Zack Snyder’s “300,” was given a 4K restoration on September 29th, 2020. For those who have not seen the film, Synder takes the graphic novel written by Frank Miller and places the audience in it. The Persian god-king Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) is attempting to take over the free country of Greece and he has his eyes set on the battle ready Spartans led by King Leonidas (Gerard Butler). Due to politics, the entire Spartan army is unable to fight Xerxes so King Leonidas and his personal guard of 300 soldiers use their knowledge of the Greek terrain to stop the Persians.
When 300 was first released back in 2006, it grossed $456,068,181 worldwide on a $65 budget. At the time, Frank Miller was enjoying a welcome career resurgence and Zack Snyder was an up and coming filmmaker.
This was Snyder’s second film and while it may not have had much historical truth to it, it established what Snyder’s style as a filmmaker. The film was shot on 35mm with an immense amount of CGI. It may not be Snyder’s best film, but easily one of his most quotable. The “this is Sparta!” line is still heavily used today.
As mentioned, the film is not historically accurate and frankly it’s not even really that great of an adaptation of Frank Miller’s graphic novel. Regardless, it looks amazing and it entertains! This new release gives the film a notable visual improvement over prior releases or streaming platforms. As of this review, the film is only on Hulu which is only available in HD (Blu-ray equivalent). Even if it was the 4K scan, one would need a decent internet speed to watch such a high resolution as 4K without facing any issues. Hulu states that one would need at least 16 megabits per second (Mbps) but one would need either 25 Mbps or higher for a truly stable stream.
The film is 117 minutes long and was filmed on 35mm film. It has a 2.39:1 aspect ratio so it will have black bars on the top and bottom of the film. The transfer uses a 2K digital intermediate (DI) but even so, it has never looked any better. However, due to that use of a 2K DI, the visual difference will not be a night and day comparison. The biggest difference is that this new release adds high dynamic range with HDR10 which gives the film a better color representation.
There is a noted improvement in the film’s details, colors, black levels, and contrast that are consistently shown throughout the film. This is most noticeable with face close-ups, clothing, and the non CGI set pieces which all have more detail from their texture to the skin tones. While this film does have a lot of film grain, it never feels overwhelming in comparison to the 1080p Bluray. However, because of the massive amount of CGI used in this film the HDR does unfortunately show it more which could be a good or bad thing. It’s not a deal breaker and the video still looks better than it ever has in the past.
VIDEO SCORE: 4/5
The BIGGEST difference between this release and the prior ones is the new Dolby Atmos audio mix. And when one says that this film slaps, they mean it. One can hear lightning crashing across their room with the thunder and rain coming down around them. One can hear and feel the door open from the back of the room to the front when Leonidas meets the messenger before saying his most famous words.
All of this makes the film feel more epic than it has ever felt before. During David Wenham‘s narration, Tyler Bates’s score fills the room around him when the battles start. The sounds of shields, swords, spears, and screaming men crashing around the soldiers is a beautiful thing to experience. During the “fight in the shade” sequence, arrows can be heard flying down on top of the viewers. All of this and the dialog is crystal clear. THIS is the REASON to upgrade to 4KUHD!
AUDIO SCORE: 5/5
This is another section that does not include an upgrade aside from a commentary track with Zack Snyder, Kurt Johnstad, and director of photography Larry Fong on the 4k disc.
4K UHD Blu-ray Disc
- Audio Commentary
1080p Blu-ray Disc
- Audio Commentary
- The 300: Fact or Fiction
- Who Were the Partans? The Warriors of 300
- Preparing for Battle: The Original Test Footage
- The Frank Miller Tapes
- Making 300
- Deleted Scenes
Special Features Score: 3/5
Again, this film may not be Zack Snyder’s best but it is definitely his most entertaining. Though not night and day, the new release is the best it has ever looked and the new Atmos audio track make this film absolutely worth purchasing.
4/5 (Not reference quality but worth buying/upgrading for full price)
About the reviewer:
My name is Dre, aka The Formal Review, and I am a huge home entertainment and physical media enthusiast. I have been a cinephile since childhood and have studied science, film, art, and mathematics. Need movie analysis in your life? You can follow me on social media, check out my podcast for my film analyses, my YouTube channel for breakdowns, and also letterboxd for my numerical reviews of films.
Other than watching films, I read comic books, watch sports, and mess around with my home theatre hobby.
How I review 4K UHD:
I will write about the films that I own that either I buy or already own. If a reader wants me to review a specific film, I will. No matter if it’s good or bad, I will be honest and if it is worth the upgrade over the prior releases and/or streaming. The rating scale for each section is on a simple 1-5 and 5 is kept for the reference quality films. The overall score is then the average number of the three which is either rounded up or rounded down. The score is then put on this word scale.
5: Reference Quality/The Best/Must Own
4: Not reference but worth buying/upgrading at full price
3: Worth Buying/Upgrading but wait for a sale
2: Fans Only
1: Skip it unless you absolutely need it.
Updated Equipment Used for Review: