Then unite heart in hand like Leonidas' band . . .
I have to confess also that the movie reminded me weirdly of The Lord of the Rings and Braveheart with some Hunchback of Notre Dame (well, Hunchback fo Thermopylae) thrown in.
I personally could have done with less blood, but I did like how they showed some of the fighting. A lot of it was obviously fictionalized, but it wasn't completely ignorant.
Also, though the story does seem exaggerated and at times hypocritical (in that they're talking about freedom but secretly they have helots), it makes sense because a Spartan is telling the story. It seems, to me, like the beginning of a mythology, and I like that.
Anyway, many people have been comparing this movie with America (which I won't really comment on in terms of current politics, except to remind people that the graphic novel was done before the currenet political situation), but this story has been associated with America since the nation's inception. A song written by Thomas Treat Paine (not the famous Thomas Paine of "Common Sense"--he would never have written something with this title!) in 1798 called "Adams and Liberty" ends such (to the tune of the Star Spangled Banner):
Let Fame to the world sound America's voice;
No intrigues can her sons from their government sever;
Her pride is her Adams; Her laws are his choice,
And shall flourish, till Liberty slumbers for ever.
Then unite heart and hand,
Like Leonidas' band,
And swear to the God of the ocean and land;
That ne'er shall the sons of Columbia* be slaves,
While the earth bears a plant, or the sea rolls its waves.
It's worth clicking the link to the entire song to see how mythology and the ancient world were wrapped into America's notions of freedom at the time. It's also just an amusing song--especially with the image given of George Washington!
*"Columbia" being America, as I guess they were still deciding whether Christopher Columbus or Amerigo Vespucci deserved more credit.