This groundbreaking film gets "the treatment" on this release.
Zach Snyder doesn't personally come to your house and put the disc in your player for you.In what has to be the most homoerotic, big-budget, movie extravaganza spectacle since Stanley Kubrick's Spartacus, 300 ts glory. The story of this movie is simple, King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) and 300 Spartans fight the Persians at Thermopylae in 480 B.C. This is basically the story of this film and what ensues, over the course of 10 days, is one the most distinctive displays of courage that has probably ever been exhibited in warfare. Filled with a lot of fighting, carnage, camera tricks, and machismo, this movie makes no apologies for being the ass kicker that it is. Shot against a blue screen, this film seems like it was almost entire conceived inside of a computer. The actors were recorded doing their parts, the film was taken to a post house and suddenly we have a movie the likes of which we have never seen before.
All in all, 300 works because of how rich the source material from Frank Miller is. The fact that Director Zach Snyder used his graphic novel as a storyboard, shows us the level of attention and detail that this movie required. On Blu-ray disc this release, with all the extras, is nothing short of a triumph.
This Blu-ray release comes with the following Picture-In-Picture offerings. They are:
- Creating A Legend
- Bringing the Legend to Life
- The History Behind the Myth
- Bluescreen Picture-In-Picture
Alright, if you like the Picture-In-Picture capability as you are trying to watch the movie, then the first three offerings listed will probably be for you. Also, if you are someone that has seen this movie a gazillion times (and chances are you are one of those people if you are buying this disc), then these features will most likely make you happy. However, I personally went more with the Bluescreen Picture-In-Picture feature because it allows users to compare the pre-CGI version to the finished movie. I always love things like this because we get to see how the movie looked before the computer, and the tech guys, got their hands on it. See all of your favorite scenes in a before and after style that adds a lot to this whole experience.
300 Spartans - Fact or Fiction
Preparing for Battle
I think that this featurette could have been a part of the Picture-In-Picture offering. I feel that way because, again, we get to see the original test footage from this film against the effect that was finally achieved. I know I probably should have reviewed something else, but I love test footage for films. This is where the real creative process seems to present itself. As what we are seeing is a test, nobody knows how well it is going to do or what the final look will be. That Snyder and his team were able to get the results they did this early in the game, that surely must've given them confidence along the way.
Who Were the Spartans?
Frank Miller Tapes
Frank Miller is a truly gifted artist and here he gets to break down his feelings for the work, and why he felt that this story should be told. When listening to a person of Miller's cachet, it soon becomes apparent that he is one of the smarter people that you are going to spend time with. He seemed to always get the core idea of what 300 was about, which is man's inhumanity to man. By delving deeply into that he was able to tap into the male energy/psyche that is so heavily on display in 300. As it pervades the graphic novel it makes sense that it would also come across strongly on the screen.
Audio Commentary with Zach Snyder
Zach Snyder obviously loves this material otherwise there wouldn't be so many versions of this release on home video. It is apparent that this commentary track was done some time ago, but none of that really effects how this piece comes off. He sits back and regales us with stories of how the project came together, how the look of the movie was achieved, and what it was like making such a mythic tale. What always impresses me about people like Snyder is how easy he makes the process seem. I would certainly recommend listening to this track if you haven't already.
1080p High Definition. 16x9 - 2.4:1. The special features are partially in 1080i High Definition and partially in 480i or 480p standard definition. Okay, I don't think it is going to surprise anybody that this movie looks really good on Blu-ray disc. I saw this film in the theater and, aside from things being bigger because of the mechanics of it being a movie theater, this movie played equally as well on Blu-ray disc. The colors were all vibrant and at times things looked so good that it seemed like they were in 3-D on my television set. There are no moments were things looked overly compressed, and I wouldn't be surprised if Snyder and his Director of Photography Larry Fong had a hand in its transfer.
Dolby TrueHD English and French 5.1. Dolby Digital: English and Spanish 5.1. Special Features in Stereo. Subtitles in English, French and Spanish. The audio on this release was awesome. As I have stated in previous reviews, I don't have my system set up in a surround sound capacity. That said this movie is really strongly put together in an audio sense. We get the thudding, crunching sound of the Spartans moving into battle, mixed with the music underscoring that that makes this experience feel very large. Even in the quieter moments, this movie pulsates with the audio displaying the waves crashing against rocks, or the ambient sounds of the area with which the Spartans are traversing.
This packaging makes this release an instant collector's item. Given to users in an embossed book form, we get an image of Gerard Butler's face as he ascends to battle. The back of this release showcases the disc, and the 40-page book that comes with this release. The book gives users exclusive photos, as well as more information on this film. So many releases come in standard cases with standard artwork. This is usually fine but for the 300 Blu-ray disc it wouldn't have been acceptable. What we get is exceptional. Great job, Warner Bros.
Some people seem to have rejected this movie simply because it seems like there is a CGI hand in everything. These same people have no problems with the ponderously slow Lord of the Rings because, I guess, coming from Peter Jackson that movie is seen as more of an art film. Yet, if one were to sit back and really examine what the 300 is, they would applaud Zach Snyder for creating this epic period movie for only $60 million. Sure, it does get sort of lame with its whole meathead/tough-guy vibe, but by and large I think when the history books are rewritten, this movie will be seen as moving the medium of film an evolutionary step forward.
300 has its flaws. It isn't accurate (or so I am told), it seems to pander to typical stereotypes, but all of this gets overshadowed by just how ambitious this project is. It is great that Blu-ray disc can bring all of this out in one nice package.