Monday, April 09, 2007

A Review Of 300

I saw 300 over the weekend and apparently...

Frank Miller Graphic Novel + Ballsy Director + Blue/Green Screen = Gold

I really enjoyed this movie. Although I thought this movie looked cool from the moment I saw the first trailer, I wasn't entirely sure it would actually be good. After all, Sin City succeeded in part because Robert Rodriguez is a mad genius. Once I found out Zack Snyder would be directing, it worried me a bit too. I saw his Dawn Of The Dead remake in the theater and while it had its moments (the opening sequence was superb), it was ultimately a bit disappointing. However, Snyder really redeemed himself with 300 and now, I can't wait to see what he does next.

I enjoyed a lot about 300. Even though I have read some who criticized the movie's unnatural look (I've never seen a sky that color), I liked it. It made it stand out from the pack and frankly, I love seeing stuff in movies I have never seen before. I enjoyed Gerard Butler in the lead as King Leonidas. He put in a great performance. That role could have easily been overacted but Butler finds the right note. The other performances were good as well but I have to especially single out Rodrigo Santoro as Xerxes. Having watched him on this season of Lost, I have to say that he pulled off one hell of a transformation.

The battle scenes were pretty good and although the movie was violent, it actually didn't feel as violent as it was. Since most of the blood was CG, some of the visceral feeling you get from seeing violence was lost. However, like Sin City, some of that feeling was restored in the more extreme moments. When I saw a Spartan warrior cut off someone's leg instead of just stabbing them, that sense of “Damn!” came back.

If there is one thing to fault 300 on, it's the way it basically says that white people are “good” and everyone else is “bad.” I'm not going to whine about this the way some have, but it does give me some pause. In one scene, a black person who works for the villain Xerxes literally turns black with only the whites of his eyes easily visible. Although it's a cool visual image that represents how evil the character was supposed to be, I can't help but think about how it also seems to equate being black with being evil. I sort of wish there was a bit more nuance in the way they handled that but 300 wasn't meant to be a serious drama. It was meant to be essentially a historical action movie. So, I can forgive the way good and evil are presented and just have fun.

If you haven't seen 300, I definitely recommend you check it out, preferably on the big screen. It's a movie that benefits from being played in a theater and although it probably look gorgeous on DVD, the theater experience adds a lot to the proceedings.

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