Well, it can be any one of the above, or all of them. What it is NOT, however, is a tale of the Battle of Thermopyle even distantly close to reality or even a decent movie worth your bucks. Here’s some more insights from the Christian Science Monitor:
Sparta is rendered, without irony, as the ideal Greek city-state. Boys are taken from their mothers at age 7 to learn the art of war. The Spartan king Leonidas (Gerard Butler) does not think much of the rival Athenians, whom he dismisses as “philosophers and boy lovers.” Far better to hone one’s pecs than one’s intellect.
When a Persian emissary demands that Leonidas submit to Xerxes, the Spartan honcho literally kills the messenger. Despite a lot of oracular mumbo jumbo warning Leonidas to cool it, he assembles three hundred – I guess it’s actually 299 – stalwart hunks to go up against Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) knowing full well they all will die…
The Spartans, to a man, are fighting machines who look as if they’ve been spending quality time on their rowing machines. They look like cover models for “Muscle and Fitness” magazine. When they rampage over the Persians, we might as well be watching a WWE Smackdown, Thermopylae-style: “Leonidas vs. Xerxes!!” Pity there was no pay-per view in 480 B.C.