300 (2007)
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Review Date: February 04, 2008
Director: Zack Snyder
Writer: Zack Snyder, Kurt Johnstad, Michael Gordon
Producers: Jeffrey Silver, Bernie Goldmann, Mark Canton
Gerard Butler as Leonidas
Lena Headley as Queen Gorgo
Dominic West as Theron
Loosely based on real life events from around 480 B.C. (or better yet, a Frank Miller graphic novel of the same name), this film focuses on the battle that 300 Spartans took upon themselves, when the Persian army came a-knocking at their front door. Unlike many others around them, the Spartans didn’t believe in surrendering or working out some kind of “deal”, and preferred to die in honor, rather than live and kneel. Tons of people getting stabbed by long spears ensues…as does a bunch of blood!
Machismo, thy name is Sparta!! You gotta love any movie that features 300 sweaty, buffed up guys bloodying it up, without it being a gay porno, right? Alright, alright…not that there’s anything wrong with gay pornos. Oh God, this review is not starting off on the right foot. Harumph, okay…so what did I think of 300, seeing it close to a year after its initial theatrical release? Well, I definitely liked it overall, but being as I’m not a major “sword and sandal” movie fan, the film didn’t blow me out of the water, although its visuals were certainly some of the cooler bits that I’ve seen on the big screen this past year (other than Marisa Tomei getting butt-slammed in BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU’RE DEAD, of course). Along with the spectacular visuals comes the directing by Zack Snyder, who utilized everything in his arsenal to “surreal” it all up, including slow-mo and fast-motion shots used up like Paris Hilton after a weekend in Vegas. I also really liked the lead character in the film, played remarkably by Gerard Butler, with his “no back down” attitude, his undeniable strength, character and honor, and of course…his fuckin’ sweet 6-pack (actually more like an 8-pack, but who’s counting). I also want to build a hut in the man’s beard and live there for a few months over the summertime, but that’s neither here nor there. Might put some needed hair on my bland chest. He might’ve over-enunciated a few of his rantings (THIS…IS…SPARTA!!), but overall, his aggressive demeanor was a blast to watch.

Further kudos go out to the CGI effects throughout the film, which unlike other big effect-driven movies from the past year, actually meshed seamlessly with the story and aesthetics of the picture, most of which was actually shot on soundstages with green-screens all around. Consider the amazing scenes featuring boats being tossed around the rough waters, the stunning surroundings and skies, the awesome deformed and giant characters, all taking off where Gollum started out in the LOTR flicks, and moving up to the next level. I also really liked all of those lovely “blood splats” throughout the fighting, and as per the LOTR flicks, the awesome battle sequences…many of which were stunning to behold. On the downside, those very same battle sequences did start to get a little redundant after a while; I mean how many shots of a Spartan drilling his sword/spear into an opponent with blood gushing out the other side can a man see before rolling his eyes already? I wish there had been a more developed storyline as well, rather than the massive focus on the fights, which despite looking great, as mentioned earlier, really didn’t invest me much more into the story. At times, it was like watching the transitions or introduction to a videogame, which I’m not saying to denigrate the film – because I actually don’t have an issue with certain types of movies “looking” like this, since not all movies can be KRAMER VS KRAMER (wow, there’s an old reference for you, kids) – but that doesn’t mean that I’m going to feel closer to the characters when many of them are obviously not real.

Also, despite the surprise integration of a female into this storyline (and a strong woman at that, nice!), I didn’t think many of the rest of the characters in the film were developed to any great extent, and some literally screamed their fate when introduced, including the “young son” of a father who isn’t sure if his boy should join him in the fight (guess what happens to him) and a deformed Spartan who is turned down for a role in the squad because he’s not perfect like the rest of them buffed men (guess what he does later on). All in all though, the film entertained me through most of its runtime (love the scene in which Butler is nonchalantly chewing on an apple, while his cohorts are spearing the life out of the enemies around him), arrested my attention with its spectacular visuals and even though its fight sequences and plotline felt a tad deja-vu at times (would you believe that the film includes yet another sequence of the group leader “inspiring” the troops with yet another speech about “freedom”…sigh), the film definitely did breathe new life into the genre, and brought to the fore yet another creative way to produce motion pictures in this day and age. And in that regard, anything that doesn’t require remaking, reshaping, rehashing, remashing old TV shows or past feature films…is okay in my book. A-oo! A-oo! A-oo…this is Sparta, bitch! Oh, I also loved that final shot of Butler in the battle-field. Classic shit. This is the kind of movie that I might not watch again, but I would definitely play it in the background at a party or something, without any sound…and on weed.
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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