Wednesday, 14 March 2007
300 (2007) dir. Zach Snyder
Starring Gerard Butler, David Wenham, Rodrigo Santoro
As I sat in my seat waiting for my homoerotic blood-porn fix to begin, I glanced around and could not find a single woman in the crowd. If I was ever unsure if I was in the right theatre, my doubts were erased.
To say “300” caters to the modern UFC male would be an understatement. It’s the highly anticipated adaptation of Frank Miller’s graphic novel dramatizing the Battle of Thermopylae (aka UFC 70 ‘Sparta vs. Persia’). The film is equally gargantuan in its blood and carnage as it is in it’s… what’s the word… “godawfulness”. It’s not a word, but fits the bill nonetheless.
When limbs aren’t being severed and bodies being pierced with spears like soft plums, the film is a cringe-inducing unintentional comedy. The story is this, its ancient Greece, Leonidas grows up from his early formative childhood development years learning to fight. As a child he faces a series of monstrous beasts as his rite of passage. In fact, all Spartan children are like this – Note: deformed children are immediately discarded and killed like bruised fruit at the grocery store.
Leonidas grows up to be King of Sparta, as well as its military general. When a plot to invade Sparta by the Persians (modern day Iran) is revealed, Leonidas decides to use his army of only 300 men to take the battle to them. The battle takes place on a narrow corridor of land on the edge of cliff. It’s the best defensive position against the army of thousands.
Attempt after attempt is made to penetrate the 300. The Persian army consists of enslaved men, whom the Spartans resent, because they, themselves, fight as free soldiers – btw: have they forgotten about the thousands of babies their mothers murdered and discarded at birth? Anyways, the evil Persians also have beasts, Rhino’s, hunchbacks and various other creatures to fight with them. The carnage is truly awesome. Limbs are hacked away, juicy digital blood splatters across the screen, eyes gauged out. Eventually Leonidas faces the leader of Persia himself, Xerses – imagine a cross-dressing Iman meets Manute Bol. His feminine facial piercing and sculpted eyebrows contrast Leonidas’s ab cleavage. It’s no doubt who we should root for.
I won’t ruin the ending, though you can always check the history books, but that doesn’t matter, it's all about the action, which truly is inspired. Frank Miller’s frames are gorgeous. Unfortunately the cost is a very tired recycling of virtually every cliché and every line from every sword and sandal epic ever made. The battle cries and speeches are truly awful. The soft flashbacks to yellow wheat fields blowing in the wind and the whiny soundtrack vocals is a carbon copy “Gladiator.” And the post climax speech by David Wenman is a copy of “Braveheart’s” ending. Why? With a $70 million opening weekend, I guess my question is answered, but it is lazy filmmaking. Enjoy?
Here’s a juicy battle scene, with an intro from Snyder and Butler;