300 [2006 / 2012] [Premium Collection SteelBook] [Blu-ray + UV Copy] [UK Release]
Prepare For Glory!
Adapted from the book by Frank Miller, this is a modern retelling of the Battle of Thermopylae of 480 BC, when the 100,000 strong invading Persian Army of King Xerxes was held back in a narrow mountain pass by 300 Spartans. King Leonidas [Gerard Butler] is given four days by Persia's King Xerxes [Rodrigo Santoro] to lay down his arms and surrender. Rejecting the proposal, the battle ensues, and the Spartans are only defeated by the treachery of a local shepherd Ephialtes [Andrew Tiernan], who shows the Persians a secret route, enabling them to outflank their opponents.
FILM FACT No.1: Awards and Nominations: 2007 Hollywood Film Awards: Win: Hollywood Movie of the Year for Zack Snyder. 2007 Hollywood Post Alliance Awards: Win: Outstanding Color Grading Feature Film in a DI Process for Stefan Sonnenfeld of Company 3. 2008 Screen Actors Guild Awards: Nomination: Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture for Damon Caro (stunt coordinator), Richard Cetrone, Tim Connolly, Scott Cosgrove, Jared S. Eddo, Jonathan Eusebio, Tad Griffith, Daniel Hernandez, David Leitch, Mike Mukatis, Tim Rigby, Matthew Rugetti and Guillermo Grispo. 2008 Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA: Win: Best Action/Adventure/Thriller Film. Win: Best Director for Zack Snyder. Nomination: Best Actor for Gerard Butler. Nomination: Best Supporting Actor for David Wenham. Nomination: Best Supporting Actress for Lena Headey. Nomination: Best Writing for Kurt Johnstad, Michael B. Gordon and Zack Snyder. Nomination: Best Costume for Michael Wilkinson. Nomination: Best Make-Up for Mark Rappaport, Scott Wheeler and Shaun Smith. Nomination: Best Music for Tyler Bates. Nomination: Best Special Effects for Chris Watts, Daniel Leduc, Derek Wentworth and Grant Freckelton. 2008 Art Directors Guild: Nomination: Excellence in Production Design Award for Fantasy Film for Jean-Pierre Paquet (art director), Jim Bissell (production designer), Isabelle Guay (supervising art director) and Nicolas Lepage (art director). 2008 Cinema Audio Society, USA: Nomination: Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for Motion Pictures for Chris Jenkins (re-recording mixer), Frank A. Montaño (re-recording mixer) and Patrick Rousseau (production mixer). 2008 Costume Designers Guild Awards: Nomination: Excellence in Fantasy Film for Michael Wilkinson. 2008 Visual Effects Society Awards: Nomination: Best Single Visual Effect of the Year for the crazy horse sequence for Chris Watts, Gayle Busby and Kirsty Millar. 2008 World Stunt Awards: Win: Taurus Award for Best Fight for Max White, Jon Valera, Daniel Hernandez, Ryan Watson, Matthew Rugetti, Tim Rigby, Jonathan Eusebio, Stéphane Julien and Don Lew. Nomination: Taurus Award for Best Stunt Coordinator and 2nd Unit Director for Best Stunt for Damon Caro and Stéphane Lefebvre.
FILM FACT No.2: In the actual historical event, the Spartans numbers were closer to 7,000 rather than 300. The historical consensus, both among ancient chroniclers and current scholars, was that Thermopylae was a clear Greek defeat; the Persian invasion would be pushed back in later ground and naval battles. Since few records about the actual martial arts used by the Spartans survive aside from accounts of formations and tactics, the fight choreography led by stunt coordinator and fight choreographer Damon Caro, was a synthesis of different weapon arts with Filipino martial arts as the base. Some passages from the Classical authors Aeschylus, Diodorus, Herodotus and Plutarch are split over the movie to give it an authentic flavour. Aeschylus becomes a major source when the battle with the "monstrous human herd" of the Persians is narrated in the film.
