million worldwide at the box office. It helped that the marketing reached out to multiple demographics as not only was it an action film, but historical fantasy with lots of skin. While nudity is nothing new, it felt refreshing to see thousands of male bodies on display in a big-budget production for a genre largely marketed towards straight men.
300 surrounds King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) as he leads the 300 Spartans into battle against an army of more than 300,000 Persian soldiers in 480 B.C. Blending in fantasy creatures into the narrative, audiences experience a fictional version of the battle along with other questionable historical inaccuracies.
Zack Snyder at the time was a director on the rise who has gained plenty of notoriety in film now especially with his efforts in the DC Universe (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice being one of the most controversial entries amongst fans). This aesthetic is something he continued with much of his filmography including my personal favorite Sucker Punch, a feminist/sexist (depends who you ask) form of escapism from the brutal realities of being wrongfully locked up in an insane asylum.
Now, several years later, 300 looks familiar and it’s up to the actual film itself to keep it alive. With that being said, it definitely would stand up more in 2020 if the exposition scenes were given the same treatment as the action sequences. While Snyder pays great detail to the slow-motion, muscle gazing photography, the characters themselves feel dry and as thin as the paper the comics were printed on.
What makes 300 fun to revisit is seeing some familiar faces at an earlier phase of their careers. The obvious example would be Gerard Butler taking the lead, cementing his status as the go-to actor for B-movie status natural disaster movies. Lena Headey is fun to watching taking her original queen seat as HBO subscribers recognize her from “Game of Thrones.” The one face I did not remember seeing until this rewatch was Michael Fassbender, one of our best living actors. While this group of talent gets lost in the cinematics, the HDR upgrade helps bring a new light to the visuals. While close-ups are given new clarity, the overall presentation doesn’t feel like too much of an overhaul. The original Blu-ray release was already a beautiful release, so much to the point that it hasn’t been retouched and included along with this 4K disc. However, the new Dolby Atmos track is what sells it. Weather effects and battle sounds fill out the speakers and will keep consumers engaged. Aside from the technical specs, no new special features were added to this release.
Unless you’re already an established fan or just love homoerotic photography reminiscent of The Road Warrior, it is okay to stick with the original Blu-ray release of 300.
The visual masterpiece from director Zack Snyder is now available on Ultra HD Blu-ray™ Combo Pack and Digital.