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The UnPopular Opinion: 300

Jun. 13, 2012by: Alejandro Stepenberg

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THE UNPOPULAR OPINION is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATHED. We're hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Enjoy!

**** SOME SPOILERS ENSUE****

The first time I watched 300, I left the cinema wanting to impale something. I was charged, I was energized, I was swept up in a wash of testosterone and lust and machismo the likes of which I’d never before encountered. It really was a completely visceral and dynamically new experience for me, as different as could be imagined from the classic films I’d grown up watching. It subsequently became the first movie I paid full price to purchase, and I grinned as the cashier took my money.

And then it sat on my shelf, gathering dust for years and years. I never felt much need to revisit that story or experience. I just listened to other people rave about it, generally agreeing, while all the while it sat on my shelf unused. But the more I began to think back on what I’d seen on that day in the cinema, the more I began to suspect that there was a genuine reason I never revisited the movie. And upon another viewing, my suspicions were confirmed. Not only is it a prime example of impressively poor storytelling, but the content of 300 is ugly, broken, and soulless.

Three Hundred UnPop 1

"Unless I miss my guess, we're in for one wild night."

Technically - and I think this is a generally undisputed opinion – Zach Snyder does some really great work on a consistent basis. His eye is very aware of shot composition, and his work bears a relatively clear understanding of the visual language as a whole. In terms of things like framing, the question of what colors compliment each other, camera movement, etc… Snyder can generally be counted on to do some solid and striking work. It’s just in every other respect he falls far short, as clearly evidenced by SUCKER PUNCH and 300, as well as WATCHMEN to a slightly lesser degree.

It’s okay to have simple characters with a simple objective pursuing it through aggressively simple means. DRIVE took such a route and it not only worked, but worked beautifully. But then there are movies like 300 where one dimensional cut-outs masquerading as human beings waltz across the screen in time to a symphony of sword clangs and blood spurts and flesh rips and pounding quasi-intense rock-ish music that does nothing but wash away in a muddy mess. 300 is almost the Grecian War version of SUPERBAD, a story only characterized by the extremity of its fantasy and an increasingly grotesque parade of monstrosities.

Three Hundred UnPop 2

"Give them nothing! But take from them everything!"

There are of course moments which are entertaining even now to me, sequences full of a kind of visual poetry that I cannot help but be swept up by. And there are some good performances here, actors obviously working as hard as they can with the story and Frank Miller’s extremely stylized dialogue to create something engaging and human and relatable. Gerard Butler especially has some brilliant moments, layering heroism and compassion and fury throughout the movie (not to mention how truly haunting his last look is).  Lena Headey turns in some great work as a Queen struggling desperately against a system that prevents her from doing what must be done, and Dominic West is so slimy as to be genuinely uncomfortable to watch.

Yet none of that can make up for something which I find easy to notice and hard to adequately explain, as I am hardly versed in all of the necessary terms and tropes. But I'll try – none of the above make up for the disturbing Orientalism and nigh-on racism present in both the textual and visual storytelling of this movie. When I mentioned earlier “an increasingly grotesque parade of monstrosities,” I didn’t just mean how some of the creatures as depicted in the movie look on the outside. I also meant how even merely the men of Xerxes’ army were depicted on the inside, and what the color choices and camera work revealed about the filmmaker’s opinion of them. Which is to say the aren’t thought of very highly.

Three Hundred UnPop 3

"Imagine what horrible fate awaits my enemies when I would gladly kill any of my own men for victory."
"And I would die for any one of mine."

Yes, technically Xerxes and his army are the villains of this movie. But the more I think about their depiction the more I am reminded of the caricatures of Jews that the Nazis used in their propaganda, the squat big-nosed greedy manipulator that sometimes even came with vampiric teeth. The Persians are depicted, through the monsters they use and even their own attempts to merely swarm and kill the defending Spartans, as the “bloodthirsty savage” of America’s frontier days of yore. 300 sees a pack of pale-skinned defenders of democracy fight with all their might to defend against a flood of savagery out of the East, and it makes me genuinely angry just to type about it.

This is a completely, utterly, and insultingly one-sided experience, so starkly black and white that I can not imagine how anybody can walk away from 300 have a single positive idea of the Persian Empire or the people therein. And there were many truly progressive and great things which the Persian Empire did over the course of history, including being one of the first known civilizations to practice any sort of religious freedom and tolerance. It could be argued that positive things about the actual Persian Empire could exist without the movie showing them, but absence is just as powerful as presence. And what 300 chooses to show is an empire of slavers, mindless drones, and monsters. And this isn’t even going into all the strange little tweaks of history in 300, such as how the Spartans snidely call the Athenians “boy lovers” as a part of insulting their valor and combat capability when in fact the Spartans themselves practiced Pederasty just as much as any other Grecian State.  I know that 300 isn't meant to be a true historical depiction by any means, in part because there is no such thing as "a true historical depiction."  But I nonetheless find it hard to help - the deep demonization of anyone or anything "out of the East" in 300 still troubles me immensely.

Three Hundred UnPop 4

"Immortals... we put their name to the test."

And yet, even if 300 weren't all of these things it would still suffer terribly from storytelling mechanics both misused and overused - the speed-ramping/slow motion most of all.  In the beginning I didn't have much of a problem with it, not nearly as much as most people, but over time I've come to be of the opinion that it actually robs the movie of any lasting dramatic effect this story might have.  By trying to make every moment as cool as can be, Snyder somehow actually manages to strip away any meaning or emotional resonance from those same moments.  When everything becomes special, suddenly nothing is special.  And it makes me angry in a different way than all the other aspects of 300 which make me angry, because any emotional core brought to life by the acting and inherently tragic moments found in the script is then smothered in a series of camera effects and directorial decisions which make it so that meaning and impact is violently ripped away.

