I haven’t seen 300 yet. But not because I’m not interested in the story.
I hadn’t heard of the Battle of Thermopylae until a few years ago, when I picked up a book called Atlantis Gate, by Greg Donegan. It was a sci-fi/fantasy thriller involving a war across time for the fate of the world. One front was ancient Greece, with one side aligning with the Spartans, and the other with the Persians. IIRC, the Spartans had to protect a gate in the pass until either someone could get a message through, or someone could close it. I actually found that the most interesting part of the book. The rest felt too much like it wanted to be an action movie. (About 2/3 of the way through I discovered it was actually the final book in a series of four. It didn’t grab me enough to pick up the earlier ones.)
Not long afterward, I started reading Harry Turtledove’s Videssos Cycle, in which a Roman legion gets transplanted to a sword-and-sorcery world. Among their number is a Greek doctor, who remarks at one point about the very same battle. At this point I realized that Donegan wasn’t making everything up, and started reading up on the actual battle.
So when I heard about the Frank Miller/Lynne Varley graphic novel, I put it on my wish list. Eventually I picked it up, read it, and enjoyed it. Then I heard they were making a movie, which sounded really promising.
Then the first previews aired, and it looked… well… overblown and hammy. Even the good reviews make it sound like two hours of hack-n-slash.
I think I’ll wait for the DVD.
(Sort of vaguely a response to Warren Ellis’ recent remarks on “Bad Signal” that he hasn’t seen 300 because he read the book—and didn’t like it.)