From a long list of sword-and-sandal movies, and an even longer list of films from the revived fantasy genre combined, 300 is the most banal and annoying of them all. I remember when a history student friend told me the story about the 300 Spartans. His rendition sent shivers down my spine, and he didn't use one single special effect. Zack Snyder's version hardly features one scene without a special effect, and the film still has nothing to offer.
Based on Frank Miller's graphic novel, one would expect that the result would contain some of the flair and courage of Robert Rodrigues' Sin City, but Snyder's 300 is all about roars, crudeness and testosterone. He might as well have parked his car outside the cinema and burned his rubber for two hours. The film is utterly uncreative in its execution - every line, every character and every plot twist is a bad carbon copy from the ultimate B-movie template. The film is not even well-done from a technical point of view: The non-dynamic cgi-graphics look like muddy canvases and the sound editing leaves everything to be desired (what's up with the voice of Xerxes?).
It is painfully clear that Snyder's objective here is exclusively to be as cool as possible. Unfortunately, he forgets the most important aspect to this objective in the process - the main reason another "cool" filmmaker succeeded in exactly this mission last decade: dialogue. In 300, the dialogue is thoroughly and painfully low-brow - to a degree that it sometimes makes lines from the Rambo-movies sound Shakespearian. Miller's novels are often hailed for their subtlety and clever writing. 300 has nothing of this. What it does have, however, is a narcissistic, unhumorous immaturity that is meant to appeal to the viewers 'my-dad-is-stronger-than-your-dad'-instinct. The effect is dull at its best and offensive at its worst. Snyder manages to tone down or omit the most important aspects the battle had in the first place: the strategies and the shrewdness that made this feat possible for the Spartans.
Genre buffs might get fooled by the alleged artistic stylization or the relentless special effects into thinking this is a good film. But underneath the shallow shell hides a cowardly, insignificant little movie with obsolete and ridiculously one-dimensional characterizations of heroes and villains. A movie that unaffectedly presents Persians as plain, slave-holding barbarians, and that thinks it has something important to say about democracy, bravery and heroism. A conceited worldview that is all too manifested in the current political situation in the world for this film to be anything but nauseating.