A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 19 – 300

300 – March 19, 2010

Ahh, the long-anticipated 300. Or well, the long put-off 300. This week hasn’t gone precisely as planned, has it. I might just give up on trying to announce what we’re doing next. As you might have noticed, Andy went through and made a list of pretty much every DVD we own (probably missing a few that aren’t sitting with their fellows on the shelves and in the stacks) and we have just over 400 DVDs. And we’ll be buying more. Because that’s what we do. So, yeah. Worrying about what to watch next when it’s not part of a series or set? Not so important at this point I guess.

So on to the movie. We saw this in the theaters originally and I remember quite enjoying it. It really belongs on a big screen. The visuals are so stylized that it’s hard for me to see it as anything but the comic book it’s based on. It feels to me like a cross between Sin City and Julie Taymor’s Titus. Only with more bare chests and Gerard Butler and his gigantic beard.

To be perfectly honest, I’m not watching this movie for the plot or the dialogue. Obviously, the story isn’t going to be historically accurate, and the dialogue isn’t full of brilliantly quotable lines – aside from the THIS IS SPARTAAAAAAA! meme. Granted, I do enjoy the storytelling aspect of it, but then, I enjoy telling stories. It’s kind of an important part of my job. So I like that the movie is really all a tale being told. Something that’s in the past and being shared with others. It helps with the style of the visuals and the incredibly over-the-top aspects of it. Which would be about 99% of the movie. But really? I watch for the visuals. I watch this movie to watch it. It’s not pretty, but it is beautiful in ways. It’s a stunning piece of moving picture art.

I know I watched the commentary. I remember vague bits and pieces. But again, if I’m going to be honest? I don’t remember all that much about what was said. I just get so caught up in the pictures on the screen. And with a movie based on a comic book/graphic novel? That’s really fucking important. Graphic novels are supposed to be highly visual media. So it follows that a movie should capture that. And this one does.

I could complain about historical inaccuracies or the shoehorned in Gorgo subplot or Gerard Butler’s accent, which makes me wonder if Leonides is supposed to sound vaguely Scottish or not, or the fact that Gerard Butler was good in this (aside from the accent) and has since made me want to do nothing more than kick him in the nads, but seriously, I can’t get over the picture on my tv. It’s mesmerizing.

I have no idea what we’re watching next. We’ll figure it out tomorrow.

March 19, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , | 2 Comments

300

March 19, 2010

300

I really enjoy the work of Frank Miller.  His harsh square lines.  His fondness for big indomitable lugs.  As with any self respecting comic fan I fell in love with The Dark Knight while I was in high school.  I consider Daredevil: Born Again to be one of the greatest superhero stories I’ve ever read.  But I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t read 300 until after watching the movie in the theater. When I did read the book I was surprised that several images from the movie that struck me as quintessential Frank Miller were, in fact, not in the original book at all.  In particular the hulking executioner with blades for arms seemed very much like something Frank would have carved out of his fevered imagination.  That this creature was not Frank’s shows how well Zack (visionary director of the 300) Snyder channels Frank Miller in creating this movie.

This movie succeeds better than perhaps any other as a masterpiece of style over substance.  It is all flash, all insane over-the-top beauty.  It makes no pretensions to being anything besides a rousing action adventure.  Only not so much with the adventure.  It’s just pure unadulterated action.  There is a paper thin plot, a scaffold upon which hangs a single lengthy battle.

Zack Snyder is an artist here.  He provides us with a  carefully crafted succession of gruesome and thrilling images.  The camera flits through the battle like a dancer, pausing on the beat to deliver each gory tableau and then races ahead to get to the next.

In short: this is a visceral romp.  Turn off your brain and enjoy it.  I certainly did.  I enjoyed Gerard Butler channelling Brian Blessed as Leonides.  I enjoyed David Wenham’s dry narration.  And I mostly enjoyed the simple unthinking action of it all.

Oh, and one quick note: I saw some complaints about the ludicrous notion that the Spartans went into battle in nothing but capes and loincloths.  (As if there was anything else in the movie that made any more sense.)  Be glad that Zack Snyder took this one liberty.  Frank Miller depicted the Spartans going into battle completely naked – taking his inspiration from illustrations on Grecian amphorae.

March 19, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , | 1 Comment