300

posted at 12:15 pm on March 16, 2007 by Bryan

Yesterday afternoon as the temperature dropped 20 degrees and a storm front bulled into the area, I went back in time to watch King Leonidas stand against the Persian hordes of Xerxes.

Or, I would have gone back in time had the film 300 allowed it. But it doesn’t. The film depicts an epic battle 25 centuries past but keeps the viewer firmly in the 21st century through an overuse of Matrix-esque special effects, monstrous makeup and masks and in its overall sensibility and construction. It’s heavy metal meets Herodotus. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, I guess.

300 is a very strange film, and in places its strangeness works. The Persians’ grotesque combat giants, the bizarre monstrosity of the Immortals in their frightening Japanese-style metal masks, and Xerxes’ own unnatural height and voice, all lend the Spartans’ enemies an otherworldly, evil quality that makes it obvious that you’re not supposed to root for them. They’re decadent, they’re slaves, they’re a mass of inhumanity that slaughters villagers by the dozen, and they’re just plain weird–they’re bad news. Go Sparta!

But the film’s slashing editing style left me so far outside the story that, in the middle of one of the many, many battle scenes, I nearly fell asleep. Seeing the film for the first time, I’d already seen it all before. That’s a shame, because the setting — the battle of Thermopylae — is one of the most heroic stories in Western culture. The film makers had a lot to work with, but chose to keep the film closer to cartoon than reality. That makes sense given 300′s origins as a Frank Miller graphic novel, but the treatment kept me far removed from the action. You’re not watching heroes battle. You’re watching a technogeek’s version of watching heroes battle. It’s kinetic but flat. And I’m talking more about technique than story exposition. In 300 you don’t get a Saving Private Ryan battle that sounds so real you’d swear that last bullet just whizzed by your cranium. You don’t get a Helm’s Deep fight so huge and complex that you can’t take it all in. The action in 300 is on that scale, but the storytelling isn’t. In 300 you get spun around swordplay depicted in a way that keeps the action up there on the screen, not right in your lap where it should be. The effects, while cool to watch, kept tossing me out of the story. In that way, this film feels too much like the Geonosis execution scene from Attack of the Clones — beautiful to look at from a technological point of view but ultimately without much spirit or soul.

None of which is to say that 300 is a bad film. It’s not. The performances are all convincing to the extent that the actors are allowed to act, and the burnished bronze look and the comic book composition of most of the scenes make 300 an amazing thing to watch. We’re in an age now when movies can look like anything the director and designers can dream up and then pay to render, and in making 300 they must have done a lot of dreaming and rendering. I just wish they’d done more writing. A little more set-up on why the Persians of antiquity were so evil from the Greek point of view would have done wonders. A little more story to make the major characters more three-dimensional would have been welcome. I’m not asking for a Lifetime disease-of-the-week treatment here, just a little bit more sinew to hold the whole thing together.

300 obviously isn’t a family film. It isn’t supposed to be. It’s bloody and graphic and rough, with severed heads and limbs going airborne all over the place. It’s a manly film, full of heroic poses and speeches, a few strategic gambits and just enough of a plot to keep you with it all the way to the fourth quarter. So see it, men of the West, if you want to see some hearty fighting and comraderie and don’t mind some nudity. See it just to support one of the few war movies that wasn’t made explicitly for the purpose of undermining our war resolve. See it if you want to see good men die hard so that others might live in freedom (er, or at least the Spartan version of freedom). Just don’t expect much more than a Lucasfilm approach here, in which an epic story of freedom and liberty is reduced to striking vistas lacking depth.

300 is a fun film. I emptied my box of popcorn. But afterward I felt like what I’d seen on screen hadn’t been any more substantial than that snack.

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Comment pages: 1 2

You’re totally smoking crack.

Kai on March 16, 2007 at 12:18 PM

Could be. Or maybe it just didn’t grab me.

Bryan on March 16, 2007 at 12:20 PM

There was only one part that felt kinda boring and that were all the Gorgo scenes, imo. Both, her negotiating with the traitorous politician (oxymoron) and the setup with the council.

I mean, at least it wasn’t another Gladiator. And the battle scenes played out much differently. Granted, the slo-mo was a tad bit much after the 10th time it was used, but at least it wasn’t used generically and was there (imo) to help the viewer see the combat.

Kai on March 16, 2007 at 12:23 PM

I don’t think the slo-mo was there to help viewers see the combat. It was there because it added to the graphic novel feel, and because it’s a cool effect. Once or twice, it stays cool. But more than that and it’s in the way imho.

Bryan on March 16, 2007 at 12:26 PM

I haven’t seen the film, but given the fact that it was based on a graphic novel I wouldn’t expect much realism. Sounds like an entertaining popcorn film to me. Movies for guys who like movies, a la Predator.

packsoldier on March 16, 2007 at 12:28 PM

Yes, CGI – a blessing and a curse. Seems like there is a fine line between cool and over the top.

I still like 300, because I had no misconceptions heading into the film. I knew it was going to be fun – escapism – which is why I go to the movies. I’m at the point now where I can’t stand “movies that make you think”, or real-life docu-dramas. When I want to think I read a book, when I want to be entertained I see a movie.

Still, there is almost a video game feel to a lot of movies that are heavy into CGI these days. There is a video game feel to other movies, too. I just saw Casino Royale and I was laughing hysterically by the end of the construction site chase scene, thinking these guys must play a lot of video games…

reaganaut on March 16, 2007 at 12:31 PM

My view on 300…

Its a Fable… its the way a Man would tell his Son… his Spartan Son… of the battle… He doesn’t tell of Xerxes motivations, or build 3D characters… he tells of heroism, and exagerates a bit to make it a better story.

