The 300 Spartans (1962) – [rate 2.5]
It’s always hard to judge an movie in the action genre when it’s well over 4 decades old. On the one hand, you want to compare it to contemporary pieces, but on the other hand what really matters is whether you would recommend to anyone now. This becomes even harder when the movie has since been remade with up to date technology, with modern action iconography and choreography to look back on.
“The 300 Spartans” is a good example, since it is the original (by way of the excellent ‘300’ comic by Frank Miller) for ‘300’ (2006) by Zack Snyder. You can either love or hate the hyperbolic approach of the story by Miller and Snyder, but essentially it is the same story as told in “The 300 Spartans”. It benefits greatly from all the modern technology and current cinematic knowhow. “The 300 Spartans” is more clearly about abuse of power and the great good of freedom, but tends to come across somewhat sappy as a result.
This movie is a good watch if you’re interested to see what happens if ‘300’ would have been shot as more of a ‘serious’ movie about the battle at Thermopylae. It’s certainly not a bad movie: fair acting, great shots of massive battles and a decent story. But it doesn’t stand out and ultimately, movies like this suffer more from age than anything focused more on storytelling and less on visual drama or action.
If you’re going to pick up something from the 60’s, get something like ‘Repulsion‘ (1965), ‘Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb‘ (1964), ‘2001: A Space Odyssey‘ (1968) or ‘The Graduate‘ (1967). Better yet, give ‘The Manchurian Candidate‘ (1962) or ‘Psycho‘ (1960) a go for some proof that newer isn’t always better.
In light of all those excellent movies, you want to save ‘The 300 Spartans’ for a rainy day if you’re a real ‘300’ fan and you want that love to grow just a little stronger.