I wanted to love 300, and at one point I did.  And I will be ever thankful that it gave work to Michael Fassbender, David Wenham, Gerard Butler, and every other actor involved.  But at the end of the day I cannot stand how it insults my heart and my intelligence, how it tramples upon truth in favor of shamelessly manipulating me towards an opinion of nigh-on Neo-Nazi propaganda (consider the celebration of Spartan Eugenics present from the very first line), or how its storytelling repertoire is as one-note as they come.  I cannot enjoy that, I cannot recommend that, and I cannot ever consciously subject myself to it again.

Three Hundred UnPop 5

"It's an honor to die at your side."
"It's an honor to have lived at yours."

Source: JoBlo.com

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7:10AM on 08/01/2013

hahaha

Oh, Ale, Ale, Ale, Alejandro. The race card, really. To defend why you don't like a movie. Stretching just a bit, aren't we?
Oh, Ale, Ale, Ale, Alejandro. The race card, really. To defend why you don't like a movie. Stretching just a bit, aren't we?
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+4
5:34PM on 06/14/2012
So basically..

Europeans are terrorists, what a crap of a movie Die Hard is!

Latinos as gangsters? Burn the last copy of Desperado!

Black guys are double-crossing political manipulators??! Humanity! Let's start a revolution to erase Predator from film history.

If you want to judge an action film or a war movie, judge it for what it is. If you don't like it within their respective realms, fine.. but don't overstretch it just for the sake of argument.

Again.. as a highly stylized
So basically..

Europeans are terrorists, what a crap of a movie Die Hard is!

Latinos as gangsters? Burn the last copy of Desperado!

Black guys are double-crossing political manipulators??! Humanity! Let's start a revolution to erase Predator from film history.

If you want to judge an action film or a war movie, judge it for what it is. If you don't like it within their respective realms, fine.. but don't overstretch it just for the sake of argument.

Again.. as a highly stylized fantasy war movie, it delivered, and as such, is a one of kind experience.
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4:38PM on 06/14/2012
Its interesting that some of the fanboys are taking potshots at the author, where film scholars and professors would probably pat Alexander Stepenberg for looking at the film beyond what is on the screen.

The points he brought out in his article I've read before in reviews.

I think the fact that he is looking at the film from a racial standpoint is putting off some. And, just because he is giving a differing, albeit well thought out viewpoint, on a film that is allegedly popular, people
Its interesting that some of the fanboys are taking potshots at the author, where film scholars and professors would probably pat Alexander Stepenberg for looking at the film beyond what is on the screen.

The points he brought out in his article I've read before in reviews.

I think the fact that he is looking at the film from a racial standpoint is putting off some. And, just because he is giving a differing, albeit well thought out viewpoint, on a film that is allegedly popular, people don't want to hear those viewpoints no matter how they are presented.

I say: Keeping on doing what you're doing, Alexander. If articles go beyond the film, and give a scholarly viewpoint...that sets articles like this one higher than the usual fanboy rant or "gushing" review.
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6:47PM on 06/14/2012
Well every story has two sides bub. No need to just pick on 300. Nobody complained that the Germans in Saving Private Ryan were portrayed as villains because they emptied their machine guns on the incoming boats. Holy shit talk nice about a German soldier almost 70 years after the war and people will still find that disturbing.

The Nazi comparison is just wrong. The Spartans didn't try to exterminate every Persian, they just didn't want their country invaded.

People read too much in the
Well every story has two sides bub. No need to just pick on 300. Nobody complained that the Germans in Saving Private Ryan were portrayed as villains because they emptied their machine guns on the incoming boats. Holy shit talk nice about a German soldier almost 70 years after the war and people will still find that disturbing.

The Nazi comparison is just wrong. The Spartans didn't try to exterminate every Persian, they just didn't want their country invaded.

People read too much in the story. It's about the most famous last stand in history. It's about a stubborn Greek king who died so he could make a point, about his defiance that inspired rival Greek cities to unite and stand together. It's for entertainment not education.
11:17AM on 06/14/2012

Terrible fall out

I can agree with a lot of the points in this article but the racism is just stupid. The entire story is clearly told from the perspective of that one Spartan soldier as a motivational speech to the new Spartan army because the first Spartan army died at the hands of the Persians. I think it's understandable he's not going to pause to talk about all the GOOD things Persia did. They're the enemy. This argument is grasping at straws in the weakest possible way and the comparison to Nazis and Jews
I can agree with a lot of the points in this article but the racism is just stupid. The entire story is clearly told from the perspective of that one Spartan soldier as a motivational speech to the new Spartan army because the first Spartan army died at the hands of the Persians. I think it's understandable he's not going to pause to talk about all the GOOD things Persia did. They're the enemy. This argument is grasping at straws in the weakest possible way and the comparison to Nazis and Jews is absurd. The Persians WERE attacking Sparta. The Jews didn't decide to wage war against the Nazis. Terrible article. Not because I love the movie - I admit it's flawed for many of the reasons mentioned above - but the the whole thing fell apart the longer it went on.
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-1
10:31AM on 06/14/2012

Shake My head

Man 300 was a great flick an its the first of its kind. How you can diss it just shows your fishing to hard to be different attacking a movie that it is what it is a solid action epic flick. so no i disagree...
Man 300 was a great flick an its the first of its kind. How you can diss it just shows your fishing to hard to be different attacking a movie that it is what it is a solid action epic flick. so no i disagree...
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10:14AM on 06/14/2012

What happened to "The Unpopular Opinion"

300, while in no means a classic or a perfect movie, was among the more entertaining, visually stunning and fun
movies that I (or even this article's author) have had the pleasure of seeing in the theater... and that's what
this movie is supposed to be... This isn't an intellectual masterpiece... This isn't a brilliantly told story that's
unveiled in a complex or surprising way... This is a straightforward action/comic movie... I don't know of any guy
that saw this movie and didn't leave
300, while in no means a classic or a perfect movie, was among the more entertaining, visually stunning and fun
movies that I (or even this article's author) have had the pleasure of seeing in the theater... and that's what
this movie is supposed to be... This isn't an intellectual masterpiece... This isn't a brilliantly told story that's
unveiled in a complex or surprising way... This is a straightforward action/comic movie... I don't know of any guy
that saw this movie and didn't leave the theater walking a little bit taller, almost as if they were hoping someone
would make the mistake of messing with them after getting their masculenity cranked up to 11 by this movie.