Sounds like you were looking for Tolstoy when you went to see a Zorro movie…

Romeo13 on March 16, 2007 at 12:38 PM

Bryan,

Maybe you just need some testosterone supplements. Just kidding! Seeing a movive is all about frame of mind. You just weren’t in it. The the focal point of the movie was about the integrity and purity of a warrior. Fear and doubt and are not a part of their lives. It’s an essence of a pure a warrior showing intgrity and commitement of actions to the end using reason to execute raw emotion. If you never liked comic books like Spiderman, Batman, X-Men you would never be expected to like a film like this. That’s it. It’s not a history lesson of fact it’s a history lesson of soul. Comic books strip out details to focus on core elements.

Egfrow on March 16, 2007 at 12:42 PM

Can’t wait to see it, nonetheless. 2006 had to be the most sucking year for films, ever, and already there is more than one 2007 premier I’m really looking forward to.

Halley on March 16, 2007 at 12:42 PM

I don’t think the slo-mo was there to help viewers see the combat. It was there because it added to the graphic novel feel, and because it’s a cool effect.

Bryan on March 16, 2007 at 12:26 PM

The movie would’ve been about 30 minutes shorter without all the slo-mo. I would expect that much slo-mo had Fred Thompson been in the battle because Fred Thompson fights with a speed that he cannot be seen by human eyes.

Then again, had Fred Thompson been at the Battle of Thermopylae, the movie “300” would’ve been called “1

And lasted 30 minutes…

…with 28 1/2 of it in slo-mo…

…and the Persians would’ve lost.

ScottMcC on March 16, 2007 at 12:42 PM

Bryan, I suspect this film was not made for you.

My 16 year old son was totally engrossed in it. Of course he is a gamer. Like you, I found the movie strange but interesting. However, I thought the slo-mo effect was fine, including the fact it was used twice and in a prolonged shot. It’s a ballet, man!

I’ll give 300 three stars overall, two stars for script, and four stars for plot, “message”, and cinematography.

I recommend you go see it again, when you are in a better mood.

huckleberry on March 16, 2007 at 12:43 PM

I see what you are saying bryan, and Romeo13 hit it on the head. It was more about a guy telling his army about Thermopylae and stressing the heroism so that the army at Marathon would kick serious Persion butt.

I also think that in many wayys this movie was geared for the liberals. Meaning that they kept it simple, good vs bad, freedom vs slavery, so that mayber, just maybe, some liberals would wake up and shae off the intelectual dishonesty that grips them. Maybe the goal of the film is to show that their are things worth fighting, killing, and dieing for. And that Freedom is the pinnacle of such a sacrifice. That peace at all costs is slavery.

Wyrd on March 16, 2007 at 12:47 PM

This is Blasphemy!

PinkyBigglesworth on March 16, 2007 at 12:49 PM

Bryan, based on your writing lately I’m starting to worry that you’re suffering from Creeping Sensitivity and Nuance Syndrome.

No one ever said that reinstalling the American man’s long-lost testicles was going to be a painless process, but it’s worth it. Best of all it reminds us that we once made of far sterner stuff than we are now and we need to get it back. I’m hoping there are a hundred more movies like 300 over the next couple of years. We need them.

dostrick on March 16, 2007 at 12:51 PM

Excellent review, Bryan. I haven’t seen the movie yet myself, but I’m like the commenter above; I’m going in with no misconceptions. My one regret from my earlier school days was not diving deeply and interestedly into ancient history. I don’t think it’s too late to start, but there’s just so much of it to absorb. I will, however, do some research on the battle of Thermopylae because I want to know – but I’ll do it after I see the movie.

Thanks, Bryan…

MsUnderestimated on March 16, 2007 at 12:52 PM

Saw it,loved it, Ill see it again.. SPARTANS!!

Viper1 on March 16, 2007 at 12:52 PM

It helps to think of it as a Spartan propaganda film.

Jim Treacher on March 16, 2007 at 12:52 PM

It looked like a crappy movie to me too Bryan. Im not going to go see a movie just because the Leftys hate it.

No Captain Over – I Dont like movies about Gladiators.

p.s. I hate it when people say “Graphic Novel.” Theyre comic books people. Get over it.

amish on March 16, 2007 at 12:56 PM

Saw it,loved it, Ill see it again.. SPARTANS!!

Viper1 on March 16, 2007 at 12:52 PM

Ditto.

PRCalDude on March 16, 2007 at 12:56 PM

No one ever said that reinstalling the American man’s long-lost testicles was going to be a painless process, but it’s worth it. Best of all it reminds us that we once made of far sterner stuff than we are now and we need to get it back. I’m hoping there are a hundred more movies like 300 over the next couple of years. We need them.

dostrick on March 16, 2007 at 12:51 PM

Bingo.

Haven’t seen it yet (getting my infusion of cinematic testosterone tomorrow), but I’m definitely pumped up and ready for it. I can let the fact that it’s not historically accurate by any means slide since the movie makes no pretenses to the contrary. It pisses off all the right people (liberals, the tyrants in Iran, etc.) while espousing themes such as that there are some things worth fighting for.

‘Bout damn time. I’ll take this over former tough-guy Clint Eastwood’s Iwo Jima wimpfests any day.

thirteen28 on March 16, 2007 at 1:03 PM

Bryan, based on your writing lately I’m starting to worry that you’re suffering from Creeping Sensitivity and Nuance Syndrome.

