Wednesday, March 14, 2007

So Bobby, Do You Like Gladiator Movies?

“So the Spartans fight in their underwear?” asked Darcy after I showed her the trailer for 300. Earlier in the day I received a free pass to see in on the IMAX, so I figured I’d give her the right of first refusal – a right she accepted – something about watching 300 scantily-clad men slaughter thousands of Persians didn’t do much for her.

On the other hand, I was looking forward to seeing it – the impossible odds and fighting thing, that is – not the men fighting in underwear thing.

There are many reasons to see 300 – it’s a beautiful film, with scenes that look like they were lifted straight from Frank Miller’s graphic novel. Sometimes that doesn’t work too well (HULK SUCK! -errr SMASH!), but Zack Snyder, the director, and Larry Fong, the cinematographer, chose bright color and high contrasts to bring the pages to life.

Gerard Butler did a fine job as Leonidas, the king of the Spartans, pulling off a nice combination of regal authority and almost homicidal bloodlust.

And the fight scenes were spectacular if not a little repetitive. There’s only so many ways that you can show people being hacked to pieces, and this is where the movie started losing me.

On the one side, you have the Spartans and other Greeks, who all look like they came straight from the modeling agency. On the other side, there’s the Persian army, which looks like the casting call specified circus freaks and lepers. Persian soldiers range from eight-foot-tall ogres with blades replacing their hands to an unholy cross between humans and pigs, and don’t get me started on Xerxes, the Persian king. Rodrigo Santoro was apparently channeling Jaye Davidson in Stargate as he played Xerxes. (For those of you who haven't seen Stargate, let's just say that Ra, Davidson's character, was a very bad - and disturbing - "man").

I also had a problem when the Greeks – the Spartans especially – started spouting off about how they were fighting for their freedom. Maybe I’m wrong here, but I seem to recall that the Spartans weren’t exactly known for their open society.

And finally, I realize that movies like this are not historically accurate. I know this. I understand it, and yet it still irks me. If memory serves, Thermopylae was actually fought between a small Greek army and the Persians. The 300 Spartans stayed behind with a few hundred other Greeks when their position became untenable because the Persians found the goat trail, so the Spartans stayed behind to allow the remaining Greek army a chance to escape. I would have preferred they stuck to the idea that the Spartans were sacrificing themselves to save the beleaguered army rather than cries of FREEDOM! LIBERTY! EQUALITY!

But I nitpick. Overall, I enjoyed the movie for what it was – violent eye candy of the check-your-brain-in-at-the-door variety, and I can safely say I didn’t hate myself for having seen it.


1 comment:

Mikala said...

Okay, you know WAY too much about history...I couldn't even tell you who the Spartans are...

Then again, I'm a girl and that may not have intrigued me...I dunno.