Unfortunately, I feel like "the unpopular opinion", which has been one of the more entertaining regularly occurring
articles on JoBlo for some time, has gotten to the point where instead of making an intelligent counter-point to
movies that are widely accepted as brilliant when a very logical argument can be made to the contrary it's become
an almost laughable attempt to do nothing more than ruffle feathers and attack insignificant minutae... If you
accept and embrace 300 for what it is, and what it was meant to be, you will not be disappointed... This was meant
to be a fantastic movie theater experience, and nothing more... It's just one of many movies that are tons of fun
the first time you see them and then they don't live up in subsequent viewings... In 300's case it's probably due
to the fact that none of us have a true big-screen experience at home (I'm jealous of any of you that do) and that
a large part of it's appeal is that none of us truly expected it to be as unique and powerful as it was the first
time we sat through it. That initial shock and awe is something that you just can't get back in subsequent viewings,
and the uniqueness has been dilluted somewhat in the years since the movie came out by other movies that have used
similar look/feel/effects...

I'd love to see "the unpopular opinion" get back to it's roots, and have it dissect blockbusters and movies with cult
followings that are truly bad cinema (there are about 5 Adam Sandler movies and a series of Twilight movies that
are DYING to be exposed as the shit they really are)... Or maybe you could take a few hidden gems/flops and bring
to light that the unpopular opinion that these movies sucked are in fact wrong...

Oh, and as for the supposed nazi-esque propaganda in 300... It's the same as in any comic book good vs evil movie
out there... Like Hydra in Captain America or (SPOILER) the Engineers in Prometheus... It just happens to be based
on Persians as opposed to some make-believe race... It IS propaganda, but it's propaganda against a parody... An
embelleshed representation of the evil that the Spartan heros faced... There's no glory in these 300 men destroying
tens of thousands of decent men... Stop manufacturing hate where it doesn't exist...

Sorry for the long post...
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6:02AM on 06/14/2012
I agree, the racial undertones are there. Especially when considering the Persians were white (although there were some race mixing), but magically became dark skin for this movie. You have the movie Prince Of Persia using white and light skin people to represent Persia but the opposite in the movie 300. But like someone else stated, I chose to ignore it just to enjoy the movie. But at the same time, I haven't watched the movie again since seeing it in the theaters so maybe I was bothered by
I agree, the racial undertones are there. Especially when considering the Persians were white (although there were some race mixing), but magically became dark skin for this movie. You have the movie Prince Of Persia using white and light skin people to represent Persia but the opposite in the movie 300. But like someone else stated, I chose to ignore it just to enjoy the movie. But at the same time, I haven't watched the movie again since seeing it in the theaters so maybe I was bothered by it.

And ironic how people say, "it's just a movie," but at the same time this movie influenced people to believe "every race was enslaved at one point." And anyone getting worked up over his nazi comparison clearly missed the point he was making or you're just overly sensitive to whenever someone brings up the subject matter. ....Or a third option would be you're looking for an excuse to dismiss his entire article.
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+3
2:46AM on 06/14/2012
LOL.... 300.. Neo-Nazi... Talk about reaching man. Come on now.
LOL.... 300.. Neo-Nazi... Talk about reaching man. Come on now.
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+4
12:45AM on 06/14/2012

Please forgive me for the long post...

I saw this film with my best friend (who is half Persian half English, unlike me who is full Persian) on the day it came out. After the show, he asked me what I though of the film and I answered "I liked it!". My Roommate, who is English said " As an Iranian, you didn't find it insulting?" to which I answered "I tried not to focus too much on that and just enjoy it as a cinematically visual feast." At the time, I truly meant it. However, as time went by, my enjoyment of the film waned.
I saw this film with my best friend (who is half Persian half English, unlike me who is full Persian) on the day it came out. After the show, he asked me what I though of the film and I answered "I liked it!". My Roommate, who is English said " As an Iranian, you didn't find it insulting?" to which I answered "I tried not to focus too much on that and just enjoy it as a cinematically visual feast." At the time, I truly meant it. However, as time went by, my enjoyment of the film waned. Depicting important figures of my people's history as slavers and monsters started to bug me a bit. I know the Persians were depicted as villains in the film (heck even in Alexander, even when the armies of Alexander were invading Persia, the Persians were depicted as villains, but at least they were depicted as normal humans and not grotesque monsters).
I held no ill will against Zack Snyder nor the film (he shot a beautiful film that was very true to the comic; something that I had not seen since Sin city) and I am quite looking forward to The Man of Steel. For Frank Miller on the other hand, I lost quite a bit of respect (I loved Batman Year one, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, and the Sin City series. However, Holly Terror revealed to me how Frank Miller views Middle Eastern in general, which made me understand why Frank Miller chose to depict Persians in such a manner). One cannot say that the way Persians were depicted was OK because it was told on the from the point of view of the Spartans and the Persians were the villains. I am sure American audiences would not be so pleased if a British production was made of the American Revolutionary wars with the founding fathers and the American army being depicted as grotesque monsters. And I am sure having their proud history be depicted in such a manner (even for entertainment values).
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11:36PM on 06/13/2012

Agreed...

