The very concept of 300 was exciting: a heavily-stylized and violent period action based on the visual look and story of Frank Miller's graphic novel. Maybe a little too exciting, as this movie became one of the most over-hyped films in recent memory.
At least the movie lived up to most of that hype. Going into the film expecting the best movie ever made will undoubtedly disappoint, but the movie was probably one of the most excellent visual experiences that you can see on screen. (And, with the movie in IMAX, that option is worth looking into if you've got one of those big-screen theaters nearby.)
The story is even more straightforward than I would have imagined. The violent battles and stylized scenes of the Spartan homestead never quite escape your expectations of what might come next and there's no real surprises to the film. Every event follows entirely as you would imagine, but the process of watching it play out is the real joy.
The film is like any other performance art... It would be like seeing a band live and complaining that they play the music just like you'd heard on CD. The enjoyment of watching the film is seeing how something you understand plays out before you beautifully.
Not that the movie couldn't be better, but there's only so long you can drag out the inevitable and keep piling on the severed limbs and blood. Though there's nothing wrong with the piles of bodies, it just begins to wear you down after a point, continuing the same pace of violent dispatch until it no longer carries much weight.
At least the battles are few so that it doesn't totally blow its load early in the movie, but I felt that the film wasn't the boiling cauldron of bloody discharge that I had hoped. It's a well-crafted, exceptionally good-looking movie, but it somehow feels slightly hollow when it's all over.
Though, given that, it's still one of the best movies of the year and deserving of all the accolades it receives, despite the "freedom" talk that the Spartans beat you over the head with for most of the movie and how historically inaccurate it all is. You can't help but feel like the movie is trying to make some pseudo-jingoistic point about "freedom ain't free", but if you can ignore the undertones, the movie is exceptional.