Saturday, March 16, 2013

This Month In... 2007: "300"

Almost at on time...

This Should Have Been Post 300

      300 is a film I've heard a lot about from, well, everyone. It seems like I'm one of the last people to have seen it, which is strange seeing as how it's supposed to be one of the best action film of the last decade or so. And come on, which credentials like that what else was I going to pick for (last) week. The Ultimate Gift? Please. Plus, I have seen quite a few of director Zack Snyder's other films like Watchmen and Legends of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole and he hasn't disappointed me before. Well you know what they say. There's a first time for everything. Written by Snyder, Kurt Johnstad (Act of Valor) and Michael Gordon (G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra), 300 follows King of Sparta, King Leonidas (Gerald Bulter, Playing For Keeps) as he leads 300 spartan soldiers, including narrator Dilios (David Wenham, Australia), friend Captain (Vincent Regan, Lockout), Captain's son Astinos (Tom Wisdom, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2) and future star Stelios (Michael Fassbender, Haywire), into battle against the Persian army lead by Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro, The Last Stand). He also contends with leaving his wife, Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey, Game of Thrones), trickster Theron (Dominic West, John Carter) and deformed Ephialtes (Andrew Tiernan, Prisoners Wives). 

Army of Won

      I don't get this movie. I don't get way people like it so much. I don't get why it's supposed to be a great action movie. I didn't hate all of it. That makes things even more confusing. Snyder is still providing some very interesting visuals and the film is never not fun to look at. Maybe it'd look nicer up on the big screen, but on DVD it still looks fine. The actors are all very good here. I've never really liked Gerard Butler, but here he plays Leonidas very well and makes him a character that you'd gladly watch in another film. In fact, most of the army is good. Wenham makes for a strong narrator and the story of what happens to him is surprisingly strong. Of course Fassbender is always doing a good job, even here with a relatively small role. You actually do care about all the characters, both the army and the Queen back at Sparta, quite a bit and would probably be up for more adventures with them. Not that that could happen, obviously. However, I just wished that the movie they were in was a better one.


       Did I miss something? Were other people watching a different action movie while I watched this one? The problem with 300 is that I watched one battle scene and I had literally seen all of them. The film is so repetitive. There are only so many ways you can have an army of 300 battle an army of thousands and this film uses every way at least twice. There's no build-up to it either. After an excruciatingly slow opening following Leonidas as a boy, the Persian threaten Sparta and they go to war. In the span of about 10 minutes. No build-up, no realization that they only have 300 soldiers. The film never really acknowledges the disadvantage the Spartans have or at least not very well. Once the Spartans beat on thousand soldier army, the several other beatings of thousand soldier armies begin to lose their effect. It's a really good thing the battle scenes look nice or else this film would be a total wash.

The Verdict

      I just don't get it. What about this film do other people see that I don't? Yes, Snyder directs it with his usual visual skill and the characters are all very likable and well-acted. But the film is so repetitive. The battle scenes all play out the same way, with little build-up and the Spartans winners makes them seem less like the underdogs they really were. The story largely goes no where and the film takes a long while to get going. And unfortunately where it ends up isn't much better. 300 is really all that bad, but it's not one of the best action movies of the last decade or so. 300 gets 2 and a half stars out of 6. Next time on This Month In..., I see the future. And it's shit. 

Bonus Trivia

- 585 people are killed over the course of this movie. 

- The flowing effect during the Oracle scene in the beginning was created by actually filming the actress underwater.

- The word Sparta or some variation of it is used every .62 times a minute.

- Warner Bros. pushed for a PG-13 rating, however, Snyder refused.

- 300 is Michael Fassbender's film debut.

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