Trailer had me excited, and the theatrical experience... well, it was ok. I thought it was about 30min too long considering how flat the characters and dialog were. Rewatching was painful. Watchmen suffered because of this man's approach to filmmaking, and Sucker Punch... who cares. People were calling Snyder the next Kubrick, or something like that... wow.
Trailer had me excited, and the theatrical experience... well, it was ok. I thought it was about 30min too long considering how flat the characters and dialog were. Rewatching was painful. Watchmen suffered because of this man's approach to filmmaking, and Sucker Punch... who cares. People were calling Snyder the next Kubrick, or something like that... wow.
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9:08PM on 06/13/2012
So a comic book movie, in which by it's very nature every little aspect is pushed to be larger-than-life, thus villains are monstrous, etc., has to be historically accurate? The rest of your points are fine, even if I disagree with them, but that one nose-dived and blew up in your face. It's not meant to be real, nor encompass everything. It's just meant to be how the people we're seeing everything through views them.
So a comic book movie, in which by it's very nature every little aspect is pushed to be larger-than-life, thus villains are monstrous, etc., has to be historically accurate? The rest of your points are fine, even if I disagree with them, but that one nose-dived and blew up in your face. It's not meant to be real, nor encompass everything. It's just meant to be how the people we're seeing everything through views them.
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+3
7:50PM on 06/13/2012

This movie is epic

And your argument is fucking invalid.
And your argument is fucking invalid.
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+5
7:43PM on 06/13/2012
Wonder what this guy would think of Immortals then. Pfft. 300 is awesome. By no means a perfect movie but just a sight to watch. Not every movie needs to be seen every 6 months. Stop finding ways to pick on enjoyable movies.
Wonder what this guy would think of Immortals then. Pfft. 300 is awesome. By no means a perfect movie but just a sight to watch. Not every movie needs to be seen every 6 months. Stop finding ways to pick on enjoyable movies.
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7:47PM on 06/13/2012
i do agree with you, and your points...

but picking on movies that "most people" enjoy or don't enjoy is kind of the whole point of the column.

just saying..
i do agree with you, and your points...

but picking on movies that "most people" enjoy or don't enjoy is kind of the whole point of the column.

just saying..
+18
7:17PM on 06/13/2012

Show some respect

The fact that you even try to compare the Persians to the Jews shows how sick and wrong your opinion really is. The Persians were advancing their army and instigating war. The Jews (unarmed and including their women and children) were savagely ripped from their homes to be killed and tortured because the Nazis viewed them as inferior beings. This is so far from an accurate comparison - it's sick to even suggest it.
The fact that you even try to compare the Persians to the Jews shows how sick and wrong your opinion really is. The Persians were advancing their army and instigating war. The Jews (unarmed and including their women and children) were savagely ripped from their homes to be killed and tortured because the Nazis viewed them as inferior beings. This is so far from an accurate comparison - it's sick to even suggest it.
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6:58PM on 06/13/2012
I completely agree. When I first saw the trailer for 300 I literally thought it was the most impressive trailer I had ever seen. Then when I sat my ass in the theater to watch.....UGH!!!! Mind numbingly bad dialogue and crappy story telling.
I completely agree. When I first saw the trailer for 300 I literally thought it was the most impressive trailer I had ever seen. Then when I sat my ass in the theater to watch.....UGH!!!! Mind numbingly bad dialogue and crappy story telling.
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6:06PM on 06/13/2012

I hate this column

This guy just finds reasons to hate this movie, and other movies he reviews just for the sake of argument. I don't mind hearing different opinions but these columns are just finding any little thing to tear down the movie they are reviewing.
This guy just finds reasons to hate this movie, and other movies he reviews just for the sake of argument. I don't mind hearing different opinions but these columns are just finding any little thing to tear down the movie they are reviewing.
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5:38PM on 06/13/2012
300 is not a good movie.

If you yell in movie theaters, especially things like "Fuck yeah!" when someone gets brutally killed on-screen; I understand why you disagree and will click on "thumb down" in about 2 seconds.
300 is not a good movie.

If you yell in movie theaters, especially things like "Fuck yeah!" when someone gets brutally killed on-screen; I understand why you disagree and will click on "thumb down" in about 2 seconds.
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5:03PM on 06/13/2012

Taking a Piss...

That's what this column should be called. Taking a Piss... It would be much more appropriate title as that's all these columns seem to be for. It's like they gotta find how to make a good or decent movie bad or tear it apart. And I don't mind people having differing opinions, it's just these seem like they're just trying to find ways to piss on the film. Not all the columns are like this but the majority is just someone taking a piss on the film for the sake of taking a piss...
That's what this column should be called. Taking a Piss... It would be much more appropriate title as that's all these columns seem to be for. It's like they gotta find how to make a good or decent movie bad or tear it apart. And I don't mind people having differing opinions, it's just these seem like they're just trying to find ways to piss on the film. Not all the columns are like this but the majority is just someone taking a piss on the film for the sake of taking a piss...
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7:51PM on 06/13/2012
You gotta give Alejandro some credit here, he goes against the grain all the time with this column. The point is to get all of us talking, and basically looking at certain popular films in a different light.

the kids got thick skin, and we should all realize the column is designed to stir the pot! :)
You gotta give Alejandro some credit here, he goes against the grain all the time with this column. The point is to get all of us talking, and basically looking at certain popular films in a different light.

the kids got thick skin, and we should all realize the column is designed to stir the pot! :)
3:28PM on 06/13/2012
Fun the first time. Still overrated in my book. There's a LOT of featureless brownish-orange background going on there. And SO much meat-head dialogue . . .
Fun the first time. Still overrated in my book. There's a LOT of featureless brownish-orange background going on there. And SO much meat-head dialogue . . .
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1:58PM on 06/13/2012
QUOTE; Not only is it a prime example of impressively poor storytelling, but the content of 300 is ugly, broken, and soulless.

I thought this after the first viewing.
QUOTE; Not only is it a prime example of impressively poor storytelling, but the content of 300 is ugly, broken, and soulless.

I thought this after the first viewing.
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1:10PM on 06/13/2012
Dude we cant change all history to conform to your politically correct viewpoints. Yes, they all could have sat down and discussed their feelings or held hands at a green peice fundraiser. All history is not bunnies that fart rainbows that smell like cookies.
Dude we cant change all history to conform to your politically correct viewpoints. Yes, they all could have sat down and discussed their feelings or held hands at a green peice fundraiser. All history is not bunnies that fart rainbows that smell like cookies.
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-14
12:26PM on 06/13/2012
The unpopular opinion is that people disliked 300? Since when? I've never met anyone who had anything positive to say about it...
The unpopular opinion is that people disliked 300? Since when? I've never met anyone who had anything positive to say about it...
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12:20PM on 06/13/2012

Well done

I had almost the exact same experience as you did - minus buying the DVD. I watched the flick, grinned at the "This is SPARTA!" line, smirked at the comment about "Athenian boy-lovers" (yeah, I know my history too) and got caught up in the tidal wave of testosterone.