Cast: Gerard Butler, Lena Headey, Dominic West, David Wenham, Vincent Regan, Michael Fassbender, Tom Wisdom, Andrew Pleavin, Andrew Tiernan, Rodrigo Santoro, Giovani Antonio Cimmino, Stephen McHattie, Greg Kramer, Alex Ivanovici, Kelly Craig, Eli Snyder, Tyler Neitzel, Tim Connolly, Marie-Julie Rivest, Sébastian St Germain, Peter Mensah, Arthur Holden, Michael Sinelnikoff, John Dunn-Hill, Dennis St John, Neil Napier, Dylan Smith, Maurizio Terrazzano, Robert Paradis, Kwasi Songui, Frédéric Smith, Loucas Minchillo, Nicholas Minchillo, Tom Rack, David Francis, James Bradford, Andrew Shaver, Robin Wilcock, Kent McQuaid, Marcel Jeannin, Jere Gillis, Jeremy Thibodeau, Tyrone Benskin, Robert Maillet (Giant), Patrick Sabongui, Leon Laderach, Dave Lapommeray, Vervi Mauricio, Charles Papasoff, Isabelle Champeau, Veronique-Natale Szalankiewicz, Maéva Nadon, David Thibodeau, David Schaap, Jean Michel Paré, Stewart Myiow, Andréanne Ross, Sara Giacalone, Ariadne Bourbonnière, Isabelle Fournel, Sandrine Mérette-Attiow, Élisabeth Etienne, Danielle Hubbard, Ruan Vibegaard, Geneviéve Guilbault, Bonnie Mak, Amélie Sorel, Caroline Aspirot, Gina Gagnon, Tania Trudell, Stéphanie Aubry, Mercedes Leggett, Stéphania Gambarova, Chanelle Lamothe, Sabrina-Jasmine Guilbault, Manny Cortez Tuazon (#1 Asian Transsexual), Cindy (#2 Asian Transsexual), Atif Siddiqi (#3 Arabian Transsexual), Camille Rizkallah (Giant with Arrow), Trudi Hanley (Long Neck Woman), Neon Cobran (Litter Bearer /Slave), Gary A. Hecker (Ubermortal Vocals), Devin Delorme (uncredited), Deke Richards (uncredited), Darren Shahlavi (uncredited), Marc Trottier (uncredited), Duy Vo Van (uncredited) and Agnieshka Wnorowska (uncredited)
Director: Zack Snyder
Producers: Benjamin Waisbren, Bernie Goldmann, Craig J. Flores, Deborah Snyder, Frank Miller, Gianni Nunnari, Jeffrey Silver, Josette Perrotta, Mark Canton, Nathalie Peter-Contesse, Scott Mednick, Silenn Thomas, Steve Barnett, Thomas Tull, Wesley Coller and William Fay
Screenplay: Kurt Johnstad (screenplay), Michael B. Gordon (screenplay), Zack Snyder (screenplay), Frank Miller (graphic novel) and Lynn Varley (graphic novel)
Composer: Tyler Bates
Cinematography: Larry Fong (Director of Photography)
Image Resolution: 1080p
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: English: 5.1 Dolby TrueHD,
English: 5.1 LPCM Surround
English: 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround
French: 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround
Spanish: 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround
German: 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround
Italian: 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround
French: 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Italian, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish
Running Time: 118 minutes
Region: All Regions
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: Adapting novels for the big screen has always been an imprecise art. Due to inherent differences between the two mediums, inevitably major chunks of the source material get left out, to varying results. Perhaps that's why Hollywood has seen so much success with its adaptations of graphic novels in recent years.
With their thin text, and their bold, image-driven narrative style, even the most niche graphic novels are arguably more camera-ready than your typical best-seller. And with recent advances in CGI, there's no limit to how fantastic the images in these novels may be in fact, if box office receipts are any indication, the more outrageous the imagery, the better.
