Cast: Gerard Butler, Lena Headey, Dominic West, David Wenham, Rodrigo Santoro, Vincent Regan, Michael Fassbender, Tom Wisdom, Andrew Pleavin, Andrew Tiernan, Giovani Cimmino, Kelly Craig, Eli Snyder, Tyler Max Neitzel, Stephen McHattie, Greg Kramer, Alex Ivanovici, Tim Connolly, Marie-Julie Rivest, Sebastian St. Germain
In the Greek city-state Sparta, the education of young Leonidas (Snyder/Neitzel) emphasizes self-discipline, courage, and toughness of body and mind. He fights a wolf alone, and trains incessantly for combat. In 480 B.C., Persian King Xerxes (Santoro) takes his million-man army across the Hellespont to European soil, intent on conquering Greece. Xerxes sends a messenger to Sparta, offering participation as a vassal state if they surrender to the Persian Empire, and threatening slavery and death if they do not. Insulted, the adult King Leonidas (Butler) kills Xerxes’ messenger. Although Leonidas is ordered by the Oracle not to take the Spartan army into battle, he sets out with 300 picked warriors to fight the Persians and gain time for other Greeks to form a larger army. Reminded by a Spartan statesman of the Oracle’s edict, Leonidas claims that he is merely going for a stroll with his personal bodyguard. As Leonidas leaves, his wife, Queen Gorgo (Headey) sends him off with the words “Spartan, come back with your shield, or on it.” The small Spartan force and a few hundred Thespians and Arcadians decide to block the Persian army’s progress in the pass at Thermopylae. Meanwhile, Queen Gorgo attempts to convince both the hesitant Spartan councilors and the deceitful Theron (West) to send more warriors to aid Leonidas. But Theron insists that Leonidas’ march to war constitutes an usurpation of power, and Gorgo’s pleas are not heeded. At Thermopylae, King Xerxes expects the Greeks to be frightened by his immense army and surrender. When the Greeks stand firm, Xerxes unleashes his Asian hordes. The superior training and élan of the Spartan-led force allows them to fight off the Persians, who cannot use their greater number to full advantage in the narrow pass. Thousands of Persians are killed, but the traitor Ephialtes (Tiernan) reveals a secret passage to Xerxes, and they are able to outflank Leonidas. The film is notable for its intensive use of computer-generated imagery. Special effects supervisor: Louis Craig. Visual effects supervisors: Chris Watts and Kirsty Millar. Based on Frank Miller’s graphic novel of the same name.