A few years later, I watched 300 again at a friend's place as part of a Guy's Movie Night and thought, "I liked this piece of shit?"

Bigotry and eugenics issues aside, 300 simply doesn't stand up to repeat viewings as a
I had almost the exact same experience as you did - minus buying the DVD. I watched the flick, grinned at the "This is SPARTA!" line, smirked at the comment about "Athenian boy-lovers" (yeah, I know my history too) and got caught up in the tidal wave of testosterone.

A few years later, I watched 300 again at a friend's place as part of a Guy's Movie Night and thought, "I liked this piece of shit?"

Bigotry and eugenics issues aside, 300 simply doesn't stand up to repeat viewings as a movie.
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11:11AM on 06/13/2012
Yeah I still love 300. I'm not going to get into the fact that the point of view is SUPPOSED to be biased, since others have already done it. I also think in the heavy Zack Snyder backlash since this film came out, it's made it much more popular to discount and overanalyze this film. Yes, Snyder uses too much slow-mo and he's a very 'style over substance' director, but those very things were perfect for this type of brutal, stylized war epic. It's funny to me that movies like 300 get sort of
Yeah I still love 300. I'm not going to get into the fact that the point of view is SUPPOSED to be biased, since others have already done it. I also think in the heavy Zack Snyder backlash since this film came out, it's made it much more popular to discount and overanalyze this film. Yes, Snyder uses too much slow-mo and he's a very 'style over substance' director, but those very things were perfect for this type of brutal, stylized war epic. It's funny to me that movies like 300 get sort of torn down for being too action reliant and plotless, while movies like The Raid: Redemption get glorified for basically being the same thing.
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12:12PM on 06/13/2012
I agree with you about the purpose of the style, and, for what it was, it mostly worked. But there comes a time where I begin to wonder if battle scenes are all this movie has to offer (yes, it is). The style is nothing to shake a stick at. But for me, a style-over-substance movie is only good when I want to come back and watch it again. I love that first battle sequence, all the way up to the "fighting in the shade" part. Then it just starts overstaying it a bit. And there's a preachy aspect
I agree with you about the purpose of the style, and, for what it was, it mostly worked. But there comes a time where I begin to wonder if battle scenes are all this movie has to offer (yes, it is). The style is nothing to shake a stick at. But for me, a style-over-substance movie is only good when I want to come back and watch it again. I love that first battle sequence, all the way up to the "fighting in the shade" part. Then it just starts overstaying it a bit. And there's a preachy aspect to it that most action movies sidestep, like an out-dated John Wayne movie.
+21
11:01AM on 06/13/2012
300 was and still is a great movie because it knows exactly what it is, as should everyone who watches it. Playing the race card in your rant is as pointless as it is mindlessly ridiculous considering the time period and context of the film. The action, though clearly overboard and shot extra glossy, is still fantastic no matter which way you slice it and that's what people paid to see. Bottom line, this is an action flick and shouldn't be taken seriously on any other level.
300 was and still is a great movie because it knows exactly what it is, as should everyone who watches it. Playing the race card in your rant is as pointless as it is mindlessly ridiculous considering the time period and context of the film. The action, though clearly overboard and shot extra glossy, is still fantastic no matter which way you slice it and that's what people paid to see. Bottom line, this is an action flick and shouldn't be taken seriously on any other level.
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+21
10:56AM on 06/13/2012
The whole point to this has been missed IMO. Like Fitzhume have said is a story told by Dillios. Of course it will be one-sided, fantasized and enlarged.. but compare it to Nazism and Jews? Come on! That's going overboard, is almost as saying that Calvin and Hobbes are not trustworthy because they don't reflect the teachings of the bible.

Is a highly stylized, fantasized war movie. Period. Turn your brain off, grab a beer and enjoy the killing.

BTW Is clear you loved Drive, but that
The whole point to this has been missed IMO. Like Fitzhume have said is a story told by Dillios. Of course it will be one-sided, fantasized and enlarged.. but compare it to Nazism and Jews? Come on! That's going overboard, is almost as saying that Calvin and Hobbes are not trustworthy because they don't reflect the teachings of the bible.

Is a highly stylized, fantasized war movie. Period. Turn your brain off, grab a beer and enjoy the killing.

BTW Is clear you loved Drive, but that doesn't mean EVERY movie needs to be compared to it.

If you think about it, truly, as for "war movies" goes, there is simply nothing quite like 300. Sure, you have Black Hawk Down, Apocalypse Now as many others. On the fantasy size, well, you have LOTR, but in the mix, is truly a one of a kind.
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+8
10:56AM on 06/13/2012

Movie definitely has some problems...

