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Ghost Canyon

'300' (4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital)
(Gerard Butler, Lena Headey, Dominic West, David Wenham, Vincent Regan, et al / 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital / R / (2006) 2020 / Warner Bros.)

Overview: The epic graphic novel by Frank Miller (Sin City) assaults the screen with the blood, thunder and awe of its ferocious visual style faithfully recreated in an intense blend of live-action and CGI animation.

Retelling the ancient Battle of Thermopylae, it depicts the titanic clash in which King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) and 300 Spartans fought to the death against Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) and his massive Persian army.

Experience history at sword point and moviemaking with a cutting edge.

Blu-ray Verdict: Warner Brothers Home Entertainment is expanding their 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray catalog offerings this month with the release of the simply brilliant '300’ in the expansive 4K Ultra HD video format this October 6th, 2020.

For my money, this '300: 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital' combo pack's sharpness takes a fairly large step forward from others in their 4K Ultra HD catalog and even comes with HDR (High Dynamic Range) for the complete 4K Ultra HD experience, of course.

So, what we have is '300' presented to us as a two-disc combo pack with a sheet for a Digital HD Copy. Other stand out points you should know are: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: Upscaled 4K (2160p), HDR: HDR10, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1 and Original aspect ratio: 2.39:1.

Featuring Dolby Vision and HDR10 for brighter, deeper, and way more lifelike colors, as with most all 4K UHD's, everything that we watch features these qualities - but somehow, this film gloriously shines within them all.

Noticeably crisper with the overall clarity receiving an obvious boost here on this release, what's more is that it's enjoyably noticeable.

For as well as some new nuances to the somewhat drab palette courtesy of Dolby Vision we also get to witness sudden bright pops of color; such as the BEST scene in the movie, for my money, when Leonidas and Xerxes are talking at cliff's edge, "The 300 at his back...ready to die for him without a moment's pause...every one of them...ready to die...his helmet is stifling...his shield is heavy...your there...Ephialtes...may you live forever....Leonidas, your spear...Stelios!...slaughter them!...his helmet was narrowed his vision, and he must see far...his shield was threw him off balance...and his target is far away...the old ones say we Spartans are descended from Hercules himself...bold Leonidas gives testament to our bloodline...his roar is long and loud."

Indeed, the picture enjoys the fruits of the added resolution in terms of bringing out the aforementioned extremely fine facial and some of the yellow graded material (notably the very first battle scene, where Leonidas, the king of Sparta, motivates his warriors to defend the Hot Gates), which is now interestingly different, and more "alive" with this incredible 1080p Blu-ray rendering.

As for the audio, well we have: English: Dolby Atmos, English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), French: Dolby Digital 5.1, and Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1.

Overall, this is a very strong 4K HDR Blu-ray presentation, and, for the most part, the audio track remains fairly similar to its DTS-HD counterpart; with much of the action occupying the surrounds with outstanding directionality and placement where effects flawlessly pan between the sides and rears.

Phew! OK, so, as for the movie itself, well, for me, the 480 BC Battle of Thermopylae is the stuff of military legend when, in popular lore, a mere 300 Spartans commanded by King Leonidas held off a Persian force led by Xerxes the Great that Herodotus claimed as 2.6 million.

In truth, the Spartans were backed by a mixed force of almost 7,000, while there are enormous variations in modern estimates of the multi-ethnic Persian army, but somewhere between 100,000-200,000 seems realistic. Whatever the actual figures, the odds against the Spartans were terrible, death was inevitable, and their honor secure.

The story was first told on film in 1962 when director Rudolph Mat้ went to Greece and shot a worthy, but conventional and surprisingly leaden, version entitled 'The 300 Spartans', starring American Richard Egan as King Leonidas and the British David Farrar as Xerxes.

'300' takes the same basic narrative and presents it in an utterly different style in a blood-fest when 'The Wild Bunch' meets 'Kill Bill' and the visuals are like nothing else, except save for perhaps 'Sin City'.

This time the director is Zack Snyder, known for his music videos, and the location is a studio set in Montreal with green backgrounds later filled by superb computer-generated graphics and the whole storybook style is based on the graphic novel by co-producer Frank Miller.

