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Beyond ‘300’: Who Got it Right?

Director Tarsem Singh aims
to carve out his own gory slice of guilty-pleasure pie with the god-versus-men
epic Immortals which hits screens
this Friday. The trailers alone recall the 2007 breakout success that was Zach
Snyder’s 300, not to mention the blunt
comparison boasted in trailer voiceovers. Since
Hollywood
was claimed as
Sparta,
Player Affinity will examine some of the imitators that emerged and decide if they are worthy
of comparison or if 300 managed to
slip into a niche that has yet to be rivaled.

The Contenders:

Ninja Assassin
The Warrior’s Way
Watchmen
Sucker Punch
Clash of the Titans
The Eagle
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
Centurion

immortalspic 

Despite seemingly every
other movie boasting to be “from the producers of
300” imitators, copy-cats, rip-offs and the like are not as
frequent as you ‘d think, as I could only scrounge up about ten that fit the bill
closely enough. R-rated action films are an inherently difficult sell (at least
in comparison to the beloved studio rating of PG-13), and populating the cast
with relatively unknown talent as was the case with
300, is a risky endeavour meaning direct imitations are not a
desirable option to finance. So that’s leads us more into the “inspired by”
realm.

Of the films listed above,
they fall neatly into two camps: setting and style. The likes of
Clash of the Titans, The Eagle, Prince of Persia and Centurion are all of the swords and
sandals genre, with a near-godly central hero, mythical creatures and beautiful
people. On the other sandal-clad foot are those movies that utilize the most
popular hallmarks of
300:
slow-motion, washed-out color tones and hyper-stylized violence. Two on the
docket are from
300 director Zach
Snyder, but they cannot be ignored in this analysis. The other two,
Ninja Assassin and The Warrior’s Way, could
very well have been made by the same team.

300pic 

Another, but completely
different camp to consider is the arrival of many burly-men-on-a-mission
flicks such as
The Expendables, The
A-Team, The Losers, Predators
and
10,000 B.C.
which may or may not be linked in any capacity to the success
of
300. Even when studios may not be
willing to toss cash into a risky, gory endeavour, they do pick up on elements
of what makes certain movies work, which in this case is the still-popular
set-up of men being manly (and wasting loads of people in the process).

 

The Verdict: Who got it Right?

Nobody. Not only are there
no films on this list that can hold a candle (or in this case a sword) to the
brash crowd-pleaser that was
300.
Most of them are flat-out bad, not to mention it’s really an apples and oranges
comparison. This weekend’s
Immortals
truly seems to be the closest thing to that 2007 smash in terms of setting,
style and violence, so we will soon see if we can have two films that can
respectively stand above.

So let us expand to
cinema’s close brother television for the quintessential successor to the
300 fortune: Starz network’s Spartacus: Blood and Sand and Spartacus: Gods of the Arena. Gore,
nudity, slow-motion, a period setting very close to that of King Leonidas’
tale, and plenty of snappy dialogue that truthfully has no business existing in
the era. Being one of Starz’s biggest hits, it is clear that the format is
still very popular with audiences and shockingly, sometimes a near-carbon copy
can deliver on the thrills and entertainment value.

spartacuspic 

A crucial point I have yet
to make is one that quite honestly makes this entire retrospective obsolete: did
300 even get it right? Though
financially a big winner, and beloved by more than a few moviegoers, critics
were not as kind, the story is as straightforward as they get and the script is
comprised almost entirely of one-liners – though great ones to be sure. But
when did quality ever have a bearing on what movie studios jump at, and 300 has already anchored itself in pop
culture and continues to be relevant and popular five years later. As much as
much as I yearn for quality fare come Oscar season, switching my mind off has
its place more times than I care to admit. Some time soon, a film will be
dubbed: “The best of its kind since 300” and then we will no doubt have another wave of interest in the format. Until
then, 300 is still great fare for a
Friday night and still retains the monopoly when it comes to
Thermopylae

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