Saturday, March 10, 2007


300 hundred essentially met my expectations. It didn't disappoint, but it didn't astound either. I saw it yesterday in a sold out show, and two or three times during the course of the movie the screen met with thunderous applause (this is why seeing movies on opening day is so much more enjoyable). The movie exciting, and it was stunning, but it never went much further than pretty pictures and inspirational speeches. It does well for what it is- a comic book epic, but never really stretches beyond that mold.

Director Zack Snyder's visions is based off Frank Miller's graphic novel of the same name. He had some difficult tracks to follow, coming a few years after Sin City- Miller's other recent adaptation. Fortunately for the audience, Miller was involved heavily in the production of both of those movies, and they both remain fairly true to their sources. 300 follows King Leonidas, played by Gerard Butler, and 300 of his Spartan soldiers as they make a stand against the advancing Persian army, led by King Xerxes. It is essentially 300 against a million, and of course the Spartans are forced to make the ultimate sacrifice. The inspiration comes in their knowledge of this fact from the very beginning, yet their willingness to fight anyway. So yes, it is inspirational, but it's no Braveheart or Gladiator.

The movies plays out like a comic book, which is good. The camera movements are very original, and some of the strongest points in the movie. Slow motion action with rapid camera movement creates a very surreal effect, and almost like your following comic book panels. Even the blood looked drawn on, and was that brown globular comic book blood- which I loved.

The entire movie was shot in front of the blue screen, so of course the leads to some stunning visuals. The matte paintings for the background are lush, and some of the set pieces are just amazing (Xerxes throne for one). The movie shows much more like a fantasy than a historical epic. I think it's probably important to go into it not expecting history, but adventure. There are certain members of Xerxes army that defy all concept of normality. The immortals, the various animals he employed from around his empire, and one odd fellow that had swords for arms.

300 follows epic movie tradition in featuring a lot of overly dramatic action. It works fine in a setting like this, however. Almost everything in the movie is communicated through the yelling of speeches. This seems to fit with the overblown nature of the visuals. Butler delivers a bulk of these speeches with force and grace- he does a fine job. Lena Headly, who plays his wife, Queen Gorgo, does a fantastic job giving her character a subtle strength. She juxtaposes the woman's role back home, but shows that she is just as powerful.

The movie came off a little schizophrenic, however. At some points it seemed like it wanted to be an epic ancient movie, and at other times it wanted to be a modern stylistic gore fest. It was honestly a little difficult for me to see how the grand sweeping score, and occasional metal guitars worked together. For the most part it seemed to stick with the epic nature, but I feel that it was a little too influenced by Sin City stylistically. For the most part 300 has a unique and wonderful style, but during the occasional spots (especially the credits), it strays from this into a more straight from comic book atmosphere.

Also, it features a few unnecessary scenes, that even though they followed the novel, didn't come across as important on screen. There is a lengthy number with an oracle that just seems to be there to throw a little nudity in the movie. The scene is followed closely by a clumsy and lazy sex scene, that could just as well have been left out.

I liked this movie, and I'm glad I went (if you want to see it, see it on the big screen). I think you can probably tell fro the trailers if you'll like it. There's no surprises, and the previews show the movie like it actually is. If it doesn't look like it appeals to you, then it probably doesn't. If you think it looks fun and exciting, trust me, it is. I enjoyed it, but it didn't do anything to astound me. I don't put it in the upper echelons of the classics like Ben-Hur or Sparticus, but I do think it was better than movies like Troy and Alexander. Again, it was lot of really pretty pictures, and oozed inspiration.


1 comment:

Shawn said...

What sets this apart from being just another generic ancient greece action film is probably the presentation of it. Having the soldier tell the story and being able to see it as though one of the greek soldiers would have viewed adds to the power of the film and sets a standard for the way these kind of movies should be done. Where even the elephants, already large, were presented in exagerated proportions. This movie had shortcomings though such as being a little plot jumpy in certain parts and a sex scene of the king and queen that really didn't do much for the plot. While I feel it layed down some ground work for shedding a new light on how to make this particular sub genre, the film itself wasn't overally compelling.