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'300': NOT JUST A BATTLE FLICK
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 Gerard Butler portrays Leonidas, the king of Sparta who, along with an army of 300 soldiers, battles to prevent the large Persian army from invading Greece in 480 B.C. in the epic action-drama '300.'
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Date published: 3/15/2007

300 (R) HHH

STARRING: GERARD BUTLER, LENA HEADEY, DOMINIC WEST

RUNNING TIME: 117 MIN.

Though this is a battle epic few can match, there's a beauty and a noble nature to this film.

It's the kind that comes from total commitment to a cause: here, the notion of a free and unyielding Sparta.

That's delivered in this film through gleaming biceps, rippling abs, thrown spears and arrow-riddled shields, all wrapped up in more testosterone than has ever before been squeezed into a single film.

While some might dismiss this story of 300 brave Spartans holding off hordes of Persians at Thermopylae in 480 B.C. as just another battle flick, most won't.

With Gerard Butler creating a King Leonidas we sympathize with and pull for, each frame of this movie that echoes the tone of "Braveheart" is beautifully shot and artfully staged.

When the Spartan king we've seen formed in the crucible of a warrior's upbringing goes against a horde so large it fills the horizon, it seems a death wish.

But as the film proceeds and the bravery and tactics of the warriors show them to be almost Herculean, it's hard not to pull for them.

Yes, the film is bloody and filled with men being speared, cut, shot with arrows and more.

But unlike modern-day gorefests awash in blood, these battle sequences almost have an animated, comic-book feel. The action often proceeds in slow motion or on a screen where all colors but black and red seem to fade from sight.

From wheat fields to the narrow pass where Leonidas bids his wife goodbye, the screen is alternately ablaze or doused with dark hues where battle rages.

All in all, it's more than you'd expect from any 300 a filmmaker could muster.

Rated R for graphic battle sequences throughout, some sexuality and nudity. [RF, RA, M]

AMAZING GRACE (PG) HHH

STARRING: IOAN GRUFFUDD, ALBERT FINNEY, MICHAEL GAMBON, RUFUS SEWELL

RUNNING TIME: 111 MIN.

With a compelling performance by Gruffudd as British abolitionist William Wilberforce, a strong supporting cast and a story rooted in one of history's great struggles, this film delivers on every level.


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HOW WE RATE 'EM H Don't waste your time.

HH Nothing special

HHH You'll be sorry if you miss it.

HHHH A must-see