300 (2007) ***
Directed by Zack Snyder
Two lines from 300 stood out and may become two of my favorite movie quotes of all time. The first is spoken by Spartan King Leonidas, played by recent Phantom of the Opera star Gerard Butler. He shouts, “Ready your breakfast and eat hearty! For tonight, we dine in hell!” All I’ve got to say is Quaker Oats better gather up their legal and marketing teams so they can buy the rights to use that as their new advertising slogan! The other great line comes from Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey). Gorgo’s a sexy name, don’t you think? Anyway, she addresses the council of
As you can tell, I had a great time watching 300, which is a film adaptation of the gory graphic novel by Frank Miller, who also wrote
Saying that I had a great time watching 300 is a backhanded compliment. Personally, I found the film to be absolutely hilarious, and as such, I didn’t take it seriously at all. While Snyder goes over the top with his direction and the screenplay, which he co-wrote, I don’t believe that 300 is meant to be taken lightly. There are times when this movie does take itself very seriously. Why do I say this? Well, imagine that I went up to Miller, Snyder and
Well, actually, there’s another reason that I think 300 is worth seeing. The stylized, over the top, graphic violence and gore is executed brilliantly, and the images we see on screen are simply beautiful. The battles succeed in pumping adrenaline big time. Further, the progression of violence from somewhat tame to all out brutal helps to keep viewers excitedly anticipating what’s next to come. Not once was I grossed out, and for that fact, I give Miller and Snyder significant credit. I’m simply not enjoying myself when I get queasy, so I’m glad that the filmmakers’ goal wasn’t to nauseate the audience.
Unfortunately, when the Spartans aren’t battling, the film goes completely off the rails into Dullsville. There are a handful of side plots that don’t work at all. One involves Queen Gorgo and a council member that shows animosity and disloyalty to King Leonidas since he took 300 of the best Spartan fighters into battle without the council’s approval. About two-thirds of the way into the film, this tool pretty much forces Gorgo to have painful sex with him. Personally, I like my popcorn action flicks without the inclusion of fetishisms.
Another story line that’s as dead as the Spartans at the end of the film involves a deformed Spartan named Ephialtes (Andrew Tieman) who is not allowed in battle by Leonidas because he can’t stand up straight in order to use his shield to protect his fellow Spartans. Eventually, in a gratuitous orgy seen (see my fetishisms comment above), the ultra-tall Persian god/king Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) convinces Ephialtes to bow down and worship him.
There are also distracting moments of humanity among the soldiers themselves that feel quite out of place considering that these soldiers have been maniacally trained to equate their entire self-worth with fighting and dying for
The foray into the absurd which I witnessed throughout 300 had me smiling and laughing constantly. First of all, I’m not sure if it’s just me, but didn’t the blood look kind of chunky when it splattered across the screen? Perhaps the Spartans can hold off fighting and simply wait for the Persians to die of pulmonary embolisms. Someone get these Asians some blood thinner! Second, it was brilliant of Frank Miller to authenticate Xerxes’ divinity by having him conjure up magical monsters, which collectively look like they came from four or five different films, including Jurassic Park, The Lord of the Rings, 10,000 BC and Pan’s Labyrinth to name a few. I don’t have any vision in my right eye, so when this one super-sized giant has his right eye sliced out, I felt a real bond. Sadly, though, three seconds later, he gets himself beheaded. Oh well, our bond was nice while it lasted.
In case you don’t know, I’m a high school teacher. Many of my students were talking about 300 when it first came out. I’ve got to ask some of them whether or not they found 300 to be as enjoyably hilarious as I did. It baffles me that anyone can take this movie seriously. While Snyder, Miller and