Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Film Review: 300

Yup, it was worth the wait.

I'm actually somewhat surprised that the Rottentomatoes rating is as low as it is (62% at last check). Sure, this isn't going to win an Oscar for the script - but what do you want? It's an action movie based on a graphic (figuratively and literally) novel.

I actually waited to write this review because I wanted to pop into the local Indigo book store and see how the movie book compared to the film. Usually the film is a watered-down, Hollywood-ized version of the original source, but that's not the case here: the film is MUCH better than the comic. All the lines in the movie that made me wince, ("would a Spartan king really say that?") were lifted from the comic. Yes, Xerxes is that tall in the book. Yes, Ephialtes is that grotesque.

But what makes the film better is where it was not true to the source material: the exposition is better, the scenery is better, the characters are better, the action is better, the pathos is better, the violence is better.

This movie may not be everyone's cup of tea. Scratch that: this film is most definitely not everyone's cup of tea. But if we're to judge this film on its merits, we have to first accept it for what it is: a bloody comic book-based action film with iconic figures and wall-to-wall gore. If you accept that as its "genre", then I have a hard time believing anyone could give this film a bad review.
The achievements made here in cinematography and visual effects will pave the way for bigger and bolder films to come (The director's next challenge: The Watchmen...holy...). While 300, like the recent Star Wars trilogy, may have been 10% real and 90% green/blue screen, this movie isn't just about filling the screen with droids and starships; this movie - every frame of it - is a piece of art. It's as if every moment was painstakingly hand painted. It's gorgeous.

That's worth the price of admission alone.

Want another reason to like it? Ok, how about the fact that it was shot almost entirely in Montreal? It was shot in a mere 60 days with over a year of post-production. Oh, and ladies: the actors went through 6 weeks of rigorous training before shooting to get those ridiculously buff physiques, worthy of Spartan warriors. As one reviewer put it: "I feel comfortable enough in my (relative lack of) masculinity to say that if I had to stand in the presence of these men for more than ten seconds I'd spontaneously grow a pair of ovaries."

This battle is also credited with spawning the famous "come and get it" retort to an aggressor. It's claimed that when the Persians demanded that the Spartans lay down their weapons in submission to Xerxes, the Spartan king replied, "Come and get them!" ("Molon Labe")

Sure, the movie may not be 100% historically accurate (it's based on the comic, not on the history books, remember) but who cares? The movie made me want to read about the Battle of Thermopylae - and anything that gets me to read has got to be a good thing, right?

(My only complaint? The posters kinda suck - they don't do the film justice. Had they been anywhere near cool, I'd pick one up.)

This is one of those movies that you'll remember for a very long time. The more I think about it, the more I like it.

If you have the stomach, go see this movie.

1 comment:

Michelle said...

Saw it today. Also blinked, seeing a friend of a friend playing the role of the mother in the market scene, waiting with bated breath for the lead character to make some deep pronouncement. Then laughed, putting 2 and 2 together about a scandalous story I've heard. Remind me to tell it to you one day when the phones aren't tapped. You've seen this girl. Thought she was cute. Apparently you're not the only one (did I say that?) G'Night!