Nah. I’m as insensitive and un-nuanced as ever. But when I watch a film, I don’t just go in looking for stuff that reinforces or goes against my point of view. I try to pay attention to how the story is told, and in 300 I just have a couple issues with how the story is told. It’s a mostly good film that could be better imho. It doesn’t hold up well against recent war films, but on its own it’s not bad if you go in without expecting too much depth. It’s a good popcorn flick.

Bryan on March 16, 2007 at 1:05 PM

In that way, this film feels too much like the Geonosis execution scene from Attack of the Clones

I’m proud to admit I have no frigging idea what you’re talking about here. Yeah, I saw Clones as a rental, but I don’t remember any of it. Still haven’t bothered with Sith.

In other movie news, I’m torn. INLAND EMPIRE opened today a five-minute walk from my house, but now Lynch has outed himself as, if not a Truther, a Truther sympathizer. Damn it!

Even stranger: David Lynch ran for mayor here recently…as a Republican.

saint kansas on March 16, 2007 at 1:13 PM

I, sir, am a Technogeek, and was very impressed with the movie. I can get how someone wouldn’t enjoy it as much as I, just as I can understand why someone wouldn’t spend 8 hours in front of a computer screen tapped into WoW for a ZF run (kudos to the first fellow geek to translate), but there were swords. Swords! It’s not meant ot be a “war film” as much as an aesthetically appealing era film with passion and gore. It’s a fantastic popcorn flick…I just wonder when we as film watchers started needng more fulfillment than that?

StoutRepublican on March 16, 2007 at 1:14 PM

This is madness!!!

liquidflorian on March 16, 2007 at 1:16 PM

Scott: The movie would’ve been call “1″

I never did like the use of “LOL” because, really, did you *actually* laugh outloud? But this did time I really did! Funniest comment of the day!

Still haven’t seen the movie yet, hope to soon, not easy to do with my work schedule and a baby at home.

I prefer historically acurate movies but if it gets people interested in history, enough to do some research, then I’m all for it. MsUnderestimated is living proof that this will be the case.

Just curious, has anybody seen “Flyboys”, about our fighter pilots in WW1? That’s another historical movie I wanted to see that looks like it, uh, *exaggerates* just a little bit.

Tony737 on March 16, 2007 at 1:16 PM

Sorry Bryan, but I gotta agree with you on this one.

I liked the movie, but the stop-action got annoying. I almost laughed when they mentioned in the beginning how important the phalanx was with the warning to never break the phalanx. What did they do when battle was joined? Broke the freaking phalanx for a servies of one-on-one battles. Pretty amusing.

I was very surprised they ignored two things that could have both made the movie more realistic and helped it as well.
The Greek’s helmets could have been much more imposing. You couldn’t see into them in real life, it made them scarier when you couldn’t see the eyes. In the movie, you could see their eyes.
They also left out the part about the raid on Xerxes palace-tent. That could have been a great scene.

Veeshir on March 16, 2007 at 1:19 PM

Flyboys is pretty decent as a popcorn flick. The aerial sequences are worth the price of a rental all by themselves. And it’s un-nuanced on bombing German arms depots — the film recommends it.

Bryan on March 16, 2007 at 1:20 PM

Casino Royal reference and possible spoiler.

Bryan,

Maybe you just need some testosterone supplements.

Maybe Bryan took a turn in the wicker chair with no bottom in it?

csdeven on March 16, 2007 at 1:25 PM

The 300 Factor

I rarely go to the movies, but have to check this out.

JammieWearingFool on March 16, 2007 at 1:26 PM

Bryan,

To each his own.

Saw it. Loved it. Real Men fighting Real Evil. And dying to save an honorable society. Nothing that a lot of nitpicking about this or that can’t diminish, just like in real life.

It’s all about what you think is important in life to me. There are object lessons in the smallest of actions, and grandest of scenarios. And if 300 Men fighting off 300,000 invading Persians for a few days isn’t impressive and a story worth telling in the annals of Western Civilization, then I guess it will always be just another nit to those who don’t pick.

Perhaps I’ll go back to my World of Warcraft nemesis and take them on in the ‘Zul Farrak dungeons. Maybe this time, the Spartans will win.

Subsunk

Subsunk on March 16, 2007 at 1:30 PM

Bryan: “It’s a manly film, full of heroic poses and speeches…”

Which is why some liberal reviewers hated it, of course. After all, liberalism’s fundamental premise is the sissified surrender of the West, while presided over by girlymen.

Romeo13: “its the way a Man would tell his Son… his Spartan Son… of the battle.”

Are not we all in the end, those of us who live in America and whose culture is descended from Greco-Roman, sons and daughters of Sparta?

True, we only hear the Greek side of the story in Homeric cast. But that’s (1) because the Greeks won at Salamis, ending Xerxes dream of conquest, and only the winners speak to us from history, and (2) it is an epic story of Heroes. We remember the name Leonidas as more than a cultural icon, because the story is more than politics; it is a story individual sacrifice in pursuit of a greater good. It is a story of leadership, magnificent enough, glorious enough, for a thousand men (including 700 Thespians) to take a final stand and die rather than surrender.

Technically, the Greeks were routed — their butts were kicked. They all died. Very much like Custer and his cavalry 2400 years later. Yet history reveres Leonidas while looking less kindly on Custer, whose blindness and overconfidence led him to disaster and the useless slaughter of his men.

