Saturday, March 10, 2007

1 God-King, 300 Spartans, & 50 Zillion Arrows

Last night, Devilman and I drove miles and miles and miles into Suburbia to attend a midnight IMAX showing of The 300.

I will leave it to others to give a more thoughtful accounting of the film, which proposes to be the story of the Battle of Thermopylae, and just say that visually the film was quite fantastic. I've not read Frank Miller's graphic novel, but I am familiar with his style, which at times seems to be a cross between Maxfield Parrish and Frank Frazetta. Very stylized via a somber palette, with magnificent use of CGI to great backdrops that looked like paintings. The story itself, historical accuracy aside, was thin, ditto the characterizations, but subtle nuance of personality wasn't really the point of the film. The point of the film was to use modern special effects technology to bring alive a visually dynamic graphic novel, and in that, the film succeeded very well.

Though the real Spartans were proto-fascists, the screen versions are represented as a sort of Classical Minutemen, spouting much rhetoric about freedom and liberty, yet dying to protect a society that lacked the greatest qualities of a truly free people: generosity, compassion, and tolerance. The Persians were represented as Salammbo-esque degenerates, deformed or overly made-up, whose evil attack rhinoceros were no match for the Spartans' shield-wall. The battle sequences were long and acrobatic, but oddly bloodless. Body parts flew about, and spears were piercing, occasionally the blood went psst, but the battleground was mostly pretty gore free. The violence was too comic book to actually be disturbing.

Worth seeing if you care for visually arresting movies. Definitely probably plays better on the big screen. If you are looking for subtle characterizations, look elsewhere. To say, oh, Conan the Barbarian, perhaps.

"Excellent use of eyeliner to denote evilness." The Warlord's Wear Daily.

"Didn't the Spartans ever get cold?" The Alta Califa

"Where's my juggernaut?" The Author

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