"300: Two-Disc Special Edition" DVD Review
July 27, 2007 by James Harvey
Itís been a while since Iíve seen a movie divide the movie-going public and fans in such a fashion as 300. Some hate the movie, others love it to death. The slick graphics and fight scenes won over many, while others found it to be an excessive bore. Personally, I enjoyed the film. Is it perfect? No. But the action scenes are amazing, the actors are in ridiculously good shape and look quite good, and the computer graphics are astounding. There are a couple dumb moments here and there, but those can be easily swept aside. Itís pure testosterone, and it makes no attempts to hide it. And now, all the blood, guts, and glory is coming to DVD.
The epic graphic novel by Frank Miller (Sin City) assaults the screen with the blood, thunder and awe of its ferocious visual style faithfully recreated in an intense blend of live-action and CGI animation. Retelling the ancient Battle of Thermopylae, it depicts the titanic clash in which King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) and 300 Spartans fought to the death against Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) and his massive Persian army. Experience history at swordpoint. And moviemaking with a cutting edge. This is the stunning tale of 300 brave soldiers. This is history you will never forget.
I remember being captivated by the teaser trailer. It looked sharp and almost poetic in their unveiling. The teaser was executed perfectly, selling the audience on not only beautiful imagery of the movie, but the approach the filmmakers were taking. The trailers merely sealed the deal, as far as I was concerned. Like the synopsis above says, the movie is based on a graphic novel by Frank Miller. That, in itself, had me pretty excited, mostly because it was based on a story he wrote before his talents started to slide. His current stuff? Not so good. His older stuff? Some of the best comics money can buy. His early Sin City, Daredevil, Batman: Year One, and The Dark Knight Returns are just a couple of the awesome things heís put his name to (the less said about The Dark Knight Strikes Again or All Star Batman & Robin, The Boy Wonder the better). I knew I was going to be in for a great movie.
Much like Sin City, it had some of that over-the-top dialogue and violence, stuff that youíd never take seriously for a moment. But that just adds to the movieís overall appeal. Itís not a complex movie by any means. Itís visually stunning, yes, but has a rather simple plot. Itís rather shameless, as you can obviously tell by the commercials and trailers, and holds nothing back. Itís a movie where the plot doesnít really matter. It does, yes, to keep the story rolling, but thatís not why everyone rushed out to see it. The style, the action, the eye candy, all of that played a role in selling the movie. And you wonít be disappointed. Clearly adapted from Millerís tale, 300 is gorgeously designed and well directed. Sure, the shouting and somewhat fascist overtones can get tiring, but itís a blast to watch.
While the visuals are amazing, the actors deserve some recognition. Filmed in a warehouse in Montreal, save for one scene, they do brilliant job throwing us into a time long forgotten. Butler proves to be a power lead actor, with his amazingly sculpted body and fiery eyes. Leana Hedley, playing the Queen, brings surprising strength to her somewhat brief role. Every actor seems very dedicated to the movie, giving 100%.
The movie, oddly enough, is also cheerful in its violence, leaving specs of humor along the way. If this movie was so excessively grim, which is an easy impression to get from the commercials and trailers, itís hard to say if it could be so easily swallowed. By adding the humor, we can accept the style-over-story approach. We can accept the sheer brutality and violence heaped upon us. Itís difficult to write movies, especially when the review is mostly praising what I see, but I try. And 300 here is giving me some difficulty, of course (so, if you find this review sub-par, my apologies). Itís not a perfect movie, by all means, but with the humor and stunning visuals, itís a fun one to watch.
The DVD is probably one of WBís better two-disc efforts. Slowly, my memories of the disappointing Batman Begins release is being wiped away. Itís no Superman Returns: Two-Disc Widescreen Edition, but it still has a nice collection of extras. Before I get to the good, let me get the bad out of the way. To my great disappointment, there were no 300 movie trailers included. I believe these were integral in the movieís success and should have been included. Very disappointing.
With that out of the way, letís get to the good, shall we? I have to say I was very pleased to see a trailer for the upcoming Superman/Doomsday release. Itís nice to see WB is promoting this upcoming animated flick on one of their most anticipated releases to date. And that Trick ĎR Treat movie WB is so adamant to tell you about on the DVD packaging? Just a trailer, and not a bad one at that. The two-disc set is, of course, full of trailers which are easily skippable.
So, what about the real extras? The only extra material on the first disc is an audio commentary with Director Zack Snyder, Writer Kurt Johnstad, and Director of Photography Larry Fong. The rest of the bonus material can be found on the second disc. That second disc holds a handful of deleted scenes with a director's intro, a ďThe 300 - Fact or Fiction?Ē featurette, a ďWho Were The Spartans: The Warriors of 300Ē featurette, a ďFrank Miller TapesĒ featurette, webisodes that go behind the scenes on the set of 300, and a photo gallery. With the commentary, itís a pretty well-rounded collection. Donít expect much from the deleted scenes. They only contain three scenes which deserved to be cut, not really adding anything to the movie (though why WB would spoil a plot twist on the back of the DVD packaging to promote these cut scenes is beyond me). It is amazing how bare this set wouldíve seemed had been no commentary.
The audio and video are near flawless. I can only image how great this movie will look on HD-DVD and Blu-Ray. The audio is near perfect, with every piece of dialogue and thunderous sound effect easily distinguishable. The video, of course, is as sharp as standard DVD can get, and is probably WBís best transfer since Batman Begins. WB is usually on the ball with their audio and video transfers, and this continues that. It looks simply smashing, and the sound is vivid and almost perfect. This is a movie made for home viewing.
This release pretty much has it all: a visually stunning movie, a beautiful audio and video transfer, a nice collection of extras. Having an opportunity to view the single-disc release, the 300: Two-Disc Special Edition is definitely the one to pick up. The film is a colorfully stylish and fun epic, wanting nothing more than to entertain for the two hour running time. And is there anything wrong with that? Not really, no. Itís a fun flick, made solely as a feast for the eyes (in more than one way). It goes without saying that this movie comes Highly Recommended. For those who didnít like the movie, this might serve as an opportunity to give it a second chance.
300 hits shelves July 31st, 2007, in standard DVD (Widescreen, Full Screen, and Two-Disc Special Edition), HD-DVD, and Blu-Ray.