The Little Big Horn was a battle that did NOT have to be fought, after all. Unlike Thermopylae, the Battle of the Little Big Horn was not a “holding action.” It was a BLUNDER of catastrophic proportions whose root cause was the ego of the commander. I predict that 2400 years from now, George Armstrong Custer, if his name is even remembered, will NOT be regarded with the same luster as that of King Leonidas of Sparta.

Romeo13: “Sounds like you were looking for Tolstoy when you went to see a Zorro movie…”

Zorro’s good. I like Zorro. But then, I’m told I have simple tastes that go with my lowbrow mentality, too. ;^)

georgej on March 16, 2007 at 1:33 PM

I’m not asking for a Lifetime disease-of-the-week treatment here, just a little bit more sinew to hold the whole thing together.

I think the director wanted to avoid that for politics sake. The left is already up in arms. What if the movie goes through the history of the conquering Persian empire and their generational attempts to conquer Greece and eventually Europe? Could you imagine the outcry?

Theworldisnotenough on March 16, 2007 at 1:34 PM

I think what Bryan says is essentially corrrect, but I loved it anyway because I went in knowing exactly what I was going to see. It didn’t have too much of a story, but it wasn’t trying to have one either. Like VDH said, it was impressionistic, and the spirit was there.

Chris L. on March 16, 2007 at 1:34 PM

Lifetime disease of the week. Hilarious.

Theworldisnotenough on March 16, 2007 at 1:35 PM

The Iranians sure didn’t like it. “American cultural officials thought they could get mental satisfaction by plundering Iran’s historic past and insulting this civilization,” said Javad Shamqadri, the cultural adviser to Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

That, alone, should make you want to see it……..

PinkyBigglesworth on March 16, 2007 at 1:35 PM

Jeeze, this reminds me of the debate between the Tolkien purists and people who just enjoyed the story.

Bryan has a point and that’s fine for him.

I seen it as a statement that what was aprpo 2500 years ago is aprpo today. There are values that are indeed unquashable. Freedom, honor, devotion, and faith.

Some very important values for the kids of this generation. And by no small coincedence, they happen to be the target audience of this film. CGI, T&A, blood and gore. Sneaking in some very important values that they do not get from gaming (2nd life et al) is a good thing.

csdeven on March 16, 2007 at 1:38 PM

In a semi-related post to above.

I imagine a lot of people are hearing about this historical event for the first time. Especially those of us who went to public school.

When I was going to school the ancient world was seldom mentioned. I think we talked about ancient Greece maybe a half dozen times from K-12. Sparta only once, when the teacher denounced them as bloodthirsty militaristic barbarians. I learned about the Battle of Thermopylae only in my personal studies as an adult. However, one teacher did wax quite enthusiastic about Xerxes. It seems he was a truly awesome dude.

dostrick on March 16, 2007 at 1:38 PM

I hit the wrong key and either lost it or it was posted incomplete.

Anyway, The point that I was meandering about is: Even though 300 could have been more historically accurate, it could have been more like “Saving Private Ryan” – it’s a movie. Frank Miller and everyone else involved in making the movie are obviously in it for the money. They may or may not be history buffs but, they probably did not make “300″ to make a movie about history. Even if they did, introducing history to modern day movie goers is not the way to make money.

The 1962 movie, “The 300 Spartans” was so cheesy it was unbelievable. Even more so than “300″. At least, “300″ was at a mountain pass with a cliff wall on one side and a cliff drop-off to the sea on the other side.

LurP on March 16, 2007 at 1:41 PM

So, when does the prequel (Marathon) go into production?

Kid from Brooklyn on March 16, 2007 at 1:43 PM

Also, How many know that Xerxes was the Persian king that Esther was married too? The one who saved the Jewish people during their captivity in Persia.

LurP on March 16, 2007 at 1:45 PM

It’s not just a movie for guys. It’s also a great movie for freedom loving gals as well. Of course, I do play a lot more video games than the average girl, so the video game-esque feel to the movie didn’t bother me at all. Actually reminded me of one of my favorite games “God of War”.

I mentioned this on another thread about 300, but, for what it’s worth, my roommate is fluent in Latin and Ancient Greek (among other languages…..the jerk makes it look so easy to learn a new language) and his area of interest has always been Ancient Greece. He’s read Heroditus and other accounts of the battle of Thermopylae (as well as pretty much everything else he can get his hands on regarding the history of ancient Greece) and studied archeological findings surrounding the battle.

According to him, the movie did a surprisingly decent job of staying true to the Greek history of the battle. There were a few things changed for cinematic reasons, but nothing that he felt truly violated the history of what happened. So, while you shouldn’t go to the movie thinking that you’re going to get a history lesson, you should also not worry that all the history was thrown out just to make an exciting movie.

JadeNYU on March 16, 2007 at 1:49 PM

Also, How many know that Xerxes was the Persian king that Esther was married too? The one who saved the Jewish people during their captivity in Persia.

LurP on March 16, 2007 at 1:45 PM

Is the movie “One night with the King” related to that story?

csdeven on March 16, 2007 at 1:53 PM

Veeshir on March 16, 2007 at 1:19 PM

I laughed about the same thing. The hoplite fighting formation was one of the main reasons (that, and picking a strategically good place to make a stand) they were able to hold of the Persians as long as they did. Then, after Leonidas makes such a big deal out of it, they break formation in the first 30 seconds of fighting.

