Directed by Zack Snyder

Written by Zack Snyder, Kurt Johnstad and Michael B. Gordon, based on the graphic novel by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley

Starring Gerard Butler, Lena Headey



Help me here; I'm trying to decide which is more stupid - the screenplay of "300" or the film itself. I'm always tempted to blame the screenplay when I see a film with lines like the one Queen Gorgo of Sparta tells her husband, King Leonidas, as he prepares for battle at Thermopylae: "Come back with your shield or on it." For one thing, the line as written doesn't sit well on the tongue: It should be, "Come back with your shield," - long pause for effect - "Or on it." And King Xerxes of Persia, who keeps telling people to kneel before him, reminds me of the football song of my wife's alma mater: "Bow down, bow down to Washington!" Maybe bow wow would have worked better.

Working, if that's not too strong a word, from the comic book by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley - all right, the graphic novel, excuse me - this is a film with only superhuman heroes - the Spartans - and the evil masses of the Persians. And before we get too far, let me point out that the Spartans are white and the Persians are, well, brown and black. Not historically accurate, but then the audience for this film won't mind. Or that Xerxes himself is a flaming queen who couldn't command even a yes-man like, say, Scooter Libby. Goodness gracious, as Donald Rumsfeld used to say.

At any rate, there is a kind of story here, which goes that Good King Leonidas wants to save Sparta from the Persians, but the Oracle tells him not to. Undaunted, and without support from the Council which could give him thousands of troops, he takes three hundred men who are prepared to come back with their shields or on them, and heads for Thermopylae to fight the million-man army of Xerxes. Meanwhile, Queen Gorgo is tricked into letting herself be shtupped by Councilman Theron, who says if she'll sleep with him he'll get the Council to back her husband. What a lie! I guess men will say anything, even in Sparta, to get laid.

But the main thrust of the film, if that's not too strong a word, is the battle itself, in which Xerxes throws thousands of soldiers, millions of arrows ("We shall blot out the sun with our arrows." "Then we shall fight in the shade."), a rhinocerous, some elephants, and for all I know an army of mice. In any case, as we come to the two-hour mark, with Leonidas down to a precious few men, the battle ends with all dead but the man he sent back to tell the tale. The end. I know it's early in the year, but "300" is at the head of my list for the worst film of 2007.