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Prove your Phalanx skills in ‘March to Glory’ March 13, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Games & Gadgets, Movies Life.
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First, you have to accept that the odds are insurmountable.

Then, you have to thrive on lopping off heads, dismembering the enemy and dealing out death by the ton, all just to save your honor. Otherwise, don’t even bother picking up “300: March to Glory.”

The new hack-’n’-slash movie spin-off, available now for the PlayStation Portable, follows the quest of King Leonidas and his 300 brave Spartan soldiers as they march to certain doom against the massive Persian army of Xerxes. The whole thing culminates with the battle of Thermopylae, a narrow mountain pass that decreased the Persians’ numerical advantage, if only slightly.

Despite the odds, Leonidas and company closed with and destroyed many a Persian invader. You don’t have to be a student of history to know how it ends.

As a game, “300” won’t win any awards for originality. Following the basic design of other slasher games, players wander through each level, killing anything that comes near. Mostly, you play as King Leonidas, when you aren’t controlling a phalanx of Spartans marching in formation, with shield and spears at the ready, preparing to take on an angry mob or rampaging war elephant.

The game evokes memories of another famous video game Spartan, Kratos from “God of War.” Every bit as bloody and vicious as the PlayStation 2 hit, “300” borrows from that game in other areas, such as allowing characters to collect new combos to deal out deadlier blows. There are also puzzles and mini-bosses, although both pale in comparison to those found in “God of War.”

But considering the limitations of the tiny PSP versus those of a full-blown console, “300” takes a little and gives a lot. That you are entirely able to forget it is a handheld game speaks volumes.

If there is a flaw to be found, it’s that Leonidas is rarely able to interact with his environment. He doesn’t jump, and he can’t smash the crates and barrels scattered around the battle space. There are no power-ups or magic elixirs, save for a precious few glowing Greek letters that refill Leonidas’ health and wrath meters.

Wrath is also earned by killing enemies, and a full wrath bar allows the Spartan to unleash one of four battle skills, such as the berserker rage of Blood Drunk or the health-replenishing Fortitude.

Other small touches add detail and flourish not usually found on a PSP game. Occasionally, the Persian army will unleash a volley of arrows that darkens the sky, a signal for Leonidas to duck under the cover of his shield while the unlucky enemies around him die at the hands of their own men. There is also occasion to perform stealth attacks, in which Leonidas creeps up behind an unsuspecting sentry and decapitates him in dramatic fashion.

The graphics in “300” borrow from the Frank Miller graphic novel that inspired the film, and watching the game’s dramatic cut scenes is nothing short of seeing those pages spring to life. In gaming mode, heads roll, arms fly, and blood squirts far and wide, earning “300” a much deserved Mature rating.

As far as PSP games go, “300” is a solid play, easily worth $30. We’ve had much less fun with plenty of hi-def, next-generation games that cost twice as much. And in the end, knowing that you can’t ultimately beat the long odds isn’t really a big distraction. Sometimes it’s not where you go but how you get there.


On a second thought, take two more! March 13, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life.
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Among those eagerly awaiting the movie’s arrival are history buffs who have had to make do with “The 300 Spartans,” a much stodgier re-enactment from 1962. But just as Miller was haunted by the thought of these doomed heroes who don’t get out alive when he saw the film at age 6, so, too, was John Trikeriotis, 47, who runs 300SpartanWarriors.com and TheLeonidasExpeditions.com.

“Frank Miller blew the dust off of a story that has been around 2,500 years,” says Trikeriotis, who plans to take a scholarly trip to Thermopylae in 2008. Although purists might nitpick the factual liberties taken by “300,” the core appeal of the tale remains.

“It is the self-sacrifice. That is really it in a nutshell,” he says. “If the film gets people to say, ‘I want to read more about this,’ that is a good thing.”

As for anyone who thinks “300” is guys-only fare, consider those half-naked Spartans. At test screenings, the film tested 100 percent positive for women of all ages.

Says Snyder: “The studio was like, ‘What the hell? We don’t even get this at our romantic comedies.’”

You want more doses of Sparta? Take six! March 13, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life.
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It’s hard to not geek out on the Spartans!

Hard as iron, dedicated to the art of war, their very name has become synonymous with discipline, determination and frugality. If the battle of Thermopylae teaches nothing else, it offers an important lesson in selfless dedication to the protection of others. So feel free to keep the Spartan love train rolling. May we recommend >

Open the “Gates.” If you didn’t get enough of the battle of Thermopylae watching “300” consider wrapping your brain around “Gates of Fire” the gripping novel by Steven Pressfield. The sweeping epic takes readers behind the scenes of one of the greatest battles of all times without feeling like a high school history lesson. “Against the massed wall of Spartan armor, they might as well have been defending themselves with reeds.” We dare you to try putting it down.

Art imitates life. Couldn’t make it to the movie? Check out the graphic novel that inspired it all. “300” by “Sin City” creator Frank Miller makes all the bloodshed and violence of Thermopylae somehow seem beautiful. A must-own for any Spartan fan.

The other movie. You didn’t know “300” was a remake? In 1962, it was known as “The 300 Spartans” starring Richard Egan and Diane Baker, why yes, we are going old-school here. The original film has been credited as part of the inspiration behind Miller’s graphic novel and the new film. Available for rent from Netflix.

Get your move on. Hey, if you long to be a Spartan, you can always become one. Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Wisconsin all count a “Sparta” among their cities or townships.

Catch the madness. Give the Spartans some support as they take to the hardwood battlefield known as “March Madness.” Predictions from some of the top sporting news organizations, including ESPN and Sports Illustrated, put the Michigan State University men’s basketball team into the mix for the Big Dance.

The other game. Don’t own a PlayStation Portable? You can always try playing “300” on your cell phone. “300: The Mobile Game,” a real-time-strategy game, puts players in command of Spartan warriors on the battlefield, stomping over the dead bodies in what is billed as the first “mass mobile combat” game. Check out a preview trailer, ring tones, wallpapers and more here.

Related Links > http://300themovie.warnerbros.com/

300 cashes millions at the box office March 13, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life.
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The comic-book adaptation 300 portrays a hopeless battle of antiquity, but the film routed its box-office foes over the weekend in North America, according to preliminary studio estimates issued Sunday.

Starring Gerard Butler as Leonidas, the King of Sparta, the highly stylized had 70 million dollars in ticket sales during its premier from Friday through Sunday, more than the three-day gross revenue rest of the top 10 movies combined over the weekend.

It set a record for a March opening and was alone among the week’s new releases in the United States. The movie was reportedly made for just 60 million dollars.

The movie is based on a graphic novel by Frank Miller, the author whose work inspired the 2005 hit Sin City. It tells the story of 300 soldiers from the militaristic Greek city-state Sparta, who for days hold off a Persian army numbering in the hundreds of thousands, before fighting to the death.