Still, I can understand that kind of change for an action movie. While the hoplite formation may have been tactically superior, it’s not nearly as interesting to watch as a bunch of oiled up guys with awesome abs fighting people one on one So, the phalanx loses out to the marketability of the movie.

JadeNYU on March 16, 2007 at 1:54 PM

LurP on March 16, 2007 at 1:45 PM

I’m guessing that not that many folk would know that little nugget. Then again, 300′s Xerxes doesn’t give off any straight monogamous vibes, does he?

Kid from Brooklyn on March 16, 2007 at 1:54 PM

Is the movie “One night with the King” related to that story?

csdeven on March 16, 2007 at 1:53 PM

Yes. Same Xerxes.

Kid from Brooklyn on March 16, 2007 at 1:54 PM

I’m for any movie that pisses off the Iranian government. Yeah this guys films are comic bookish and all about vengeance.

I wanted a better apex to the film but it was a tragedy and they always end in a downer. I feel the parallelism, being a Texan, to the Alamo. I think every great civilization has a pivotal sacrificial battle that becomes a transitional point for the civilization to end or begin or survive. Maybe Iraq is our pivotal battle or the Jihadists?

Drtuddle on March 16, 2007 at 1:57 PM

I see questions were asked since I last posted. Had to leave the computer for a bit. I also see they were answered.

The Xerxes of “300″ and “One Night With The King” are one and the same Xerxes.

A little known tidbit of history that a lot of people do not know.

LurP on March 16, 2007 at 2:03 PM

Who else wants to kick Bryan into the well for that review?

Mazztek on March 16, 2007 at 2:09 PM

I started watching “One night with the king” but didn’t get to finish it before it had to go back. I’m definately going to take the time to finish it.

Thanks all.

csdeven on March 16, 2007 at 2:15 PM

Sparta only once, when the teacher denounced them as bloodthirsty militaristic barbarians.

Yikes! I did ancient Greece in school when I was 11 and we covered all the city states with a special emphasis on the Athenians and Spartans as being especially brave. Reading Victor Davis Hanson and Robert Graves these days.

aengus on March 16, 2007 at 2:17 PM

It’s not a chick flick. Metrosexuals beware. “Brokeback Sparta” it ain’t.

If you think seeing hordes of lobster clawed, Persian untermensch getting creamed by top notch Western civilization saving soldiers on the big screen is way overdue, this is your movie. Leave the girlfriend home and bring buds that have been waiting to see the same thing. Forget popcorn, this is a spicy buffalo wing flick.

Hope they come out with good T-shirts for this one.

Hening on March 16, 2007 at 2:25 PM

People may disagree, but I could watch Spartans decapitate and rip apart the Persians in slow motion for hours and hours and hours. I LOVE IT!!!!

SillyRyno on March 16, 2007 at 2:29 PM

300 has two storylines, its reason vs. mysticism and its also very easy to see it as a metaphor for the modern threat of Islamo-fascism. The movie rocked.

check out Liberatas at Liberty Film Festival, they have some good stuff on this film.

jp on March 16, 2007 at 2:41 PM

Whether 300 is a masterpiece or not, if it ushers in a new era of pro-West, pro-victory films (by proving there is a lucrative audience for them) it will be at least in that regard a miracle of a film.

That’s probably more important outside the US than in. The rest of the world thinks the noblest call to arms is Fahrenheit 911 or Syriana, and seeing a totally other message coming from the bowels of Hollyhood will cause much-needed tremors…

Halley on March 16, 2007 at 2:49 PM

Halley on March 16, 2007 at 2:49 PM

The actual miracle is that a pro-west, pro-victory film even got made… notice no big stars…

Hollywood is in a tizzy right now… a low budget, non star studded action film with a positive Western messege is going very well…

Babbs is going balistic…

Romeo13 on March 16, 2007 at 2:52 PM

I watched it on a low-quality ripped version (the only version available in Baghdad), and I still thought it was awesome. I’ll buy the DVD as soon as it’s released.

I won’t say it’s the best movie ever, but it’s definitely in my top three now.

Jason on March 16, 2007 at 2:53 PM

It’s not a chick flick. Metrosexuals beware. “Brokeback Sparta” it ain’t.

My wife wanted to see it. She loved it.

PRCalDude on March 16, 2007 at 2:54 PM

I wish they had made Gates of Fire into a movie instead of 300.

Nonfactor on March 16, 2007 at 2:59 PM

One disconnect I suspect between those who loved the film and those who are middling about it has to do with visual orientation. And I don’t mean anything about superficial “eye candy” in the special effects sense–in fact, despite the budget and effort, most effects films just aren’t visually interesting at all. I mean visual appeal in a more traditional, graphical, aesthetic sense. If one has a visually-oriented psychology (as opposed to auditory, or tactile, verbal, etc.), “300″ offers a great deal of unusual and appealing displays of color, shapes, compositions, movements, and most other things cinematographic. To some brains, this is compelling in and of itself.

I won’t call it “art” (mostly because, again, most art these days isn’t visually interesting or appealing), but think of it instead as excellent illustration, along the lines of N. C. Wyeth or Howard Pyle. If you’re the kind of person who can look at that kind of painting and “get it”–and I don’t mean find it unobjectionable, but actively enjoy it–you’re more likely to enjoy “300″ on its surface merits. If you aren’t the type to get drawn in by the visual hook, it’s a little more work.

My wild-ass guess is that Bryan’s brain is wired more along verbal lines.

Blacklake on March 16, 2007 at 3:05 PM

I wish they had made Gates of Fire into a movie instead of 300.

