March 21st, 2007

Viking Spongebob

More on 300

I just posted this on the HistoricFilm list at Yahoo. If you're intersted in historic films (from the Stone Age up to the 1950s so far), want to share your opinions or get/give advice on films to see, please join us!

But anyway, on with the review:

As a fan of Frank Miller and the original funny book, all I can say is WOW! It came out on my birthday, so I took in the second showing as my gift to myself. My little sweetie didn't like "Sin City" and probably won't like the stylistic violence of this; my big sweetie liked "Sin City" but is put off by the near-fascist glorification of war in this film. More piopcorn for me...

Need I add that I loved it? It's probably settled into an honored place in my ten favorire films of all time. Contrary to what some others have said--"oh, it's okay but not great"--I have to humbly disagree. Just so you kno where I'm coming from.

Everything was over the top. I heard people snidely noting that Gerard "Beowulf" Butler changed accents throughout the film. He might have. I didn't notice. I was transfixed by the stylistic, over the top cinematic images. Yes, the actors were chewing the scenery, but the stylized way that the film was produced made it seem appropriate. And full of great lines. It was a good old fashioned violent historic epic updated for the ultra-violent aughts. Richard Roeper, in his review of the film, termed it the "Citizen Kane of modern special effects movies." I think that was just about right. I was exhilarated by the audacity of the creators, and mesmerized by the images. The scene of the silhouetted Spartans shoving their foemen off the cliff in slow motion still ranks up there with such shots as the low-angle shot of Kane.

And I've been assured that the six-packs on the Spartans were not enhanced by CGI. Damn!

As far as accuracy...well, I felt guilty liking the film so much when it was so obviously wrong. I've felt a certain antipathy toward "My Darling Clementine" because of Ford's blatant inaccuracies and the freedoms he took with the details. Then I realized the difference. Ford told every interviewer, "This i the way it happened. Exactly. Wyatt Earp told me personally." Miller said, "this is my interpretation of the story, as if I was spinning a tale around the campfire." He took the basic plot--300 men on a suicide mission--and then added incredible color and vitality. No, it's not accurate in many details--but Miller did a lot more research than you might have supposed, sometimes to know where and how to exaggerate--but it captures the spirit of the incident.

It is not pc. It is gloriously anti-PC. Men and women are objectified. Cries for freedom mean a freedom to be fascistic. War is glorified in the current anti-war atmosphere. It's violent. God, is it violent. It has a visceral charm that appeals to--and probably encourages--the bad parts of the little child in me, and makes me thank it. On one level, I am surprised by its success; on another, I'm not.

Glorious pictures. Terrific special effects. Another faithful adaptation of Miller's work. Could it have been better? When I catch my breath, I might be able to tell you. But from its testosterone-rich early scenes to its rousing testosterone-rich end scenes, it was a wild roller coaster that ate up the minutes so that it seemed much shorter than it actually was!

The latest Comic Buyer's Guide arrived yesterday with an extensive look at the film, and paradoxically, there was a special on The history Channel about it last night. You might be able to get a copy of the former at a local comic shop; they'll certainly rerun the latter. If you are interested at all in the film or graphic novel, either or both are recommended.

And now, it's a little shady...but I don't think I'll lie down for a nap...
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