With the massive army of the Persian empire sweeping across the land, crushing all who oppose it, Spartan King Leonidas (Butler) assembles a defense rather than bow to the foreign Persian King Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro). When his fearless lot of 300 Spartan soldiers fall to the hostile forces of King Xerxes, it prompts a reaction from the Greeks that will shape the concept of modern democracy. Based on the graphic novel by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley. (Stacey Pendry)
Special features include commentary by Director Zack Snyder, Writer Kurt Johnstad, and Director Of Photography Larry Fong; five featurettes: The 300—Fact Or Fiction? (25 minutes), Who Were The Spartans/: The Warriors Of 300 (four minutes), Frank Miller Tapes (15 minutes), Making Of 300 (six minutes), and Making 300 In Images (four minutes); three deleted scenes with director introductions; and 12 Webisodes. Plus those up-front previews/ads. The HD DVD also adds a Spartan war game, Vengence And Valor, the Bluescreen Picture-in-picture option, and Mobile Downloads (wallpaper and ringtones to download for your cell phone) that are not included on either of the other formats.
The highly stylized, anamorphically enhanced 2.35:1 DVD looks very similar to what I remember from its theatrical presentation, with a grainy, gritty look and a muted color palette. When looking at the picture, it is not in any way inspiring, which makes judging it difficult, since it was exactly the look the filmmakers were after. Still, I remembered much better detail. Minor source element artifacts appear from time to time. The Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD both have the same VC-1-encoded picture that improves upon the DVD with better delineated shadows and more natural-looking grain. The imagery is still highly stylized, but it does look more detailed and has a better depth of field. Minor digital stair-stepping of edges can be noticed at times. The two high-definition formats look identical. (Danny Richelieu)
The Dolby® Digital 5.1-channel soundtrack is fantastic, with very good fidelity, impressive dynamic range, and a very lively mix. Phantom imaging is attained around the room, with effects placed everywhere around the stage. It is a very in-your-face mix, with little depth to the soundfield. The LFE channel delivers deep, tight bass, as do the full-range channels, infusing the room with an impressive low-end foundation. Dialogue occasionally sounds thin and harsh, which is a big disappointment at times. The HD DVD includes Dolby Digital Plus and lossless Dolby TrueHD encodings, with an impressive mix and good dynamic range. The Blu-ray Disc's Dolby Digital encoding sounds slightly better than the DVD but not quite as natural as the HD DVD's Plus encoding. The Blu-ray Disc also includes a Dolby TrueHD encoding that is a marked improvement over the Dolby Digital offering and sounds identical to the HD DVD's. (Danny Richelieu)