Nonfactor on March 16, 2007 at 2:59 PM

Dittos on that!!!

LurP on March 16, 2007 at 3:06 PM

The success of 300 might just prompt a “Gates” movie. Something about rising tides, and whatnot…

I get the knocks on 300. However, at the end of the day, this is still Hollyweird we’re talking about. I’m grading them on a curve, and taking 300 for what it is. A pro-Western ray of sunshine….a beacon in a sea of anti-Western, anti-capitalism, anti-individualism, and anti-family values sea of darkness. Sure, the Persian characterizations are over the top. I’ll take those over real-looking ghey cowboys and Gaian propaganda 8 days out of the week.

THIS…IS….SPAAAAAAARRTAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!

Kid from Brooklyn on March 16, 2007 at 3:15 PM

While the hoplite formation may have been tactically superior, it’s not nearly as interesting to watch as a bunch of oiled up guys with awesome abs…
JadeNYU on March 16, 2007 at 1:54 PM

That’s exactly why they got rid of historical hoplite armor. Armor and phalanx would reduce the psychological state they wished to induce – sixpackophilia.

eeyore on March 16, 2007 at 3:32 PM

1) I think Bryan was expecting a docu-historical-drama, and got “Sin City.” Like Frank Miller said, it’s less about the history of Thermopylae than the mythology.

2) “Gates of Fire: The Movie” would be awesome, and I’d be one of maybe four or five people who would watch all 22 hours in one sitting. :)

3) It is a little-known fact that Fred Thompson secretly trained Chuck Norris in the Hidden 14th Shaolin Temple, nestled in the hills of Tennessee. (memealicious)

4) I think the CGI was more about saving money than being all “boy-gamer.” As the cost of CGI work decreases, we’ll see that more in movies. Some will work, some won’t.

Merovign on March 16, 2007 at 3:37 PM

I saw this today and I had several 300-gasms of pure entertainment based pleasure.

The phalanx in battle was an awesome sight to see. I liked the slow motion and it does remind me of a ballet. A ballet with representations of the male form in all its glory.

Will see this again, and purchase the DVD.

Stormy70 on March 16, 2007 at 3:39 PM

I think Bryan was expecting a docu-historical-drama, and got “Sin City.”

No, I knew exactly what to expect. I just thought the effects got in the way.

For what it’s worth, I hated Sin City but I didn’t hate 300.

Bryan on March 16, 2007 at 3:41 PM

Wow…

Way off in IMO.

300 was BY FAR the best film of the year. Probably better then The Departed in my opinion. Getting a 8.4 on IMDB currently…which say something about the film.

msipes on March 16, 2007 at 3:41 PM

5) It would be nice if they did have a good, solid docudrama with people from the movie for the “education TV/school” market, like they did with “Scorpion King,” which of course was even less historical as a movie than 300.

Then they could show the phalanxes and heavy armor that the Persian Army broke against like waves on stone.

Merovign on March 16, 2007 at 3:42 PM

Yikes! I did ancient Greece in school when I was 11 and we covered all the city states with a special emphasis on the Athenians and Spartans as being especially brave. Reading Victor Davis Hanson and Robert Graves these days.

aengus on March 16, 2007 at 2:17 PM

Just came back from Amazon and WikiPedia checking on Victor Davis Hanson who had slipped under my radar. Now I’m going to have to buy even more books that will annoy my Commie wife. Nice going.

BTW, I envy your school experience. As an example when I was in the 2nd grade back in the 60s we had a small assembly so that one of the teachers could show slides from her vacation in East Germany. She was genuinely perplexed when she showed us pictures of statues of Lenin and the girls made disgusted noises when she talked about how handsome he was. In particular, I remember her slides of the Berlin Wall which she informed us that East Germany had been forced to build to protect itself from the West. This was in a painfully small town. In Texas! In the 60s!

I’ve since done a fair amount of traveling myself and have come to a definite conclusion: Western Civilization rocks!

dostrick on March 16, 2007 at 3:54 PM

The slo-mo was better in IMAX.

E. M. on March 16, 2007 at 3:59 PM

Bryan, your review is spot on. The movie is a flat one dimensional series of special effects without historical fidelity. I would put the film on a par with Gladiator (right down to fields of grain), which I also liked, but picked apart. Hollyweird sucks.

mcgilvra on March 16, 2007 at 4:17 PM

“Go see 300. If you don’t like it, you probably hate America. That, or you’re gay.”

- Dr. Rusty Shackleford.

Vinnie on March 16, 2007 at 4:20 PM

Actually Andrew Sullivan’s smear is that if you like the film, you’re gay. Both he and Rusty are wrong, though Rusty is less wrong.

300 isn’t a bad film. It’s just flat and doesn’t hold together all that well.

Bryan on March 16, 2007 at 4:25 PM

Saw it and liked it. To me it was about RESOLVE. Resolve to live and die for justice, truth, and civilization in the face of a backward, brutally pagan civilization that seeks to overrun. The Spartans realized life without freedom was not worth living. Coincidentally, the leader of the thugs, Xerxes, merely sought one thing in the end .. “worship”. A very timely theme – don’t you think? Didn’t hurt that the thugs were actually Persians (Iranians).

warriorlawyer on March 16, 2007 at 4:56 PM

3) It is a little-known fact that Fred Thompson secretly trained Chuck Norris in the Hidden 14th Shaolin Temple, nestled in the hills of Tennessee. (memealicious)

FACT: The night Chuck Norris filled in for Sean Hannity, Norris requested that his mentor Fred Thompson be allowed an in-studio segment to comment on recent political happenings in Washington DC. Roger Ailes refused only because he feared that if Fred Thompson and Chuck Norris were in the same room, the Fox News Channel World HQ would explode: “because the building is unable to contain that level of awesomeness”

ScottMcC on March 16, 2007 at 5:06 PM

“300″ is pissing muslims off – that’s a positive review in my book.

flagwaver on March 16, 2007 at 5:47 PM

Going to see “300″ expecting a “Saving Private Ryan” experience is like going to Metallica concert and expecting Mozart—the fault isn’t in the performance but the audience.

