Modern Heat author Heidi Rice watches the brutal, blood-thirsty and shockingly graphic battle drama set in Ancient Greece and discovers an epic tale of love and death and heroic self-sacrifice (and some very nice abs) underneath all the bloodshed.
Okay, so 300 is hardly our average Must-Watch Friday movie on The Pink Heart Society. It's not pink, it's certainly not fluffy and there isn't a whole lot of love in it... In fact I'll make no bones about it, this is a very violent movie. There's enough blood, guts and severed limbs here to stock several abattoirs, so you do need to have a pretty strong stomach to watch it. That said, I'm not a person who enjoys watching violence on film, but I have to admit I was glued to this movie. Shocked, yes. Occassionally sickened, but also rapt throughout. And not just because of the huge number of gorgeous buff male bodies on display (although they certainly didn't hurt).
So why was I so enamoured by this epic battle drama? Maybe because it tells such a simple story — the defense of Greece by 300 battle-hardened Spartans against an invading force of hundreds of thousands of Persians — with such macho intensity (nearly the whole film is taken up with the relentless to-the-death combat at Thermopylae). Maybe because it deals with raw human emotion - bravery, loyalty, fear, grief anger and even love — in its most basic form. Maybe because it is filmed using sepia-toned CGI-enhanced imagery which is both breathtaking explicit and yet at the same time lyrically mythic (director Zack Snyder made the equally stylised The Watchmen straight afterwards). Or probably all of the above.
And then there's the performances which are at once gloriously over-the-top as the Greek Tragedy demands, and yet have key moments of subtlety. One of the few romantic scenes, when Gerard Butler's King Leonidas makes love to his queen (brilliantly played by Lena Headey) on the eve of the battle he knows he must fight but cannot possibly win, is both beautifully sensual and yet at the same time believably earthy and erotic.
When all's said and done, this is definitely a guy movie... There's even a distinct element of homo-eroticism about the Spartans as they charge into battle with their phenomenal six-packs, heavily muscled physiques and very small leather pants!! But personally I found the unashamed machismo of the movie remarkably addictive... And then there were all those buff mostly-naked male bodies to enjoy (or have I mentioned that already??)
So, my final verdict on 300... Not one to watch between meals without loosing your appetite. And about as PC as Atilla the Hun (the depiction of people with disabilities and the 'muslim hordes' was offensively grotesque). But still a remarkably captivating and exhilarating epic which brings Ancient History to life... with a capital T for testosterone!
Heidi Rice is currently working on her ninth Modern Heat novel - when she's not admiring Gerard Butler's naked torso. Her eighth book, Surf Sea and a Sexy Stranger, is due out this December, while her current Modern Heat release, Unfinished Business with the Duke, is still out in shops in the UK and is due out as a Harlequin Presents Extra in the US come October.
Come have a natter on her blog, her Facebook page, or her website.