Film Review: 300
To be perfectly honest, we only went along as we're holding out for the sequel: 301 - the utterly true story of how a small band of darts players, led by Crafty Cockney Sir Eric Bristow, saved Britain during the Blitz, but this would have to do for now.
The Iranian government really doesn't want you to see '300'. Like most outraged protests against popular culture, they probably haven't seen it yet at the Tehran Roxy, but it is a film that has made President Mad Dog Ahmadinejad so cross he can't even go to the toilet properly.
"This film," said a government spokesman, "is an example of psychological warfare against Iran and its people. Go and watch Norbit instead. That Eddie Murphy, he's a gas."
They've got a point, truth be told. 300, whilst the most spectacular retelling of the Battle of Thermopylae, the Persian foe resemble no Iranians that I know, and accusations that the film may be racist - whether intentionally or not - are not easily dismissed. But then, it's a simple Black Hat vs White Hat, good against evil, in the long tradition of Hollywood. The world may have moved on, but the action movie remains the same.
The ancient historian Herodotus tells of a million-strong Persian army that stripped the countryside for miles around and drank rivers dry; and a three day battle in the narrows of Thermopylae, where three hundred Spartans held back Xerxes' army back long enough to rally the rest of Greece behind them.
300's jaw-dropping CGI does well to convey the sheer magnitude of the invasion, yet, the basic story aside, realism is thrown right out of the window.
Loaded with U.S. vs Them imagery, the Persians are portrayed as swarthy sexual deviant warmongers bent only on the destruction of those good, white, European Greeks. Unable to learn from their mistakes, they use force of numbers against the more intelligent, better organised Spartans to no avail. Because, hell yeah, we're number one.
Sparta itself is seen as rolling wheat fields, as lush and bountiful as the American Midwest; while the Spartan army is the US military, outnumbered yet still winning surrounded by these Godless Al Qaeda curs miles from their homeland, helped only by their barely competent British ..err.. Greek buddies, who run off home as soon as the game is up.
Even those cowardly, treacherous Democrats are there, cowardly, treacherous and shagging about while the Real Men are out there, kicking Iranian ..errr.... Foreign ...err... Persian butt.
All this aside, this is - and to quote my companion of the night - the choppingest film I've ever seen. Do not care that in adapting Frank Miller's graphic novel, Zack Snyder has driven a large bus through the historical facts - a large double decker with "History? ARSE!" painted down the side - 300 beats all the "Rings" movies into a cocked hat with the sheer intensity, guts, gore and sub-bass rumble of its battle scenes. You see heads, arms, legs, bits of hors, rhino and elephant - and I might have been imagining here - a Zoidberg-type gentleman with lobster claws for arms chopped off, impaled, skewered or cooked in an orange sauce.
It is all beautifully choreographed, and there are stages where you forget you are seeing some of the most gruesome deaths ever committed to celluloid and just wonder at the sheer hideous beauty of it all. 300 is, all told it is a loud, bloody, and downright exhilarating experience.
Forget the plot holes, the stilted dialogue, the ham-fisted political imagery. 300 is the most intense action movie you will see for a long, long time. Not one for the family on Mother's Day, mind.
I am told that the IMAX version is even better...
And if there is a moral of this tale, it is this: The lack of an inclusive disability policy will be your downfall, soldier. I think.
Coming soon: In a world going mad - an epic tale of mirth, woe and a quest for carrots. In pre-production as we speak, Duck (Scary) Pictures present Bummy Rabbit Adventures.