I am not sure if I buy into the racism aspect. I think the movie is pretty amoral and asks the audience to buy into a pretty barbaric culture in the Spartans and see things from their perspective. I think this was very influenced by Sin City and really tries to stay true to the look and feel of Miller's graphic novel. So I think Snyder accomplished what he wanted. Like you, I enjoyed it in the theater and then my opinion kind of downgraded as I went. It bypasses the brain and amps up most
I am not sure if I buy into the racism aspect. I think the movie is pretty amoral and asks the audience to buy into a pretty barbaric culture in the Spartans and see things from their perspective. I think this was very influenced by Sin City and really tries to stay true to the look and feel of Miller's graphic novel. So I think Snyder accomplished what he wanted. Like you, I enjoyed it in the theater and then my opinion kind of downgraded as I went. It bypasses the brain and amps up most of us adventure craving dudes. But the true story of Thermopylae is so fascinating on its own, I would really prefer a more straight forward approach like TROY or Braveheart.
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+17
10:27AM on 06/13/2012
I must be missing something here, in regards to racism.
Now besides the fact that this movie is being told by Dilios, like so many have stated below. Im not sure how you want the Spartans to paint a picture of the Persian's? The Persian's are coming to slaughter them, you want the Spartan's to say hey, i know they are coming to rule our country (rape our women, enslave our children) but hey, they're a good group of people, here is a list of their contributions?
That being said, Racism was
I must be missing something here, in regards to racism.
Now besides the fact that this movie is being told by Dilios, like so many have stated below. Im not sure how you want the Spartans to paint a picture of the Persian's? The Persian's are coming to slaughter them, you want the Spartan's to say hey, i know they are coming to rule our country (rape our women, enslave our children) but hey, they're a good group of people, here is a list of their contributions?
That being said, Racism was apparent back then, countries loathed each other, for lessor reasons then kids have fights in school yards. The world powers back then (Persian's, Greek's, Roman's) Raped, and Pillaged each and every country they over took (all of whom had great contributions to the world).
Also, Greece was not unified back then, and waged war against one another often for superiority (hence the reference to being boy lovers).
So during a tale of a great a battle (historically accurate or not) i do not see how racism can be taken to heart?
In this mode of story telling like it or not, the Spartans did not like the Persians, so they will be depicted as monsters on the outside for their intensions that come from within. Especially in the words of a Spartan (Dilios), who's commanding his army to die for their country.

When someone makes a film about the Persians, and their conquest, let them paint their enemies as monsters.

Aside from that, i agree with your article. My 300 has also sat and accumulated dust on the shelf. There is a lot of substance that is lacking, and because of this article I'm going to give it a good watch tonight, with a more critical view.
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9:59AM on 06/13/2012
I'm going to say you just don't get it Alejandro. The thing that bothers you most is simple story telling. A protagonist and antagonist are portrayed differently in conflict, and they are propagandized. Now to relate the story telling here and depiction of the invading Persian armies in a Godwin-ized context is asinine. Really? Nazis and Jews? This bothers you? The battle of Thermopylae is being stylishly re-told and the invading horses are depicted as monsters precisely to frame the
I'm going to say you just don't get it Alejandro. The thing that bothers you most is simple story telling. A protagonist and antagonist are portrayed differently in conflict, and they are propagandized. Now to relate the story telling here and depiction of the invading Persian armies in a Godwin-ized context is asinine. Really? Nazis and Jews? This bothers you? The battle of Thermopylae is being stylishly re-told and the invading horses are depicted as monsters precisely to frame the heroic action of 300 Spartans in an amazing way. Of COURSE it is one-sided. The entire story is based upon a real and actual battle and Miller and Snyder choose sides, a protagonist, the brave 300 and antagonist, the invading Persian hordes of Xerxes who were not saints, they were monstrous. This was NOT a film about the Persian empire. It was the story of when they tried to invade Greece and got bitch slapped by 300 valiant soldiers at the Hot Gates. If you wanted a fair story of the Persian Empire and the many nations it sacked, you would fare better to see a documentary, but it would be FAR less entertaining. When writing or telling a story you choose a point of view and a protagonist and make them like-able and the antagonist unlike-able. Story telling 101. It got your blood PUMPING on the first viewing because THAT works. You're not supposed to THINK about it, you're supposed to feel.
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10:14AM on 06/13/2012
Fair enough, but I personally believe that one should be able to do both. Neither thinking nor feeling should be abandoned in favor of the other, and the best of stories access both. I understand that a storyteller must take a certain perspective when sharing their tale, but the folks behind 300 didn't just take a side. They took a side, then elevated that side to the highest, then plated it in gold, then pointed spotlights at it, and then bowed down to it repeatedly. It's okay to be biased
Fair enough, but I personally believe that one should be able to do both. Neither thinking nor feeling should be abandoned in favor of the other, and the best of stories access both. I understand that a storyteller must take a certain perspective when sharing their tale, but the folks behind 300 didn't just take a side. They took a side, then elevated that side to the highest, then plated it in gold, then pointed spotlights at it, and then bowed down to it repeatedly. It's okay to be biased in storytelling - indeed, every story is biased in favor of one perspective or another. But where I take personal issue is both the extremity of that bias and the sheer amount of effort spent to completely demonize and dehumanize the side the storytellers disagreed with. But at the end of the day it's a matter of personal opinion, and when I see a villain on screen my preference lies with a more complex hero/villain conflict along the lines of THE DARK KNIGHT. Then again, another movie I love is THE PRINCESS BRIDE, and in that movie the villains are both simple and pretty damn nasty. But the storytellers behind that film didn't feel the need to give them fangs or cracked fingernails or humps covered in bursting boils or anything else. Not even a mustache to twirl while laughing evilly. They let the acting do its own work, and let the villains be villains without dragging them down to an inhuman place of stereotype and purposeful ugliness so as to highlight their evil.
9:39AM on 06/13/2012
I agree almost entirely with your article. I'm less put-off by the eugenics part, but as a whole it definitely has diminishing returns, and is WAY over-stylized, as after the first battle they all kind of run together. And the racism is also pretty offensive. I think, though, that it is likely a favorite amongst military people. It just has that gung ho thing going for it that tends to put me off. Still, the homoeroticism is pretty funny.
I agree almost entirely with your article. I'm less put-off by the eugenics part, but as a whole it definitely has diminishing returns, and is WAY over-stylized, as after the first battle they all kind of run together. And the racism is also pretty offensive. I think, though, that it is likely a favorite amongst military people. It just has that gung ho thing going for it that tends to put me off. Still, the homoeroticism is pretty funny.
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+21
8:47AM on 06/13/2012
I think you missed an important point here. The story is being told by Dilios, a Spartan soldier. He is an unreliable narrator. His exaggerated polarity is an insight into the mind of Sparta. There is no room for doubt.
I think you missed an important point here. The story is being told by Dilios, a Spartan soldier. He is an unreliable narrator. His exaggerated polarity is an insight into the mind of Sparta. There is no room for doubt.
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8:45AM on 06/13/2012
300 is a spectacle - brash and exciting - but doesn't stand up to much analysis, and yes it's odd to see a race/culture demonised to that extent in a modern movie, but in many ways it's kind of the vibe of the story - it's told from the Spartan psyche rather than from any degree of fairness or accuracy. Again it's kind of an obnoxious film, but then it's probably supposed to be - it portrays a certain mentality/state of mind.
I do feel it got a lot of love when it was released, but hasn't aged
300 is a spectacle - brash and exciting - but doesn't stand up to much analysis, and yes it's odd to see a race/culture demonised to that extent in a modern movie, but in many ways it's kind of the vibe of the story - it's told from the Spartan psyche rather than from any degree of fairness or accuracy. Again it's kind of an obnoxious film, but then it's probably supposed to be - it portrays a certain mentality/state of mind.
I do feel it got a lot of love when it was released, but hasn't aged well, but what bugged me most about it then still bugs me now and that's the poor use of fake digital grain. The image constantly fizzes with applied 'film grain' when you look at it and I just can't stand it. I'm fine with digital filmmaking, but 300 has a fizzy layer of fugly applied over everything in a misguided attempt to make it look more 'authentic'. This annoys me more than the film's other flaws.
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8:04AM on 06/13/2012
I love every second of 300.
I love every second of 300.
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7:35AM on 06/13/2012

