Thursday, March 22, 2007

300 - The movie

An Indulgence in Excess

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Saw the movie 300 yesterday. The western readers of this blog, please forgive me for writing a review about a movie so late after its release. But you see, we here in India get to see only two kinds of Hollywood movies. Either big budget studio movies or those which have received some awards, specifically the Oscars. So as you can imagine we get to see these movies 1 or 2 week after their US release and in some cases it might take even months before it is released here. We usually rely on the DVD to watch good movies. Having said that the scenario has been changing recently and we are getting movie releases almost simultaneously with its US release. But enough of my mumbling and lets cut down to the chase.

Let me first tell you that I love testosterone filled action movies with corny dialogues as much as I love movies made by Kurosawa or Fellini. I believe that each movie should be viewed with a certain amount of expectation and perspective. For example I won’t go and watch a Harry Potter movie with the same mindset as I would watch a Rashomon. But hey that’s just me.

So I went to watch 300 with a lot of expectations and the same thrill I had for a Terminator 2 or a Matrix. I wanted to see if it could outdo Gladiator, which I thought was asking a lot, by the previews did hype up 300 a lot.

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The movie is aesthetically brilliant. A lot of CGI has been used to bring a totally different visual experience unlike any you have seen before. The plot… errr what plot? Does anybody care? For those rare buggers who really want to know here it is. It is based on Frank Miller’s graphic novel adaptation of the Battle of Thermopylae. It talks about treachery, lust for power, honor and glory. It tells how 300 Spartans withstood the might of the invading Persian Empire and held them for 3 days led by their King Leonidas in one of history’s greatest shows of bravery. It tells the story of how he could have held on more if only his own people had not betrayed him.

But enough of the story. The movie is visually appealing though some might find the violence a bit too hard to take. It is certainly not for the weak hearted as the movie is every bit as graphic as the book. The action sequences are well drawn out and have been visualized with a certain degree of style. Style is of the essence here because it is style that makes the movie’s indulgence in excess watchable.

Everything in the movie is over the top and has as much subtlety as a blunt axe to the neck. The Persians are all either blacks, slaves, deformed or monsters. While the Spartans are all white men with bodies that would send the lady folks to seventh heaven and would give 90% of the men on this planet (yours truly included) irreparable complexes about their own masculinity.
The dialogues are no Shakespeare or Wordsworth, but you can’t help loving the over the top adrenalin pumped dialogues. There are many.
Persian: “Our arrows could bolt out the Sun”
Spartan: “Good. We will fight in the shade then”

Leonidas: “Tonight we dine in HELL!!!”

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Lest the lady folks feel left out how about this; when asked by the Persian messenger why a woman is allowed to speak among men, Leonidas’ wife replies, “Because only Spartan woman give birth to real men”.

And what about Leonidas’s yell after he kicks the Persian messenger into a deep well with “This is SPAAARRRTTAAAAA!!!!”

Okay time to get a grip on myself. The acting in this kind of a movie is usually immaterial but I felt all the cast members did a fairly decent job of their jobs especially Gerard Butler as Leonidas and Lean Heady as his Queen Gorgo.

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Story schmory!!! There are big holes in the story but who cares once again.

So how good is the movie? Don’t go to watch the movie expecting a classic. It is not. Don’t go expecting it to have some meaning in all the mayhem. There isn’t many. But go and watch the movie if you like blood, guts and gore. If you like your action movies to be non-stop violence and over the top dialogues. Watch the movie for its style and beautiful cinematography.

As for me personally, the excesses did get to me in the end but I wasn’t bored at all while watching the movie. It’s an entertainer and that’s all that can be said about it. By the way did I mention about the violence? However I was a bit disappointed with the movie, maybe because I expected so much more from it. I still loved Galdiator more and believe it’s in a totally different league from 300. What else did you expect? This is SPAAARRRTTAAAAA!!!!


Reel Fanatic said...

Great review .. I think I liked this one more than you, but we agree that it was an aesthetic marvel and a fairly great action movie .. I've been amazed at the number of critics who have watched this and tried to read so many political undertones into what is, after all, just a comic-book movie

sJ said...

Each movie by its own merrit. I like that attitude.Each movie is the directors version of a story.Or is it the screen play writers? Very few people hold to that idea. But once u see the product in that light u will tend to appreciate movies better. Well , it may not be palatable to all tastes but at least wont be feeling that the money spent on ticket was a waste.

Anonymous said...

you have to say that was one ass kicking movie

commodifiedqueer said...

a most excellent review and what a great blog! i found this blog through a very nice comment posted on my blog by biby.