Today we are going to discuss the Battle of Thermopylae, where a group of plucky Spartan soldiers went toe to toe with the vast forces of Persia's King Xerxes.
But don't worry. This won't be some dry slog through ancient history. Instead of consulting the dusty parchments of the past, we will be consulting Frank Miller's graphic novel 300 which, in turn, became the souped-up, pumped-up, gore-filled (in 3-D!) CGI epic "300" (2007).
This movie has it all: a heavy metal soundtrack; boil covered priests; sniveling, corrupt politicians; a rhino decked out in piercings and chains; misshapen freaks; explicit sex; stylized battle scenes that amount to war porn; a cast of drop-dead gorgeous warriors in bikini briefs so tight you can tell what religion the actors are; and a fat, bald royal executioner with a ring in his nose and lobster claws for hands.
Fat, pierced lobster men! That's why we go to the movies!
Well, that's why I go to the movies...
Anyway, the fun begins with a verbose voice-over where we learn that the city-state of Sparta was a cross between a fascist gated community and the gym class from hell. From the time a Spartan baby boy could crawl, we are told, he was "steeped in violence", taught to fight, starved, beaten and forced to wear skimpy Depends in the middle of winter. One such lad, named Leonidas, is even kicked out into a snow storm and forced to do battle with a CGI wolf-type critter. Needless to say, Leonidas wins the day and eventually becomes King of Sparta.
Magically transformed into the ultra hunky Gerard Butler, King Leo is married to the tough but pretty Lena Headey and has his own son. Then one fateful day an emissary from Persian "god king" Xerxes rides into town. He's an uppity fellow who waves around the skulls of dead kings--even his horse has the nerve to head butt a Spartan citizen minding his own business. The emissary brings the news that Xerxes demands Sparta surrender to Persia. Leonidas, who doesn't take to kindly to outsiders telling him what to do, kicks the messenger into a deep well, which happens to be located in the middle of town.
You go, girl?
Addressing the Senate chamber "as a mother" and reminding the sheet-draped assembly that "freedom isn't free", Queen Gorgo makes a rousing speech to get her hubby the troops he needs to save Sparta. Then nasty ol' Theron flounces in and accuses HRH of being a whore, a liar and a two-faced slut whose elaborately braided tresses are probably a wig. Fit to be tied, and every inch the bad ass her husband is, the Spartan queen grabs a sword and guts Theron with the precision of a ninja surgeon. In doing so, she rips open the evil pol's money pouch, which over flows with Persian coins. Imagine! A politician taking a bribe! The outrage! The Senate rallies to the queen's cause and makes plans for war.
Another subplot involves an unfortunate named Ephialtes (Andrew Tieman). Since only the best looking, most ripped, most physically perfect bad asses can wear the Spartan soldier's bikini briefs, outcast, deformed hunchbacks are doomed to the life of a 4-F. Poor Ephialtes is not only stunted and hunchbacked, he's also got bad skin, ugly teeth and no hair. Yet he yearns to fight with the 300. However, when he begs Leonidas for a chance to join the company, the king says no. Instead, Ephialtes is told he can carry off the dead and pass out water. Hurt and rejected, the outcast scurries off to the Persian camp instead.
Detail #2: If the Ephors are a bunch of corrupt, in-bred, horn-dog bozos, why do the Spartans defer to their counsel? Surely Leonidas isn't the only Spartan who knows they are fakes. Why haven't they been exposed for who and what they are?