Netflix just dropped the iconic and controversial movie 300 from its streaming catalog. As promised, the movie left Netflix on Thursday, March 31, 2022. Fans can still find it elsewhere, although the movie's critics would advise you to skip it altogether.
Gerard Butler stars as King Leonidas in 300, an adaptation of a graphic novel by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley which was directed by Zack Snyder. The movie is a fictionalization of the Battle of Thermopylae during the Persian Wars, with fantasy elements blended into the narrative for dramatic effect. It was a sensation when it was first released back in 2007, but in hindsight, many historians say the movie spread misconceptions about Sparta, Greece and the Persian Empire.
By the standards of 2007, 300 was remarkably faithful to its comic book source material. Snyder even used a superimposition chroma key filming technique to closely mirror the imagery of the comic page. The story itself is extremely similar as well – it begins by describing the brutal upbringing of Spartan warriors and the honor code that defines their lives.
The movie then depicts a fantastical version of the Persian Wars, describing King Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) as a "God-King" and implying that he and his court may have real mystical abilities. At the same time, the Greek Oracle is implied to have real powers as well. The Oracle denies Leonidas' request to go to war against Persia, so he rides out with a force of 300 as his "personal bodyguards" to defend a narrow pass where he believes they can make a viable stand.
The movie consists mainly of epic battle shots, with Leonidas and his warriors facing off against different kinds of soldiers, war machines and even monsters. At the same time, a B-plot follows the political drama back in Sparta where Leonidas' wife, Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey) struggles to get him more support. Other stars include Dominic West as Theron, Tom Wisdom as Astinos, Andrew Pleavin as Daxos, Andrew Tiernan as Ephialtes, Stephen McHattie as the Loyalist and Michael Fassbender as Stelios.
At the time of its release, 300 was a cultural sensation, though even then reviews of its content were not overwhelmingly positive. Today, criticisms of the movie tend to outweigh fond memories. It has been criticized for historical inaccuracies that are divorced from its fantasy elements which may have misled the public, as well as offensive representations of various groups including Persians, differently-abled people and the Spartans themselves.
Still, there's no denying that 300 has a lasting place in the cultural zeitgeist, and for some, a rewatch may be a cathartic reset. The movie has left Netflix but it is now streaming on Tubi for free with ads. The sequel, 300: Rise of an Empire is streaming now on HBO Max.