“300″ is intended to be a film of Frank Miller’s graphic novel. They used the novel for the story board. As a long time Frank Miller fan I went–and received–exactly the experience I was looking for in the movie and loved it. It was what I wanted–a fully animated version of a great Frank Miller book.

The fact that it also pissed off the Iranians was just gravy.

Faith1 on March 16, 2007 at 6:11 PM

As to the CGI, it was used because you can’t get the look of Miller’s novel using real world locations or even color pallets. It was meant to be more surreal. Got this from an interview of the director from some podcast off the G4 channel.

Faith1 on March 16, 2007 at 6:15 PM

2) “Gates of Fire: The Movie” would be awesome, and I’d be one of maybe four or five people who would watch all 22 hours in one sitting. :)

It’d have to be a Shotime/HBO miniseries.

Nonfactor on March 16, 2007 at 6:43 PM

“Go see 300. If you don’t like it, you probably hate America. That, or you’re gay.”

My thought was, if you’re either very straight or very gay, you’ll love it.

“Joey, do you like movies about gladiators?”

I liked Sin City quite a bit: Bruce Willis is The Man. Mickey Rourke is also The Man, as is Clive Owen, as is Rutger Hauer. Ironically, the only not-quite-man in the whole thing was Josh Hartnett, who is listed in the credits simply as, “The Man.”

saint kansas on March 16, 2007 at 6:50 PM

who minds nudity???

Opinionnation on March 16, 2007 at 6:52 PM

Going to see “300″ expecting a “Saving Private Ryan” experience is like going to Metallica concert and expecting Mozart—the fault isn’t in the performance but the audience.

Oh for the love of…

I’m a failure as a movie goer now because I don’t agree 100% with anonymous commenters. Nice.

For the last time, I’d seen the bloody trailers for 300. I watched most of Sout al-Kuffar’s remix of all of the footage available online. I knew what movie I was going to see. I knew it was based on a comic book. It was hard to miss, what with the giant number “300″ on the marquee and all.

So here’s why I brought up a few other movies. I brought up SPR only to point out that this film’s sound design is weak by comparison. Which it is. I brought up Helm’s Deep to point out that this film, while good, doesn’t match the epic scale of LOTR. Which it doesn’t. I brought up AOTC to point out that 300′s overuse of sfx and its overall weak sound put it closer to Clones than I would have liked. Which is my opinion. That’s what you do when you review a film–compare it to other films that might be in the same general ballpark of a genre and see how it stacks up against them. That doesn’t mean that I expected to see those movies when I saw 300. It means that I compared it to them in terms of technique. Sheesh.

Bryan on March 16, 2007 at 7:03 PM

I haven’t seen 300, but my response to your review is that we have a lack of movies/books/culture that just portrays a battle of good vs evil. I think I welcome anything like that. Our culture is stuck on endlessly examing the nuance of why or to what degree an enemy might be evil or just misunderstood.

This is why Lord of the Rings is a bit superior to Star Wars, less emphasis on examining WHY someone wants to enslave you and more resolve on actually stopping them. The Jedi endlessly got caught up on politics and failed meanwhile a band of hobbits with no powers but thier strength of will go to vitory.

Resolute on March 16, 2007 at 7:04 PM

Then again, had Fred Thompson been at the Battle of Thermopylae, the movie “300” would’ve been called “1”

And lasted 30 minutes…

…with 28 1/2 of it in slo-mo…

…and the Persians would’ve lost.

And there wouldn’t be any Iranians giving us crap now, because after defeating X’s army, he’d have walked back to Persia, kicking ass and taking names all the way. Well, maybe he’d have had some scribes along to do the ‘taking names’ part for him. And some pack mules to carry the scrolls with all those names.

The Monster on March 16, 2007 at 7:11 PM

Oh for the love of…

Bryan on March 16, 2007 at 7:03 PM

Bryan,

It sounds like you are having a bad day. I have an idea, why don’t you go out and see a movie and try to relax.

I hear 300 is pretty good………

PinkyBigglesworth on March 16, 2007 at 7:15 PM

Check out Victor Davis Hanson’s favorable review “History and the Movie ’300′” published October 11, 2006 at VDH Private Papers:

http://www.victorhanson.com/articles/hanson101106.html

Phil Byler on March 16, 2007 at 7:57 PM

Er…Bryan?

Rusty was being facetious, unlike St. Andrew. Did you follow the link?

And I posted that to promote Rusty’s review of the movie. He is my boss, after all.

All opinion of art, be it paintings, movies, books, plays, et. al. is not objective, it’s subjective.

Art is in the eye of the beholder. Therefore, neither St. Andrew nor Rusty can be “wrong.” And your review doesn’t make you right. It doesn’t make you wrong, either.

Then again, it’s you versus the box office record books.

You’re not wrong in your opinion, but, follow the money.

BTW, Mac vs. PC?

