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DVD Review: 300
Tom Slaski   |  

Finally, after 2500 years, the DVD for
300 has been released. Well, it’s actually been only a few months since its theatrical debut, but the historical, bloody, action-packed events depicted in 300, based on Frank Miller‘s graphic novel, happened in Greece well before the birth of Christ.

Three DVD versions of 300 were released on last week. The Single Disc Edition; the Two-Disc Special Edition, which has an embossed wrap around cover; and the Deluxe Edition, which includes a replica of the mask worn by the Immortals, the elite Persian fighting force. Where I purchased Two-Disc Special Edition for $22.99, the regular edition was $14.99, the Deluxe edition was sold out by the afternoon, but the other two editions were prominently exposed in abundance.

There are a few reasons I wanted to purchase the Two-Disc Special Edition version. One reason is that I am a comic book collector and 300 is literally Frank Miller’s graphic novel brought to life. Miller is a legendary comic creator and has already gotten the movie treatment for another of his works, Sin City. Sin City was a very close adaptation of Miller’s vision, which was the main goal for director Zack Snyder‘s when making 300 into a film. Snyder said, “I didn’t want to make Hollywood’s version of 300, I wanted to make Frank Miller’s version of 300.”

We learn this and a lot of other tidbits of information about the film in the Special Features sections of both Discs One and Two.

Disc One Special Feature
Commentary by director Zack Snyder, writer Kurt Johnstad and director of photography Larry Fong. This is where all these guys sit around and discuss the film while you’re watching it. It is worthwhile because Snyder is so enthusiastic about the project. That is also the reason why I have hope for Watchmen movie, which he is also directing. There is also a video where, mostly, Snyder gives a short explanation of how he got the studio to agree to make the film. It is actually really interesting and amazing to see how he finally did it.

Disc Two Special Features
The 300 – Fact or Fiction
Who Were the Spartans?: The Warriors of 300
Frank Miller Tapes
Making of 300
Making 300 in Images
Deleted Scenes with Introduction by Director Zack Snyder
Production Design
Stunt Work
Lena Heady
Adapting the Graphic Novel
Gerard Butler
Rodrigo Santoro
Training the Actors
Culture of the Sparta City/State
A Glimpse from the Set: Making 300 the Movie
Scene Studies from 300
Fantastic Characters of 300

Another reason I wanted to purchase the Two-Disc Special Edition version of 300 was because it is one of the most visually striking movies I have ever seen, and the only one I would ever even compare to The Matrix, and because it is based on a kick-ass historical event. The 300 – Fact or Fiction feature made me appreciate this tale even more. It is by far the best extra on the disc, and by far the longest at 24 minutes, and has those involved with the flick, along with two historians, gauge the historical accuracy of the story. Miller admits that he took a lot of liberties, but the two historians really feel that the story is true to its roots. The historians cover the culture of the warriors of Sparta and how only a small number of them held back a horde of Persian invaders at an actual geographic location in Greece some 2500 years ago for a 3-day period. It was wild to see how much is known about the actual event and cool to see what Miller kept verbatim and what he changed to suit his purposes. The rest of the Special Features are actually a let down, or more of a tease I should say.

The Special Features just barely tap into the subjects covered. In Frank Miller Tapes, we get to know Miller a little and hear from some of his comic industry colleagues. This is pretty well done, and slightly in depth, but leaves a lot to be desired. Making of 300 is just an overview and the Webisodes are just really shallow, quick glimpses of the subject matter.

In Making 300 in Images they took a bunch, probably hundreds if not thousands, of still photos and animated them together to get a time-lapse filming effect. If you pause the DVD and use the Step feature, you can actually view each one of the photos. This came in handy when I thought I saw the scene with Leonidas and Gorgo in bed on the night before he heads out. Out comes the Step feature and I’m off. It turns out that it was not only just a lighting test for the scene, but it wasn’t even Gerard Butler and Lena Headley, but two stand-ins, and the female was wearing a skin suit and she was hurtin’. Bogus!

Another reason I wanted to get the Two-Disc Special Edition version was because on the commercial for it they taunted about finding out what the actors did to get in such good shape for their roles. Let’s face it, I want to look like them, and my wife wants me to also! Unfortunately, they only offer a cursory glance of the techniques used. Lucky I’m in pretty good shape anyway. Right, Honey?

Great graphic novel. Great movie. Great DVD. Special features, besides The 300 – Fact or Fiction and Frank Miller Tapes, not so much. The casual watcher does not need the Two-Disc Special Edition DVD for 300. The featurettes are alright, but I don’t think I needed to shell out an extra 40% more money to see them. Since it took 2500 years for 300 to finally get to DVD and it’s such a good movie, regardless of the thoroughness of the featurettes, I just couldn’t wait any longer, and you shouldn’t either.

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