For these reasons alone, in retrospect, it really should not have surprised me that '300' turned into the sleeper blockbuster of 2007. The original graphic novel, sprung from the mind of Frank Miller 'Sin City' and 'The Dark Knight,' and is like 'Gladiator' on steroids and seemingly tailor-made to get blown up to mega-screen proportions. Enter director Zack Snyder 'Dawn of the Dead,' who’s decision to marry live-action with an intensely graphic visual style was the ideal interpretation of Frank Miller's sensibility. Using every trick of the modern cinema trade to not only bring Frank Miller's comic book panels to life, but to elevate them even further to the level of pop culture myth.
The characters were only thinly sketched-out in the graphic novel, and they're only slightly more embellished in Zack Snyder's vision. King Leonidas [Gerard Butler] is the ostensible hero, has dreamed his entire life of defeating the Persians. He gets his chance after a group of arrogant messengers from the Persian army arrive in Sparta, offering its people the choice between surrender and death. Leonidas has the messengers slaughtered, and decides to amass his 300 strong army at Thermopylae pass, that has a narrow corridor between the steep cliffs of the Aegean Sea. The plan is to limit the Persians' access, thereby making their massive numbers meaningless. As they come through the pass, Leonidas and his army will clobber them, one by one.
And so the stage is set for '300' and an almost non-stop second act cavalcade of phantasmagorical violence, bone-crushing gore and CGI wizardry. Frank Miller turned his Persian warriors into a bizarre, surreal stew of iconic archetypes from deformed warriors to bizarre African animals, raging wizards to the elite guard of the Immortals, complete with scary death masks right out of a 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre' film. Zack Snyder both plays up the fantastical while also stripping the imagery down to its bare essentials. It's all heaving bare flesh, strategically-placed costume details, and bold, digitally drawn-in backgrounds.
Upon its cinema release, reviewers levelled a number of criticisms at '300,' like some said that it was gratuitously violent; others felt that its characters were paper thin to the point of abstraction; and still others felt that it was either the most homoerotic mainstream film ever made or the most misogynist. But while each of these concerns is certainly valid, ultimately they all get crushed under the sheer thrill of Zack Snyder and Frank Miller's bombast spectacle.
'300' is visually dazzling and at 118 minutes you feel you have been part of the awesome battle. Simply put it, I feel Zack Snyder did a brilliant job and should be totally proud of his work. But of course there is a minority out there that say ‘300’ call it sadistic, with extreme portrayals of death in many forms. But at its heart, it's a story of people. People coming together to fight a common enemy, people with a purpose. It's not about a presumptuous king sending his armies to fight faceless men who hide in caves. This is a story about people who, when annihilation is brought to their doorstep, did the brave thing, against all odds, and won a greater victory than any single military mission could ever have brought them. By fighting for their lands and their brethren, they found glory.