It's cool to look at, painful to think about.

I graduated in 2007, and the number of Senior quotes from 300 was STAGGERING. Granted mine was from Army of Darkness, but still...
I graduated in 2007, and the number of Senior quotes from 300 was STAGGERING. Granted mine was from Army of Darkness, but still...
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+1
7:01AM on 06/13/2012

Agreed

The first time you watch this you cannot help but get drawn into the spectacle of it. Even seeing photos from it nearly every frame is composed brilliantly but that is all there is. I have never watched it again either.

I have to say that even suggesting this film is trying to be historically accurate is paying it too much respect. You may want to stay clear of Abraham Lincoln:Vampire Hunter.
The first time you watch this you cannot help but get drawn into the spectacle of it. Even seeing photos from it nearly every frame is composed brilliantly but that is all there is. I have never watched it again either.

I have to say that even suggesting this film is trying to be historically accurate is paying it too much respect. You may want to stay clear of Abraham Lincoln:Vampire Hunter.
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6:51AM on 06/13/2012
Uh, this movie was ground breaking and redefined the word badass. When were you born? 1940s? You sound like an old hen.
Uh, this movie was ground breaking and redefined the word badass. When were you born? 1940s? You sound like an old hen.
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+17
5:51AM on 06/13/2012
Great article, but the fact remains that '300' is a visual extravaganza with a simplistic storyline to serve as its backbone. It's a group of Spartans fighting for freedom against the ruthless Persian empire. The story is told from the standpoint of a Spartan, so obviously the enemies are going to look evil and nasty and downright monstrous. Yes, there is racism and stereotyping, but not every war movie can be "Flags Of Our Fathers" and have "Letters From Iwo Jima" as its counterpart. Maybe the
Great article, but the fact remains that '300' is a visual extravaganza with a simplistic storyline to serve as its backbone. It's a group of Spartans fighting for freedom against the ruthless Persian empire. The story is told from the standpoint of a Spartan, so obviously the enemies are going to look evil and nasty and downright monstrous. Yes, there is racism and stereotyping, but not every war movie can be "Flags Of Our Fathers" and have "Letters From Iwo Jima" as its counterpart. Maybe the '300' prequel will serve as the balancing factor, but until then 300 will be a war story told from the standpoint of the heroic Spartans who valiantly battled the hoards of their "ugly, merciless invaders". It's a male-driven movie made to supercharge every male cell in your body that craves violence, gore, sex, and healthy doses of facial hair, and that's about it. Sorry for being a "simpleton", but that's how this movie is to be enjoyed.
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5:46AM on 06/13/2012
It's a fantasy, not an historically accurate portrayal of an event in history, i thought the fantastical creatures and 10 foot men would have made that apparent .

Anybody looking for something akin to a History Channel documentary should look elsewhere .

This is supposed to be a one dimensional guy fest of wondrous images, not a deep and probing expose on the politics of the Persians and Greeks .

Not revisionist history, Machoisimist history is more like it.

Pop it in after you get
It's a fantasy, not an historically accurate portrayal of an event in history, i thought the fantastical creatures and 10 foot men would have made that apparent .

Anybody looking for something akin to a History Channel documentary should look elsewhere .

This is supposed to be a one dimensional guy fest of wondrous images, not a deep and probing expose on the politics of the Persians and Greeks .

Not revisionist history, Machoisimist history is more like it.

Pop it in after you get emasculated by your wife or girlfriend and feel the manhood be sprouted anew, works for me .

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5:35AM on 06/13/2012
*clap* *clap* *clap*

I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one who is not endlessly impressed by this movie. Just like you, the first time it was fun, but after that... "Eh, it was okay." Then, "I...liked looking at it?" Then ultimately, "It looked cool...that's about it." It was just TOO stylish, and too grotesquely testosterone-and-"raaagh, let's get 'em!" for my moviegoing tastes.

Granted, it's ten times more entertaining than TROY - which was a f***ing abomination and should be
*clap* *clap* *clap*

I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one who is not endlessly impressed by this movie. Just like you, the first time it was fun, but after that... "Eh, it was okay." Then, "I...liked looking at it?" Then ultimately, "It looked cool...that's about it." It was just TOO stylish, and too grotesquely testosterone-and-"raaagh, let's get 'em!" for my moviegoing tastes.

Granted, it's ten times more entertaining than TROY - which was a f***ing abomination and should be expunged from the human record - but that's not saying much.

It also doesn't help the ages-old tradition of "all ancient civilizations must use British accents" factor that has plagued Hollywood since the talkies began.

