By Cheri Lasota

300 is a grand spectacle for the eye and ear. Filmed with breathtaking cinematography, even the colors are painted in such rich monochromatic tones that you think you’ve stumbled into a stylized fantasy painting.

That isn’t far from the truth. 300 is based on the graphic novel by Frank Miller (of Sin City fame) and directed by Dawn of the Dead director Zack Snyder. Such a pairing will incite drooling fits by adolescent boys around the country, because the film relies heavily on decapitations, gore, and blood-smattered screens. This is to be expected, and adored, by fans of the Frank Miller graphic novels.

Gerard Butler (Phantom of the Opera) leads a nearly all-male cast of hard-bodied Spartans in the epic battle of Thermopylae against Persia and their gold-draped drag queen-inspired leader, Xerxes. Despite the fantastical creatures and surreal cinematography this film sticks quite close to history.

Though 300 borrows techniques employed in such classics as The Matrix and Lord of the Rings trilogies, make no mistake, there is innovative filmmaking going on here. The photography is stunning, from the slow motion battle sequences to the extreme close-ups of dirt-encrusted sandaled feet to a girl writhing on dry land as if she was drowning in a pool of water. What sets this film apart is its attention to the tiniest details. Nothing is left to chance, and every frame of the film is a masterwork of color, photography, and cinematography.

300 is a movie about honor and bravery in the face of total annihilation, an ode to war filled with not clichés but rather classic themes we have seen before. I recommend this film to movie geeks and action lovers, but if you’re squeamish or quail at the thought of gladiator types battling it out amid a gory chaos of corpses you might want to pass up this one.