Blu-ray Image Quality – '300' Blu-ray disc is shown in an awesome 1080p image presentation and is enhanced in the film's original 2.40:1 aspect ratio, and if nothing else, this is a very accurate reproduction of the theatrical experience of '300.' As director Zack Snyder makes abundantly clear in the included supplements, he intended to jack up the film's contrast and burn down the blacks to better approximate the look of the graphic novel. As such, this high-definition presentation of '300' is predictably flat, with most detail drained from the shadows and highlights lost in a blaze of hot whites. Even exaggerated textures, such as extreme close-ups of flesh, rocky surfaces, etc., look soft and indistinct. Colours are intentionally muted, with an almost sepia-toned hue that turns flesh tones into copper and eliminates much of the colour spectrum except for deeper blues and browns. Adding to the film's 2D feel is the fact that the majority of the backgrounds are animated, with the live action shot in front of a blue screen. Finally, a computer-generated "film grain" has been added to the mix, which gives the image a final coating of jumpiness, with obvious noise in every shot. Yet, despite all this intentional degradation, there is also an undeniable beauty to the rough grandeur of '300's visuals. Sort of like a PIXAR animation on steroids, and the crushed look Zack Snyder intended gives many of the shots great power because they are so simple and exactly like comic book panels come to life. The obvious computer-generated landscapes his digital artists have created also give it that dazzling, pixilated eye-candy look of the coolest videogames. All things considered, I found watching '300' a totally thrilling experience and also an enjoyed a good-looking, awe-inspiring high-definition image. But as a representation of the film's style, there's no debating that this Blu-ray edition of '300' delivers, so much so that even for high-definition purist like myself, and it's impossible to ignore the film's intentionally degraded visual design and so just sit back enjoy the ride of your life.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – Like the image experience, again I have absolutely no reservations about stating that the audio on this disc '300' is a real high-resolution scorcher. This is the kind of film that has such a barn-storming sound design that any caveats I might have are all washed away by the sheer bombastic thrill of it all. Warner Home Video has supplied both next-generation editions with matching 5.1 Dolby TrueHD surround tracks, but this Blu-ray is also graced with an additional 5.1 LPCM Surround sound option. Right up-front, the LPCM sounded a bit louder, but after some level matching, a direct A and B comparison of several scenes revealed only slight differences. Although I'm sure this disc will stir up the whole 5.1 Dolby TrueHD vs LPCM debate, either way it is entirely your choice, because the action scenes in '300' delivers the kind of demo-worthy audio that should be pure nirvana for any home theatre enthusiast. Dynamics are incredibly aggressive, with heart-stopping low bass that gave my subwoofer as good a workout as any next-gen disc I've ever heard. Since the majority of '300's soundtrack was created entirely in the studio, the cleanliness and clarity of the entire frequency range is startlingly lifelike and real. The "wall of sound" effect is in full force, with discrete effects in the rears wonderfully immersive and sustained. Imaging between channels is seamless, so crank up the volume and you'll be treated to the kind of rare, in-your-face 360-degree home theatre sound field that's second only to what you'll find in the actual cinema. Dialogue is also perfectly balanced again, no surprise given that almost the entire movie was looped. But sonically speaking, a film like '300' isn't about people talking to each other, it's about aural spectacle, and when those swords start clashing, and this one knocks it totally out of the park.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
Audio Commentary with Director Zack Snyder, Cinematographer Larry Fong, and Writer Kurt Johnstad: Zack Snyder, Larry Fong, and Kurt Johnstad team up for this audio commentary. Considering how high octane the film is, the audio commentary is very sedate by comparison. Most of the discussion revolves around the technical aspects of the production. Unfortunately you do not get much more interesting comments about all aspects of the film, so it is up to you whether you will be interested or not, but I found it all rather boring.
Special Feature: The 300: Fact or Fiction?  [1080p] [1.78:1] [24:00] This intriguing special feature has many of the film's participants, including Frank Miller, along with several Greek historians, discussing how accurate the film is (or isn't) to the actual events. There's some excellent footage here, both of the participants and actual Greek artefacts. Although this seems clearly shot before the film hit the cinemas (when it came under fire for its "historical accuracy"), Zack Snyder makes a strong case for artistic license and what he chose to leave out or embellish and fabricate and why. Contributors include: Victor Davis Hanson [Dr., author and historian], Zack Snyder [Director], Frank Miller Illustrator], Bettany Hughes [author and historian] and Gerard Butler [Actor].
Special Feature: Who Were the Spartans: The Warriors of 300  [1080p] [1.78:1] [6:00] This short documentary has the actors discussing the historical figures they are portraying on screen. They tell us the customs and the ways of life of the Spartans and how the actors and filmmakers built up their characters.