:-)

Vinnie on March 16, 2007 at 8:33 PM

Mac vs. PC?

Now you’re just tryin’ to start a flame war, buddy!

Bryan on March 16, 2007 at 8:37 PM

The 300 was awesome.

I’m starting to question my conservative politics because.. if hot air is wrong about the 300.. what else could you possibly be wrong about?

Scary. I don’t want to go to dailykos. They’re weird.

triple on March 16, 2007 at 8:42 PM

Mac vs. PC?
Now you’re just tryin’ to start a flame war, buddy!

Bryan on March 16, 2007 at 8:37 PM

“Blasphemous……..This is Madness……”

Go with it Bryan, go with it, I know you want to…….

“THIS IS SPAAAAAAARRRRRRRTTTTTTTTAAAAAAA……….”

PinkyBigglesworth on March 16, 2007 at 9:02 PM

Actually I’m agnostic on Mac vs PC. I’ve used both, don’t love or hate either one.

But I know some other people around here are probably itchin’ for that fight.

Bryan on March 16, 2007 at 9:08 PM

Gotta put this somewhere..

Reaps on March 16, 2007 at 9:12 PM

I’m starting to question my conservative politics because.. if hot air is wrong about the 300.. what else could you possibly be wrong about?

Huh. interesting point. This is starting to worry me as well.

PRCalDude on March 16, 2007 at 9:32 PM

Gentlemen, gentlemen (and ladies)…

There is a word I would like you to remember. The word is “Homeric.” In Homer, the Helenes do not fight in the phalanx, they fight as a series of one on one battles (monomachia). They are supermen, fighting against other supermen. Homer, if I may remind you, was also a POET, an ENTERTAINER, and he knew what made a good story. 300 is in the HOMERIC tradition, an exaggerated story in the vein of Grecian pottery and poetry, extolling the martial virtues and prowess of the Spartans against the evil and depraved Persians. Frankly, I was surprised (and pleasantly so) that they showed ANY phalanx warfare at all! After that, the series of one-on-one fights that seemed to make up the rest of the movie were not only marginally more acceptable, but even excusable. Comparing this movie to historical reality is like comparing Homer to Xenophon or apples to oranges: they fall into the same category, but all similarity ends there.

Bryan, your analysis was spot on in that there was a decided lack of sinew in the story. But sinew is not what this story was about. Instead, Miller and Snyder told a simplified, Homeric (sorry, I like the word and it DOES apply) version of the battle and made it appropriate by revealing the narrator to be giving the pre-battle harangue at Plataea (NOT MARATHON!). As one of the five people who would be willing to sit patiently through all 22 hours of “Gates of Fire: the Movie” (but only if they retitled it “The Persian Wars: the Movie.” I demand both Salamis and Plataea!), I yearn for an accurate representation of hoplite warfare. However, lacking that, I am more than happy with the theater piece that is “300.”

BTW, PC all the way!

Militant Bibliophile on March 16, 2007 at 10:51 PM

It is unfortunate, Bryan, that you have utterly failed to get the point of the movie. There is just no other explanation for your review. The decline of our society’s pride in its heritage was aptly displayed in your statements. This movie displayed everything that we should aspire to in our society. In every motion, in every act, in every word spoken by a Spartan, we see/hear/feel something that is vital to our survival as a people and as a culture. Someday I’ll write a blow-by-blow analysis of the movie and why it is so extraordinarily awesome.

Decoy256 on March 17, 2007 at 1:45 AM

Sounds exactly like how the trailers presented it. Mindless-but-beautiful films have their place… I’ll likely see it.

Mac vs. PC?

Now that Macs run on x86 architecture and can run Windows and OS X side by side, it’s more about your choice of operating system. I was mainly a Windows user through 2004, switched to Ubuntu Linux in early 2005, and then switched to OS X in the fall of 2005. Of course, due to the nature of my work, I use all three systems on a daily basis. They all have their places.

Mark Jaquith on March 17, 2007 at 2:21 AM

This is the first movie since Kill Bill Vol 1 that I have gone to see at the theater twice! I simply cannot wait for th DVD, an UNrated cut!!!

Yakko77 on March 17, 2007 at 2:52 AM

It’s one thing to suggest another POV that someone might consider with ragards to their opinion of a piece of art.

That’s what I was at least TRYING to do.

Some people here are saying that your opinion is WRONG if you don’t agree with them.

Which is STUPID, ESPECIALLY with regards to art.

“I don’t like clams.”
“You’re WRONG dude! You just don’t understand clams!”

Which, of course, is stupid.

Bryan doesn’t like the movie all that much. I’m hip to that groove. One of the great things about this kind of place is we can all share our opinions.

I don’t think Bryan’s opinion is actually debateable, it’s his opinion after all, but we can discuss the merit of the movie all night long.

Oh, and Fred Thompson bends steel bars around his arms and legs to relax before bedtime – because a man like that NEEDS a little exercise to take his mind off work.

Merovign on March 17, 2007 at 3:25 AM

I just CAN’T wait to see the Iranian movie version of the same battle. Let’s see what the “Persians” say to explain the body count. (Hint: a pre-existant America will be to blame.)

Mojave Mark on March 17, 2007 at 12:24 PM

300 is a fun film. I emptied my box of popcorn. But afterward I felt like what I’d seen on screen hadn’t been any more substantial than that snack.

Fair enough – but did you enjoy it? Not yet having seen 300 myself, I’m not sure, judging by your writeup.

SpartRan on March 17, 2007 at 12:25 PM

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