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Thursday, August 02, 2007

Review of 300 Two-Disc Special Edition DVD

300 easily ties along with Transformers as my favorite movie so far of 2007. I've seen it twice now (click here for my thoughts when I first caught it) and it's sort of taking hold with me just as The Matrix did some years ago. So I've been looking forward to the release of 300 on DVD this week. It also came out on both HD-DVD and Blu-ray but since I'm still waiting to see which way the market tilts before investing in a player for either of those formats, I'm still using standard DVD. Besides, we've got a nifty lil' "upscaling" DVD player that does a great job outputting regular DVD to our high-def set, and we're probably going to be more than happy with that for awhile to come. As I've said before, when it comes to new technology I'm very much like the Amish: I have to completely trust it before adopting it.

I've actually watched the 2-disc DVD set once now, but this is such an awesome movie that I've had it playing about twice more while I've been working on some things (George Lucas writes to music, and I often write and do video editing with movies playing in the room behind me :-). As a consequence some of the more memorable lines have been stuck in my head for the past day or so. Lisa can tell you that I'm already doing a terrific impersonation of that Persian emissary dude when he rasps out "A THOUSAND nations of the Persian Empire descend upon you! Our arrows will blot out the sun!"

Okay, 'bout the DVD ...

I like it a lot! The one problem - that may or may not even be a real issue - is that even for standard DVD upscaled for high-def output, the image quality looks pretty grainy. But then, 300 on the theater's screen it's rather grainy anyway: all part of the unique look of this film. But in comparison to most other standard DVDs lately, 300 still appears to have less-than-ideal image quality. A few times I wondered if Warner Bros. is encoding its regular DVDs as well as they could: I thought that the DVD of Superman Returns likewise could have used better encoding of the video. But having seen 300 twice in theaters, I'll still say that for this particular movie, if you're getting it already knowing what to expect, it should still satisfy well. The audio is also very good.

Disc 1 is the movie, in widescreen format (you can also buy this as a single disc or in full-screen, if that's what you prefer). You can watch the movie "bare-bones" or with audio commentary from director Zack Snyder. Disc 2 is the special bonus features, including 3 deleted scenes. Two of those feature the traitorous Ephialtes and the other is of this huge (we're talking bigger than Goliath) Persian warrior with this midget archer riding on his back and shooting arrow at the Spartans. There is also a terrific documentary about the historical background of 300: what we know of the real-life Leonidas and his stand at Thermopylae against Xerxes's Persian army. Other features on Disc 2 include a look at 300's creator: comic book legend Frank Miller. A few more are various takes on 300's revolutionary production, which involved using bluescreen on a massive scale and the lengths that Zack Snyder and his crew went to in order to faithfully adapt the 300 graphic novel for the big screen.

300 is an amazing movie, and one that I think is going to have quite an inspirational impact over the long run. It gets a great treatment on DVD and I'll definitely recommend it for your personal collection.