Special Feature: Preparing For Battle: The Original Test Footage  [1080p] [1.78:1] [6:00] See how Frank Miller’s images were used in a Fight scene test and at the same time we get to see some of the demo footage of director Zack Snyder shot in order to help the Warner Bros. executives understand and finance his vision for ‘300.’ "Preparing for Battle" documents the huge hoops he jumped through, even going so far as to create a "mini-film" comprised of rough animation, digital imagery and narration from actor Scott Glenn. Needless to say, it worked.
Special Feature: The Frank Miller Tapes [Audio only]  [1080p] [1.78:1] [15:00] We get to hear the outspoken Frank Miller telling us that he was against any filmed adaptation of his comic work. That all changed when Robert Rodriguez invited him to be a full collaborator on his adaptation of ‘Sin City.’ Frank Miller is now much more involved with the cinematic versions of his graphic novels, and this extra details the history of ‘300’ and his involvement with it. Though Frank Miller has been known to be "touchy" when it comes to past adaptations of his work, he seems to have nothing but enthusiasm for '300' and both his original graphic novel and director Zack Snyder's daring visual reinterpretation. This is a very nice background information piece.
Special Feature: The Making of ‘300’  [480i] [1.37:1] [38:00] This Promo "Making-Of Feature" documentary, looks at how the film was made. It is split up into different heading, which are as follows: FIRST LOOK; PRODUCTION DESIGN; WARDROBE; STUNT WORK; CREATURES; ADAPTING 300 and SPARTAN CULTURE. This is pretty standard stuff, but still worth a look. Contributors include: Gerard Butler [Actor], Lena Headey [Actress], Frank Miller Illustrator], Rodrigo Santoro [Actor] and Zack Snyder Director].
Special Feature: The Making of ‘300’ in Images  [1080p] [1.78:1] [3:00] You get to see rapid-fire stills from the first day of production until the last day of shooting. This is an extended commercial and appears to be culled from the same material but at least it's better focused, providing a nice opener for all of the extensive technical talk to come.
Special Feature: Production Webisodes  [1080i] [1.78:1] [60:00] This material, is in five minute segments, that were originally made for the ‘300’ website. They're all included here, and together make a nice overview of the production. Unfortunately, these features are not in high definition. The twelve segments are: "A Glimpse from the Set," "Production Design," "Wardrobe," "Lena Headey," "Gerald Butler," "Rodrigo Santoro," "Training the Actors," "Stunt Work," "Adapting the Graphic Novel," "Culture of Sparta City/State," "Scene Studies from '300'" and "Fantastic Characters of '300.'"
Special Feature: Deleted Scenes  [1080p] [1.78:1] [4:00] A short collection of scenes with Zack Snyder introducing each one. None of it feels particularly essential, although like everything else to do with this film, we get a sort of “greatest hits” of lost moments and is not all complete. What we view stands out as essential, although big-time '300' junkies are sure to enjoy the excised "Persian Giant" sequence, which director Zack Snyder apparently deleted, mainly because it was too over the top, as well as being narratively unnecessary. Still, it alone makes the deleted scenes well worth a watch.
Finally, ‘300’ is a chest-beating tale of bravery and valour set in Ancient Greece. Zack Snyder took special care to bring Frank Miller's beloved graphic novel to the screen, and his enthusiasm for the material is infectious. The image is just as the director intended it, and the sound is totally awesome and so much that it alone makes this Blu-ray disc worth purchasing. And while this Blu-ray disc has all of the supplements from the previous inferior DVD release, most of them are in 1080p HD, they are missing several major interactive features found only on the DVD version. Still, for anyone who only wants to purchase this ‘300’ Premium Collection SteelBook Blu-ray, is I feel, the ultimate version to have in your Blu-ray Collection. On top of all that, when I saw this film at the cinema, I was bowled over by the stunning images that were projected on the screen, but now owning my own personal copy makes the wait well worth it and having this ultimate SteelBook is another fantastic bonus, as it is so beautiful and stunning and is now pride of place in my Blu-ray Collection and on top of all that all the extras is another massive bonus, that will give you may endless hours of pleasure. Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Aficionado
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