300 appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. Across the board, the transfer satisfied.
Sharpness always looked good. From start to finish, I thought it appeared crisp and concise, with virtually no instances of softness to distract.
The image lacked jagged edges or shimmering, and edge enhancement appeared to be absent. No source defects occurred, and given the accurate reproduction of the heavily grainy photography, I suspected no use of noise reduction.
Another stylistic choice affected the colors of 300. Essentially, the movie came devoid of most hues, as it often favored either a golden tint or a chilly blue tone.
Occasionally I saw slightly warmer colors like some rich reds, but those were rare. Within the film’s design, the hues looked solid, and the disc’s HDR added oomph to these tones.
Blacks were deep and dense, while shadows seemed clear and smooth. The HDR gave richness and power to these, along with improved contrast and whites. Given the nature of the photography, this became a solid presentation.
Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, 300 boasted an excellent Dolby Atmos soundtrack. Like the movie itself, this offered a constant assault on the senses, and it added serious punch to the piece.
The soundfield used all the speakers to terrific advantage, especially during battles. All the elements of war swarmed around us and created a fine sense of the setting.
Even quieter scenes – which filled about three minutes of this aggressive film – still offered good ambient information. This was a powerful soundfield that placed its pieces well and combined them to work well.
Audio quality also felt positive. Despite a lot of looped lines, speech remained natural and concise, with no edginess or other problems.
Music was dynamic and full, while effects seemed strong. Those elements produced good punch and lacked distortion.
They appeared accurate and tight, and the movie featured excellent low-end response. This ended up as a demonstration worthy soundtrack.
How did the 4K UHD compare to the 2009 Blu-ray release? Audio became richer and more immersive, while visuals seemed tighter and smoother, with improved colors and contrast. I already liked the 2009 BD but the 4K offered a step up in quality.
The 4K UHD includes an audio commentary with director Zack Snyder, writer Kurt Johnstad and director of photography Larry Fong. All three sit together for this piece, though Snyder heavily dominates the proceedings.
95 percent of the chat sticks with three subjects: visual effects, sets – or the lack thereof – and comparisons with the original graphic novel. Occasionally we hear about things like the actors, stunts, and action, but those subjects pop up infrequently.
Instead, we get incessant remarks about the digital sets and other banal issues. Even the notes about the adaptation tend to consist of little more than “this shot’s from the graphic novel”. Lots of dead air appears in this dull, frustrating commentary.
All the remaining extras appear on the included Blu-ray copy. Note that this disc does not replicate the one linked above, as that brought a 2009 “Complete Experience” version, whereas the 4K package delivers the original 2007 Blu-ray.
The 24-minute, 36-second The 300 – Fact or Fiction? mixes movie clips, behind the scenes bits, and interviews. We hear from Snyder, authors/historians Bettany Hughes and Dr. Victor Davis Hanson, writer/executive producer Frank Miller, and actor Gerard Butler.
The show includes some historical notes about the Spartans and comparisons between those facts and the movie’s fiction. We also learn about Miller’s graphic novel and its film adaptation.
All those factors combine well in this pretty enjoyable piece. It manages to give us a nice examination of how 300 fits with history and fleshes out those facts to a satisfying degree. It should help expand fans’ enjoyment of the film since it broadens their understanding of the material at hand.
For more historical information, we find the four-minute, 32-second Who Were the Spartans? The Warriors of 300. It features Snyder, Miller, Butler, Hanson, Hughes, and actors Rodrigo Santoro and David Wenham.
“Warriors” expands on “Fact” as it examines the culture of the Spartans and their society. It’s not as good as “Fact”, but it offers a decent addition to the set.
Preparing for Battle: The Original Test Footage lasts six minutes, 43 seconds and includes notes from Zack Snyder, Miller, Nunnari, Canton, and Deborah Snyder.
We see a reel adapted from the original graphic novel to demonstrate what Zack Snyder wanted to do with the project as well as some other elements used to pitch the project. It’s a cool glimpse of the filmmakers’ intentions.
Next we discover The Frank Miller Tapes. This 14-minute, 42-second piece offers remarks from Snyder, Miller, DC Comic president/publisher Paul Levitz, comic book creator Neal Adams, and DC Comics group editor Bob Schreck.
“Tapes” looks at Miller’s start in comics, his development, his influences, and his work on 300. This becomes an enjoyable view of Miller, though it disappoints due to its essential focus on 300. While we get some insights into Miller’s processes and goals, I’d have liked something that took a broader look at his career to better put 300 in context. Nonetheless, “Tapes” works pretty well for what it is.
Making of 300 goes for five minutes, 51 seconds and presents remarks from Snyder, Miller, Butler, Johnstad, visual effects supervisor Chris Watts, Spartan trainer Mark Twight and actor Lena Headey,
This promotional piece mostly tells us the movie’s story along with some quick notes about its visual style and the actors’ physical training. It offers exceedingly little substance; you won’t miss anything if you skip it.
A different view of the film’s creation comes from the three-minute, 40-second Making 300 In Images. This provides a visual montage of photos and video footage from the 300 set accompanied by music.
We see the various elements but they come devoid of context and fly by at a ridiculous rate. Some potentially intriguing bits appear here but they’re robbed of substance and add little to our understanding of the film and its creation.
Three Deleted Scenes fill a total of three minutes, 23 seconds. That running time includes non-optional introductions with Snyder.
he first two show a little more of Ephialtes, while the third offers some more action with tiny archers. They’re all pretty silly. In his intros, Snyder explains why he cut them.
Next we find 12 Webisodes. All together, they go for a total of 38 minutes, 23 seconds.
These present remarks from Snyder, Headey, Butler, Santoro, Miller, Johnstad, Twight, Wenham, Watts, production designer Jim Bissell, costume designer Michael Wilkinson, stunt coordinator/fight choreographer Damon Caro, assistant stunt coordinator/assistant fight choreographer Chad Stahelski, creature shop supervisor Mark Rappaport, special effects makeup supervisor Shaun Smith, and actors Vincent Regan and Dominic West.
Quick promotional bits, these look at production design, wardrobe, stunts, the graphic novel’s adaptation, the actors, their characters and their training, visual effects, and some aspects of Spartan culture.
Even though the “Webisodes” clearly exist for publicity purposes, they still often manage to provide good information. The first three “Webisodes” deal with production design, wardrobe and stunts, and those prove especially valuable.
I also like the ones that check out visual effects, training, makeup and characters. Most of the others tend to be somewhat fluffy, but all remain enjoyable.
Note that this release loses a lot of bonus content from the 2009 Blu-ray. It included a good interactive experience plus a bluescreen picture-in-picture mode and 40 “Focus Points”. It’s a shame this 4K UHD doesn’t give fans that disc, as these are good features that we could use.
Possibly 2007’s biggest cinematic disappointment, 300 takes an interesting premise and turns the material into laughable schlock. This becomes a terrible piece of overacted, overwrought and over-dramatic action trash. The 4K UHD boasts excellent picture and audio along with a generally good set of supplements. Expect a high-quality reproduction of a terrible movie.
To rate this film, visit the Special Edition review of 300