Thursday, March 8, 2007

A lot of my friends are seeing the midnight showing of 300 tonight, but luckily I was able to use my press pass once again and see it Tuesday evening.

The advanced screening was shown on an IMAX screen, which made the film even more impressive. However, the auditorium was also filled with loud UCLA football players who were there in a viral effort to promote the film among college kids, but they fortunately were stunned into silence as the film started.

Maybe it was the vague commercials or the film's bloody logo, but I wasn’t expecting to like 300, yet I was happy to discover that I did.

From the creators of Sin City, 300 is also based on a graphic novel and filmed in the same animated style. And like a novel, 300 has a narrator throughout the film and lives up to the graphic part, both sexually and violently. However, that’s what 300 is about—blood, honor and going against-all-odds.

The film’s title refers to the Spartan’s seemingly bad odds, given that their army is comprised of 300 warriors compared to the ruler Xerxes and his massive Persian army with soldiers and slaves from around the globe. However, it’s the will and skill of these 300 that inspire all of Greece to untie against the attacking Persian enemy and is the stuff that myths and legends are made of.

“The Spartans remain a mystery to everybody,” said Frank Miller, who wrote the comic book mini-series which 300 was based on. “They are arguably unique in that they are completely a battle culture, absolutely dedicated to warfare. They have a code of honor on what it means to be a Spartan, and out of that arises a heroic class like the world has never seen before.”

The tale overall is a spectacle, both mythical and exotic and action packed. I was sucked in from the beginning scene as the narrative’s momentum built a steady climatic anticipation.

The characters, however, are comprised of a relatively unknown cast. King Leonidas, Spartan’s leader, is played by Gerald Butler and his queen is portrayed by Lena Headey. I did recognize cast members, Dominic West from The Forgotten and David Wenham from The Lord of the Rings trilogy, but neither are household names by no means. However, this film didn’t need big names like Brad Pitt in Trojan, the story and filming accommodated the lesser known talent as did their own performances. And speaking of LOTR, I couldn’t help but compare 300 to the trilogy in its glorification of battle and folklore.

As for the filming, the sometimes cartoon style, it was easier to separate the blood and gore from the scenes, since the splattering of blood looked more like bright red paint being cast out on the screen in slow motion. Often the speed of the camera would slow on certain motions, creating a surreal and fantastical environment. The scenery at times looked like an artists painting but married with motion.

I was also impressed that a female character, the queen, had a surprisingly strong role in such a male dominated, bare-chested film. However, the female oracle and her simply voyeuristic role negated any true female empowerment.

Check out my full review at Film School Rejects.

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