I have to say that 300 was worth the wait... for the most part. Visually stunning, this movie, like its Frank Miller brethren, Sin City, is going to revolutionize the way that people make films based on comic books -- fusing comics and motion pictures into one seamless organism and ocular orgasm.
This film will have a profound impact on the genre as Terminator 2 and The Matrix did for action films and special effects. This film is set to become a cult classic, especially among the readers of the graphic novel and Frank Miller. Anyway, enough of my philosophy, and on with the review:
If you are not yet aware of the movie's plot, 300 is the cinematic adaptation of Miller's illustrated work based on the Battle of Thermopylae circa 480 B.C. This battle pitted 300 Spartans against the massive and seemingly indomitable forces of the Persian Empire, which was reaching the pinnacle of its power. The transvestite-looking, self-proclaimed God-King Xerxes (Rodrigo Santaro: Lost ) seeks to rule the world and needs the ancient City-State to facilitate his conquest of Greece and the rest of the Mediterranean. However Spartan King Leonidas (Gerard Butler: Dracula 2000, Phantom of the Opera), will have none of that shit. Thunderous, fearless, and defiant, Leonidas is passionately committed to the sovereignty of his beloved Sparta, (as well as his own), and will not easily hand over his reign and submit to another, especially a Persian. After a Persian emissary (Pete Mensah) makes a proposal to Leonidas to hand over his crown (and become Xerxes' bitch), and insults his bold and beautiful queen (Lena Heady), Leonidas becomes bent on kicking Persian ass, beginning with the insolent messenger.
After he raises his royal scepter to his queen's tiara, Leonidas takes 300 of his best warriors to do battle with the tremendous Persian army to prevent Xerxes' forces from enslaving his land, his people, and the rest of the known world. As they march towards a virtual suicide mission, doughty Queen Gorgo, in a Tammy Wynette "Stand By Your Man" fashion, petitions the Senate to send the rest of the Spartan army to back her husband and the 300 hotties... I mean... soldiers who bravely and unquestioningly follow their king to engage hundreds of thousands of Persians. Complicating her endeavor to earn the politician's backing, is the sly Theron (Dominic West: The Forgotten, Hannibal Rising), who favored Sparta's submission to the Persians to not only avoid war, but to serve his own agenda.
Now, although the graphic novel which the film visually interprets is based on a true story, neither are historically correct; the movie inserts pieces that were never in the book. However, this is of little consequence as the true heart of the film are the battles -- the bloody, savage, adrenaline raising battles. Exhibiting the same long take combat sequences as the lackluster Children of Men, the battle scenes are heightened into a stunningly magnificent tour de force that will nail you to your seat. Nothing so sumptuous has been materialized on the silver screen, making its predecessor Sin City seem anemic in comparison. Director Zack Snyder proves that one indeed can deliver a 3-dimensional rendering using green/blue screen. You can see every detail of those deliciously ripped Spartan bodies, almost feel the splatter of flying blood, and at times forget that you aren't watching a live action performance. By melding fast paced and slow-motion action, the battle sequences turn fiercely intense and transform themselves into beautiful but savage ballet. The reverie of the Oracle's Dance scene is one of the most mesmerizing and phantasmagorical thing that, until now, has ever been witnessed.
It is awe-inspiring to watch the 300 scantily clad Spartans devour the Persian army that includes African fauna, fantastic man-beast warriors, and the samurai-like "Immortals" with nothing more than swords, spears, shields, and spirit. Employing cunning strategy and resourceful logistic, Leonidas manages to hold off Xerxes' troops for 3 days, until --well you know how it ends. There are some added embellishments to the story that obviously serves as dramatic filler to link the fighting spectacles with one another.
Now, the movie is not without its imperfections, at least story wise. While the acting was acceptable, the storyline, apart from the historical aspect, was relatively unsurprising. The dialogue was stilted, the drama was frozen, and the characters were unappealing -- lacking any bona fide depth; thus making it difficult to scratch up any empathy for them, even the super-heroic warriors, with perhaps the exception of the gentle queen. It's nearly impossible not to detect similarities to Lord of the Rings, Braveheart, and Gladiator (not necessarily in that order), and I sniffed a bit of Messianic martyrdom in Leonidas' character. Another point at which 300 falters, is that the movie became diminished as it ran past its second hour. Of course as with most movies today that depict a historical event or period piece, the actors have British accents, regardless of the story setting. From time to time you can hear Butler's Scottish accent poking through as he orates fervent pep-talks to his hunky troops, who not once wavered in their faith or their courage.
I loved 300, despite the shortcomings of the story and mediocre acting by most of the cast. There are scenes and lines that could have had more of an impact had they not been given away by the over-televised trailer. I can understand how the film may disappoint because the trailer and the hype for this movie made you expect more than amazing visuals of breathtaking battles. The film's salvation and what impressed me, as it will surely do for others, is of course the artistic and mind-blowing optical extravaganza. Not to mention the scantily clad men and the pert, dainty breasts of Spartan women are a nice bonus too.
Czarina's First Date Rating: I rate this movie B; which means if I saw it on a first date I would*:
* Czarina does not give blow jobs on the first date... (often).
Czarina's Captious Compliment of Caustic Comment: I’d take on those 300 Spartans…if you know what I mean.
All Hail The Czarina, and the Spartans too
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