26 March 2007


I saw "300" a couple of days ago and let me share some of the reactions I've had throughout the film. Firstly, it is not clear whether I liked the film or not, I'm a little divided and unsure. I didn't think it was worth my usual imdb ramblings. If I had to write of my final impression of "300", I'll probably end up confusing myself. So I've taken the easy option. I've divided the Likes and Dislikes into two groups so that you can get a sense of how this film rocked and how it disappointed me.

So first, the Likes:

Leonidas - what a character! Blazing eyes, great Herculean body, sexy beard, bravely leads a bunch of Spartans to battle against an entire army of invading Persians. His slightly gregarious air reminded me of the winged Prince Vultan in the movie, Flash Gordon. Although Leonidas is not as funny as Prince Vultan.

Queen Gorgo - without a doubt, my favourite character, resolved to do anything for her husband. Her proud, graceful appearance belies the strong minded logician beneath. A tough cookie that one! Packs a mighty sword thrust too, as you'll see. Great hair style.

The hot scene where Leonidas and Queen Gorgo get it on - intermittent silent shots of ripping erotica. Just enough to tease the senses. Or not enough.

The ethereal dance of the sensual Oracle girl - Kelly Craig has such perfect skin! Aaaagh! I also gathered that this film has a strange fascination for perky, erect nipples. Perky, erect nipples piercing through sheer fabric. And notice the underlying media message please. If you're a red head and are gifted with translucent white skin, then it is clear that you belong to the other-worldly beauty category: "5th Element", Shyamalan's "Lady in the Water", the character, Laura, in Patrick Suskind's "Perfume" and now "300"? Interesting...

King Xerxes's piercings (wow, that was a mouthful) and all that fine jewellery adorning most of the Persian characters. I think the Costume department had a ball making this film. Loved it.

The Persian magicians - oh, the mystique! Garlands of gold leaves adorn the veils of these black clad warrior figures as they spin around in a mist of smoke and throw the most gorgeous grenade shells I've ever seen. Makes "the Illusionist" look a bit stupid.

Post post post Gollum - the hideous outcast trying to fit into society and/or make friends until he is rejected and seeks vengeance. I'm afraid the film would have been quite boring without this freak. No sooner had his bony hand appeared on the scene that I tuned in.

The astounding (ok, digitally enhanced) choreography - you know those silly battle scenes ("Alexander" is a perfect example, but there's worst) where there is absolutely not a single sign of strategy or strike or counterstrike ...no sign of err, battle? Where limbs and groaning faces are intertwined in an insignificant melee and where you wonder what the cameramen were thinking? "300" is not like that. Every battle is a perfect dance, it's simply entrancing and very beautiful to watch. Makes you want to don those fashionable Spartan sandals and buy a plastic sword & shield kit from Target so that you can practice at home. (Sadly, I am a little bit rusty, I haven't been Sheera since I turned 8.)

Some of the dialogue is funny - King Leonidas, particularly, delivers some witty lines. I liked the scene where he refers to the Oracle girl as a "drunken adolescent". Or when he makes some unfavourable allusions to the hedonistic Athenians. And the scene where he nonchalantly munches on an apple just before a battle. It creates a sense of normalcy for the characters. The fact that we wouldn't expect the dialogue to be so casual or to see bigger than life characters engage in mundane activities, is amusing.

The Imagery, The Sensual Imagery, The Sexual Imagery - Frank Miller rocks!

Ok, wow, so it's a great film. But now take a look at those bits that truly reeked:

The musical score sucks. It's just loud and flat. It could have been a lot better, and worked to arouse the senses, as film music should, but it didn't really help. The splendid imagery worked alone. The worst for me was in the final scene, with that try-hard Lisa Gerard wannabe moaning away in a foreign tongue. I did not appreciate the elements in that scene, at all. It reminded me of "Gladiator". I felt that 300 aspired to the same awe that Gladiator created and in short, it fell short. It was not only emotionally flat, but it was a cheap copy.

Also, there's something dead about this film. Apart from the action-packed battles and the powerful visual language of its individual shots, there lacked a sense of momentum, a flow. There was hardly any suspense. The Spartans kept winning too easily. Bad direction? I don't know what to call it.

The pro-war ideology. Bad! Don't go there.

Glorification of the military. Yes, I know, they were, after all, Spartans. But it just got under my skin.

The pro-gulf-war ideology. Neverending brainwashing. Ok, here's where I was totally agaced: Queen Gorgo's speech before the council. (Think, Queen Gorgo faces the Security Council and you can see where I'm coming from.) I couldn't help but to detect several implied (but thoroughly incorrect) parallels between her persuasive plea for assistance in the battle against the Persians and Bush's initial justification for our presence in Iraq. The film ennobled the Spartans with good reason but at the same time, it served as an excuse for the ugly motives of real life power institutions. For that reason, it made me sick. There's also that persistent nagging message throughout the entire film about the impending threat of nuclear Iran (aka Persia). Bla bla bla. It never stopped. I'm sure the producers were on to something when they pulled out this particular graphic novel and decided to make it a film.
But hold. Am I seeing patterns where there are none?
Still, it was very annoying and while I was not offended, (as I'm sure some people will no doubt be when they watch this film) I took an opposing view to the text.
It was nothing short of preaching and with the upcoming elections in both the US and Australia, it was sickening. Puke.

The annoying Narrator - I don't like narrators. If I wanted a narrator, I'd read a book. So I would say that 300 wasn't as successfully scripted for the screen, as it could have been. But I'm just being picky I suppose.

Ok, so overall, it's a 6/10.

Can't wait for Sin City 2.

1 comment:

Reuben said...

oo. so jealous.

I do want to see 300. Maybe I'll go see it tomorrow night, by myself. Won't get a chance on Thursday because of work stuff (boo!).

The only thing I noticed from the ads is that everything seems to have been touch by CGI. Of the few lines I've seen delivered by KL, its quite clear that he's been touched up, either by makeup, but more probably, CGI. Just the way he seems to be gnashing those perfect teeth while delivering some threat or war cry. Jaws just don't seem to move like that in real life. Its almost like they temporarily unhinged themselves for the vowels.

The other nice thing about the ads is the presence of the mythology. Making it quite clear this is not a historical documentary. Its pure fiction, borrowing from an idyllic image of hour Sparta may have existed, should the Gods have ruled from the heavens, and interfered with the petty squabbles of humans.

Of course, I just have this urge to reach down my ADSL line and slap the little WoW heads that have taken this thing as gospel (not dissimilar to the Da Vinci Code), and those that keep going on about how the Spartans were cool.

My imagery of the real Sparta (thoroughly uneducated as well), would be a well oiled war machine, yet grotty and savage as a band of adolescent chimpanzees preparing to make war on a neighbouring tribe for protein supplies. I could go on and on, but should probably save it for my blog. :)