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DVD Review: ‘300: The Complete Experience’ (Blu-ray)
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300: The Complete Experience Blu-ray DVD300: The Complete Experience
Blu-ray Edition
Directed by Zack Snyder
Starring Gerard Butler, Lena Headey, David Wenham, Dominic West
Warner Bros Home Video
Release Date: July 21, 2009

If people loved the way Sin City (another Frank Miler comic book) was made with such flavor that popped off of the screen, I am sure that people will get on their knees and bow for Zack Snyder‘s new kind of filmmaking, a movie simply called 300. It is a bloody, sexual, and extremely violent movie that uses computers unlike any other movie that we’ve seen in past years. Even though I am kind of biased to computer generated movies (Lord of the Rings) this particular one made me sit back and enjoy the visuals that surpasses the greatest PS3 game. I like the natural filmmaking (no blue screen or green screen), not the kind that your next door neighbor can do on his laptop computer while just passing the time. This being something that I’ve never seen before, I let it work its magic and try not to let that ruin the movie, which it didn’t.

This movie is about the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC which takes place in a narrow path between mountains on the coast of Greece, which translates to “Hot Gates.” A ripped and honorable King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) has a problem as his 300 army of Spartans are out numbered 100 to 1 as they go to war with the Persian army that includes giants, elephants, rhinoceros, ninjas, and creatures. They are lead by a gay commander (who is a tall man as he towers over everyone) Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) who wants everyone to answer to him.

We are told the story in the beginning of the movie about Leonidas and how he became a powerful and well respected king. He was trained at a very young age and fought amongst the men of Sparta and thrown into the wild left to die. Surviving the wild as he slays a red eyed wolf, he returns to Sparta greeted by the men and women there on their knees. They either return home warriors or not return at all. Training at a young age proves to be smart and the Spartans continue to do that with their own children and children of others so that there will always by a King Leonidas as the ruler of Sparta.

Back home in Sparta most of the people don’t support the King’s decision of war and are hesitant of sending more men into the battle knowing that they are going to lose. Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey) does anything to help get the council to voter her way for more troops even if she sleeps with another man Theron who is part of the council.

This movie garnished so much hype that going in I expected more than what I left with. Sometimes a movie can market very well by showing all the great scenes of the movie during the previews and when you see the movie you want more of those scenes. Without question Snyder gives us a treat, just like the groundbreaking Citizen Kane did to audiences in 1941, as he displays dazzling color, beautiful slow motion sequences, and of course for most of the movie, the gory, and at times a little silly, battle scenes. This is something that we dream about; containing and bottling up unforgettable images and color. This is a movie that you have to see on the big screen the Blu-Ray doesn’t do it justice. As for the history of the movie goes, turn on the History Channel because what we get here is a movie that is so beautiful we don’t really care if it’s accurate or not.

At times my mind seems to be telling me that I’ve seen this material before such as when the Queen is in the fields and the wind is blowing as the slow motion kicks in, is like a scene in the 2000 Best Picture winner Gladiator and some parts reminded me of Troy especially the ending while they are talking about Leonidas. The dialogue at times, to me, was like treading through mud as I couldn’t just grasp what they were trying to say at times. But don’t let that ruin a film about honor and betrayal because this could be the next generation of movie making.

Blu-Ray Picture: This being the third time around on high-definition disc, 300: The Complete Experience is easily the most vivid and compelling of the three (first being on HD-DVD and the other on Blu-Ray in a half-fast format). It’s a visual wonder and undoubtedly a disc that demands you to show off your home entertainment system. Snyder along with his special effects team eliminates all doubts that viewers might have of watching a CGI infested film. The high-definition transfer makes the non-essentials virtually essential. The smallest detail is laced with wonderful hues that don’t contrast but compact to make a dynamite picture that captures the essence of battle. The grandeur of landscapes is in-your-face. The transfer almost evokes a realm of realism. That is how startling and intense the imagery is with this Blu-Ray. Even though the film is ultimately contrasted, a bit granulated, dimmed down, and saturated to such a point of darkness, there still seems to be a piercing quality in each frame that begs to be unleashed and exposed. This transfer, unlike the previous two, exempl ifies that in complete confidence. The colors are meant to be a full-blown representation of the graphic novel itself, as Snyder indicates in the supplements. The main goal when watching 300 is to gain thrills, with this transfer on Blu-Ray that is precisely what we get.

Blu-Ray Exclusive Content:

The Complete 300: A Comprehensive Immersion- This is a scary feature. Not only is the set-up overwhelming but with an abundance of information that is found on this feature the limitations of Blu-Ray are astronomically unlimited. Smaller picture-in-picture screens charting the history=2 0of Sparta, interviews with the 300 team and how a scene was manufactured in front of the green screen pop up while viewing the movie in this particular feature. This is that feature that fans lusted for. It will allow you to experience the entire 300 history like never before, in the realm of your own home. A Comprehensive Immersion is a multipath interactive experience full of rich enhanced content, never-before-seen footage and information directly from the filmmakers’ personal achieves. It lets you select one of three “paths” through the film based on your interest: Creating a Legend reveals the process by which Frank Miller turned an ancient historic battle into a vibrant, visionary graphic novel, and the time director Zack Snyder took in adapting Miller’s vision for the big screen. Bringing the Legend to Life details the filmmaking techniques, both classic and cutting-edge, employed to bring Miller’s intense imagery and ideas to cinematic life. The History Behind the Myth compares the historical facts behind the Battle of Thermopylae and everyday Spartan life.

These three features give you three unique ways to view the movie. The technology behind it is the most advanced ever found in a Blu-Ray disc, individuals should find its navigation and operation to be simple and capable.

Warner Brothers 40-page hard back book- Warner Brothers are known for their extensive line of Blu-Ray booklets, which are now being replicated by other studios. The film is bound in a 40 page booklet containing glossy photos of the film and its actors/directors. Even enlightening readers about the myths of Sparta and the clothing designs seen in the film. For an easy perspective on the “300” history one can easily read the booklet and be just as entranced.

Special Features:

The “300” fact or fiction- HD 24mins: Historians, authors and filmmakers reveal how much of the movie is based on actual fact.

Who Were the Spartans?: The Warriors of “300”- HD 5mins: The customs and ways of life of the Spartans used by the actors and filmmakers to build the characters.

Preparing for Battle: The Original Test Footage- HD 6mins: See how Frank Miller’s images were used in a fight scene test and ultimately convinced the studio to green-light the film.

Frank Miller Tapes- HD 15mins: How Miller continued to push the limits to realize his epic graphic novel “300” in the world of theatrical film.

Making of “300”- HD 6mins: A look how the movie was made.

Making of “300” in Images- HD 4mins: Rapid fire stills from the first day of production to the last are compiled and shown.

Commentary: Listen to Snyder as he compares the bluescreen composite to the actual feature. He is also seen demonstrating such acts in a picture-in-picture mode that is located on the bottom left while viewing the film.

Webisodes: A 40 minute feature in standard definition that takes viewers to a behind-the-scenes peek at the set of “300,” production design, wardrobe, stunt work, training the actors, scene studies from “300” and fantastical characters of “300.”

Deleted Scenes- HD 4mins: Three scenes are introduced by Snyder before they are actually shown to us. He translates why he didn’t use these particular scenes in the finished film.

Movie: *** out of ****
Picture Quality: ***½ out of ****
Special Features: ***½ out of ****

Verdict: Recommended

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