Phwooooaaarr, look at that!

Wow! “300“. The most brilliant thing to come out of Hollywood since Sin City. Forget the license taken with history (the giant elephants were a bit of a giveaway); the film’s a work of art, every frame deserving of a frame of its own, something gilted gold or richly red as the Spartans’ capes.

I just wish I’d waited for it to arrive in IMAX. (It’s the first film I’ve seen at my local multiplex in full digital – the cinema’s actually the first in Europe to be fully without film, but most releases still get sealed in a can before transfer to digital.) But on a Sunday afternoon, in the front row, the effect’s still excellent, even if it uses more gay iconography than ‘Top Gun’.

(News to you? The reason Tom Cruise’s outing gave the 80s a whole new look was all in the way the fighter-jock epic used camp. Watch ‘Top Gun’ again wearing homospectacles. There’s something gay in every shot.)

The dialogue’s not up to much – but for the right reasons. Just as bad Shakespeare sounds like a mass of tired quotations, the battle of Thermopylae (Hot Gates, geddit?) gave rise to many real phrases that have lost power through overuse. “We shall fight in the shade” when arrows will “blot out the sun”, “Come and get them” as a retort when the Spartans are asked for their weapons…. there’s a fair chance they were actually spoken in 480BC, although Herodotus probably polished them up when he wrote it up.

Thermopylae is a story; 300 is cinema. And it’s the best couple of hours I’ve spent in a darkened room for a long time.

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