Thank you for this GREAT UnPopular Opinion!
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3:56AM on 06/13/2012
Thank you so much for this. Finally an Unpopular Opinion I could get behind. I hated this movie but even more I hated all the hype and praise it got.
Thank you so much for this. Finally an Unpopular Opinion I could get behind. I hated this movie but even more I hated all the hype and praise it got.
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3:15AM on 06/13/2012

Well-written review...

And I agree.

Cool action scenes, but nothing much in terms of story.
And I agree.

Cool action scenes, but nothing much in terms of story.
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2:46AM on 06/13/2012

Huzzah for eloquence

That was by far the best written UnPopular Opinion I've ever read. It was eloquently written, great grammar and syntax. Bravo sir.
That was by far the best written UnPopular Opinion I've ever read. It was eloquently written, great grammar and syntax. Bravo sir.
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9:52AM on 06/13/2012
Hey, thanks very much! You're very kind.
Hey, thanks very much! You're very kind.
2:40AM on 06/13/2012

was excited for 300

and I remember seeing it at Mann's Chinese Theater...I thought visually the film was great but I definitely did not feel the need to see it again.
and I remember seeing it at Mann's Chinese Theater...I thought visually the film was great but I definitely did not feel the need to see it again.
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2:34AM on 06/13/2012
Also, no 300, no Fassbender. He'd probably still be working in British television
Also, no 300, no Fassbender. He'd probably still be working in British television
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2:28AM on 06/13/2012

I think you're putting too much thought into it......

And I find Snyder annoying because he uses slow motion waaaaaay too much, but it worked in this film. It did because look at how the film was visually. It looked like a videogame in a way, so it fit perfectly.
And I find Snyder annoying because he uses slow motion waaaaaay too much, but it worked in this film. It did because look at how the film was visually. It looked like a videogame in a way, so it fit perfectly.
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2:27AM on 06/13/2012
The story is being told from the point of view of Dilios, a Spartan soldier. Ever notice how he was narrating throughout the movie? He's telling this story to legions of Greek soldiers about to due battle with the Persians to pump them the fuck up. OF COURSE he's going to paint the Persians in a bad light and make them out to be incestuous bestiality-loving monsters. He's trying to make them hate these people, enough that they want to slaughter them. I actually really appreciated this aspect of
The story is being told from the point of view of Dilios, a Spartan soldier. Ever notice how he was narrating throughout the movie? He's telling this story to legions of Greek soldiers about to due battle with the Persians to pump them the fuck up. OF COURSE he's going to paint the Persians in a bad light and make them out to be incestuous bestiality-loving monsters. He's trying to make them hate these people, enough that they want to slaughter them. I actually really appreciated this aspect of the film. It made it feel more genuine as in the old saying, the victors write the history. I didn't think that was so hard to understand.
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6:16AM on 06/13/2012
This is a perfect explanation of why the Persians look the way they do. I was thinking the same thing while reading this article.
This is a perfect explanation of why the Persians look the way they do. I was thinking the same thing while reading this article.
1:34AM on 06/13/2012

Spartan Eugenics

Also...thats deliberate Alejandro. The movie shows Sparta to be a nakedly brutal, fascist culture from the first scene...and then shows you these characters crying freedom at every turn. Its deliberate irony.

News flash: Every dictator, terrorist, and mass-murdering moron in history claimed he was fighting for freedom. And since the movie is told from the point of view of said fascists...it plays out as a propaganda tale.

What causes you to tear the movie down is, in my opinion, what
Also...thats deliberate Alejandro. The movie shows Sparta to be a nakedly brutal, fascist culture from the first scene...and then shows you these characters crying freedom at every turn. Its deliberate irony.

News flash: Every dictator, terrorist, and mass-murdering moron in history claimed he was fighting for freedom. And since the movie is told from the point of view of said fascists...it plays out as a propaganda tale.

What causes you to tear the movie down is, in my opinion, what makes the movie smart and unique at least in that narrow respect. Though admittedly other movies like American History X did it a lot better by bringing the movie full circle, rendering it idiot-proof from Goebbels-wannabes.

The movie also touches pretty obviously on the pederasty angle. What do you really think was the subtext amidst all that banter between Fassbender and the soon-to-be-headless new guy as they fought as a pair? Top Gun was less homoerotic.
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1:31AM on 06/13/2012

Eh?

I definitely agree with you on this one. And I too went out and bought this as soon as it came out on DVD, buoyed by seeing it once in the theater and on the raves of my friends. Upon second viewing I found it hollow and sort of chore to sit through.

Your argument about the portrayal of the Persians is interesting, but something that doesn't really bother me all that much. I mean, it's Frank Miller. What did you expect?
I definitely agree with you on this one. And I too went out and bought this as soon as it came out on DVD, buoyed by seeing it once in the theater and on the raves of my friends. Upon second viewing I found it hollow and sort of chore to sit through.

Your argument about the portrayal of the Persians is interesting, but something that doesn't really bother me all that much. I mean, it's Frank Miller. What did you expect?
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1:28AM on 06/13/2012
I'm not quite as brutal (and ditto on the paying full price...gathering dust) but yeah, the movie doesn't hold up to repeat viewings.

Still though, the first viewing remains one of my fondest movie-going experiences.
I'm not quite as brutal (and ditto on the paying full price...gathering dust) but yeah, the movie doesn't hold up to repeat viewings.

Still though, the first viewing remains one of my fondest movie-going experiences.
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+19
1:21AM on 06/13/2012
Sort of like your article on The Boondock Saints... I agree with a lot of what you say, but not the conclusion you draw. At the end of the day, I still really love 300.

Oh, one thing I do disagree about is the slow motion. I love slow-mo and always will. Dunno, something about it just looks awesome to me. Plus, at least it enables me to actually see the action, unlike the fast editing that's so popular nowadays.
Sort of like your article on The Boondock Saints... I agree with a lot of what you say, but not the conclusion you draw. At the end of the day, I still really love 300.

Oh, one thing I do disagree about is the slow motion. I love slow-mo and always will. Dunno, something about it just looks awesome to me. Plus, at least it enables me to actually see the action, unlike the fast editing that's so popular nowadays.
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