300, Zack Snyder, scr. Zack Snyder, Kurt Johnstad, Michael B. Gordon based on 300 by Frank Miller, st. Gerard Butler, Lena Headey, David Wenham, Dominic West, Vincent Regan, Rodrigo Santoro, Michael Fassbender
Sparta, where the pants are small and the chests are hairless and oiled. Kind Leonidas (Butler) collects 300 of his finest soldiers in order to orchestrate a pre-emptive attack on God-king Xerxes (Santoro, pierced and androgynous) after drop-kicking a Persian messenger down a well. Spartans are proud and are indoctrinated in youth to show no fear and regard any personal weakness as irredeemable failing, and so off they trudge; 300 soldiers against a gazillion Persians (whose mobile court tents hold all manner of exotic malformations and erotic deformities). Any symbolism of East/West aggression and superiority as well as any allegorical homophobic undertones are clearly bunkum. Snyder has selected a great story, skeletal and sinewy in its uncluttered depiction of bravery and nationalism, and forged a visually arresting and dynamic piece of pop-photoplay. Even if the trailer-y choreography and hyper-stylised mise-en-scène suggest the importance of form over content (which compared with later efforts from Snyder such as Watchmen and Sucker Punch make it seem like a Director finding his eyes), there's enough on display here to entertain and even to wonder at.