Monday, March 19, 2007

Go tell the Spartans, passerby, that here, by Spartan law, we lie

I actually went to the theater to see a movie! I know, I say that every time I do this, don't I? It's getting repetitive, isn't it? Shit. Well, I don't know how else to start this off. I guess I'm sort of a one trick pony in that regard. You know what? Fuck it. I just won't say anything.


Not one word.



Okay! You win! I'll tell you about it. I went to see Zack Snyder's adaptation of Frank Miller's graphic novel 300. It's the story of the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC, when 300 Spartan soldiers faced off against the might of King Xerxes's Persian army. An army that numbered close to one million.

The story itself is told from the perspective of a Spartan soldier, his name was not Faramir, it was just the same actor. His Spartan name was Dilios which sounds like a white guy trying to speak in some sort of misappropriated urban slang. Dilios was at the battle. He saw everything first hand. And it is through his remaining eye that everything is explained.

Spartans are trained for battle from birth. It's what they do. They are not blacksmiths. They are not farmers. They do not sell slurpees at the 7-11. They fight. Everything in their culture is about the glory of battle. They are led by King Leonidas. It was Leonidas who toldthe emissary of Xerces that the Spartans would not sumbit to the Persians. It was Leonidas who killed the emissary instead of letting him inform Xerxes.

Leonidas was bound by law to visit an Oracle to seek favor in battle, and when it was not given, it was Leonidas who decided to take 300 men and fight the Persians anyways, in violation of Spartan law. He claims that the 300 men are his personal bodyguards and he's just going out for a walk. And boy do the politicians look stupid when they realize what's really going on...and that's when Balki shows up with a plan...wait, no. That was a rerun of Perfect Strangers. Sorry about that. I got confused. Man, wasn't that show hilarious though! Don't be ridiculous! Ha! Classic, man. Classic.

The Spartans head for the Hot Gates. A narrow pass where numbers won't matter. A place where 300 men could stand up to an army a million soldiers strong. They set up camp and soon begin it's defense.

They fight. It's a brutal and violent battle, even by brutal and violent battle standards. It makes Braveheart look like a Merchant Ivory movie. Actually, that should have been the tagline for the movie. Can you see that on the posters?

Hey! Where are you guys going?

The Spartans manage to defeat the first wave of fighting, and then the second. It's at this point that Xerxes meets with Leonidas to salute his valor and offer him various rewards for his surrender. Xerxes offers him rule of all of Greece, power, money, a brand new convertible and whatever is behind door number 3, all he has to do is kneel.

Dammit! This is SO going in my livejournal!

I think it goes without saying that Leonidas won't kneel. As a result, Xerxes sends in his special forces, The Immortals. The Spartans want to know if it's true, or just a clever nickname. Well, thanks to the gates...The Immortals don't fare any better.

Look at me! I'm tough! Grr!

The battles continue until the inevitable final showdown between the Spartans and Xerxes. One last battle with the odds completely against the Spartans. Surround by the Persian armies on all sides and no help coming.

300 is, from a technical standpoint, a pretty amazing thing. Shot almost entirely on blue screen, it feels like a comic book jumping off of the page. Snyder makes great use of varying the speed of motion during the battles to really complete the effect. Everything comes to a standstill on screen just for a split second to frame it in your mind.

Admittedly, 300 is not 100% historically accurate. It's a movie. It's not supposed to be 100% historically accurate. It's supposed to be more entertaining than real history. It's Frank Miller's version of history. More than that, it's Dilios' version. The story is told from his perspective. He's retelling it. He's trying to embolden the allied Greek troops before the Battle or Plataea.

The only thing I'm left wondering is shuld I buy this when the DVD comes out? I mean, I know I'd like to check out an making of type stuff, and commentaries of course, but is it something that I'll really want to watch again. I mean, we just finished a week of my favorite movies. Does this compare? Not really. It was enjoyable and pretty engrossing, but it's kind of like, okay, I've seen it, now what? 7 and a half canopies of arrows raining down on you out of 10.


Nik! said...

Grrrrrr. :)

Yeah, no *might* about it.