Both versions use the legendary exchange: "When we attack today, our arrows will blot out the sun!" "Good; then we will fight in the shade." But only '300' has such fun, throwaway lines as: "Spartans! Enjoy your breakfast, for tonight we dine in Hell!"

Ever since its first public showing at the Berlin Film Festival, most critics have mauled '300' and it presents an easy target for those wanting something more cerebral: there is virtually no plot or characterization, the script is sparse and bland, much of the acting is exaggerated and over-loud, when it is not homo-erotic it is oddly camp, and the whole thing is stereotypical when it is not outright xenophobic and politically incorrect.

And yet, as entertainment, it has much to offer: the sepia-tinged visuals are absolutely stunning and the fight sequences viscerally exciting. I was fortunate enough to see it in IMAX back in the day and I regularly felt blood-splattered and exhausted and quite ready to leap into the action.

Back in the day (2006), there are no big names in the cast list which actually helped the sense of history, but did not raise the thespian talent quotient, of course.

Gerard Butler (now the big star we know and love) plays King Leonidas with a Scottish accent, while the Brazilian Rodrigo Santoro is a version of Xerxes bedazzled with ethnic metalwork.

Most of the warriors are literally larger than life: the actors playing the Spartans reveal most of their bodies with digitally-enhanced muscles, while on Xerxes' side characters include a huge hunchback, a giant emissary and a claw-armed executioner as well the metal-masked Immortals.

This is before we get on to an enormous raging rhino and bedecked elephants. Truly this is a battle with a circus-like cast. The love interest comes from the feisty wife of Leonidas, Queen Gorgo, portrayed by the alluring British actress Lena Headey. There is even a scene in a rippling corn field borrowed from 'Gladiator.

At the end of the day, what makes the movie are the thrilling fight sequences with encounters in which the film is slowed down and then speeded up to give a video-game quality that is unlike anything you have previously seen on the big (or now in this case, small) screen.

When a sword slashes, or a spear lunges, or an arrow whistles, you really feel and hear it. At times, it is as if a picture by Hieronymus Bosch had come to life!

Ultra HD showcases 4K resolution with High Dynamic Range (HDR) and a wider color spectrum, offering consumers brighter, deeper, more lifelike colors for a home entertainment viewing experience like never before.

'300' will be available on Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack for $24.99 (expected retail price) and features an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc with the feature film in 4K with HDR and a Blu-ray disc of '300'.

Fans can also own '300' in 4K Ultra HD via purchase from select digital retailers beginning on October 6th, 2020. The Blu-ray disc of 300 will include more than 3 hours of previously released special features, including commentary from Zack Snyder.

The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc of '300' will also feature a Dolby Atmosฎ soundtrack remixed specifically for the home theater environment to place and move audio anywhere in the room, including overhead.

To experience Dolby Atmos at home, a Dolby Atmos enabled AV receiver and additional speakers are required, or a Dolby Atmos enabled sound bar.

Dolby Atmos soundtracks are also fully backward compatible with traditional audio configurations and legacy home entertainment equipment.

This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.39:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs via 1080p and comes with the Special Features of:

• Commentary with director/co-writer Zack Snyder, co-writer Kurt Johnstad and director of photography Larry Fong
• The 300: Fact or Fiction
• Who Were the Partans? The Warriors of '300'
• Preparing for Battle: The Original Test Footage
• The Frank Miller Tapes
• Making of '300'
• Making '300' in Images
• Webisode: Production Design
• Webisode: Wardrobe
• Webisode: Stunt Work
• Webisode: Lena Headey
• Webisode: Adapting the Graphic Novel
• Webisode: Gerard Butler
• Webisode: Rodrigo Santoro
• Webisode: Training the Actors
• Webisode: Culture of the Sparta City/State
• Webisode: A Glimpse from the Set: Making '300'
• Webisode: Scene Studies from '300'
• Webisode: Fantastic Characters of '300'
• Deleted Scenes with introduction by Zack Snyder

Official Trailer

'300: 4K Ultra HD' Blu-ray Amazon Purchase Link