300 Review

I saw 300 on Thursday at midnight, and I must say I absolutely loved it. This is what a comic book movie should be, using the comic not as reference material, but actually as the storyboards. This was also done with Frank Miller’s other great work, Sin City, and proves that comic movies and green screen can be combined for an outstanding product.

I enjoyed 300 more than Sin City, mostly because of the subject material. A little bit about me that some of you do not know. I received my degree in Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies, which means ancient Greece and Persia were areas I studied in-depth. In fact, I had an upper level class devoted to nothing, but the relationship between Persia and Greece from the 5th Century B.C.E to after the death of Alexander the Great. I also love comic books, and I did my Speech Comm 100 presentation on Frank Miller’s comic.

I have read many of the reviews online and in the paper about the movie and want to comment on what some of them are saying. The first thing I notice is that many of the reviewers criticize the movie for being a “guy’s” movie, or a film with little substance and way too much violence. I know plenty of girls who want to, or have seen the movie, and they loved it. My girlfriend loved it visually, and for the half naked ripped men throughout.

Was the movie full of violence? Yes. It is a movie about a battle between a small group and a large army. Of course there is violence. Is war violent and bloody? No one really complains about Saving Private Ryan or some of the other war movies. Maybe people thought since it was a comic book movie, it should appeal to all ages. Wrong. That is one of the great things about comic books, some books are all ages, some are definitely not. 300 and Sin City deal with adult themes and situations.

These reviews also keep saying the movie is historically inaccurate. Unfortunately most of these morons failed to realize that the movie does not say “Based on a True Story” or something like that. They criticize how they make the Persians seem like barbarians, or that Xerxes comes off as effeminate. Frank Miller used Herodotus’ Histories as a sort of guide, taking liberties whenever he felt like it, since it is his retelling. Herodotus takes the Greek stance that the Persians were barbarians, and also that Xerxes was feminine, as opposed to the manly, superior, sophisticated Greeks. Many of the lines in the movie were taken directly from Herodotus, such as “Our arrows will blot out the sun. Then we will fight in the shade.”

I read somewhere that Frank Miller has some homoerotic tendency (they cite some of his other works), because all the men are ripped and very good looking, and the only Spartan to not show these traits was Ephialtes, who betrayed King Leonidas. Again this is something that Greek writers emphasized. In the Iliad Homer describes Thersites as bow-legged, weak, and lame. He is the person who opposes Odysseus in Book II. He makes negative comments and says they should leave Troy. Odysseus then beats him for speaking so, which rouses the men to continue on in battle. Herodotus set out to make an epic story, similar to the Iliad, therefore it is not surprising he borrowed elements from Homer.

This next complaint deals with those movie reviewers who think they are some kind of literary reviewers, and try to find symbolism in everything. The big one they are saying is that the movie is Pro-War for the U.S. against Iran. First of all, just because Persia and Iran are the same place does not automatically mean the movie is about the modern day problems between these two countries. It more or less tells us that history does repeat itself.

The comic’s first issue came out in 1998 and the collected graphic novel was released in 1999. This was well before 9/11, the War on Terror, Bush II, and the current Iran issue. The movie follows the comic almost entirely, things that were added or cut still do not give me the impression of some pro-war secret agenda.

I have not seen this yet, but I am sure someone has complained about it: certain scenes, like the giant, or the guy with sawed arms, were ridiculous and could not happen. Remember, this is being told to later Greeks by Dilios, so I am sure he exaggerated somewhat, in order to help stir the rest of the Greek army before they battled the Persians at Plataea.

Anyways, the casting of the movie was superb. Gerard Butler was awesome as King Leonidas. I would love to know how they got his beard to look pointy like it does in the comic. Xerxes was played by Rodrigo Santoro, the guy who plays my least favorite Lost character, Paulo. David Wenham (Faramir) plays Dilios, the lone Spartan survivor and narrator of the events.

Zach Synder said in an interview with IGN.com that they purposely changed the fighting style of the phalanx, for visual reasons, and to mostly look cool. I am okay with this, the phalanx was not meant to be pretty, but it definitely was effective. The battle scenes in the movie looked incredible, and I am sure most would agree, it was a shame that Troy did not put forth the same kind of effort to make their battles look this amazing. One of my favorite things was the use of the red capes of the Spartans, how they flowed around them and moved during different fight scenes.

Photos from IMDB and CBR.

11 thoughts on “300 Review

  1. I’ve been waiting for you to review this….I saw it on Saturday night and came home and looked that night to see if you had written about it yet.

    Actually, I didn’t even really want to see this movie, but Spinner was going to go by himself and I felt bad, haha….but this movie was awesome. I also liked it more than Sin City.

    I never saw this referred to as a “guy’s movie” but I believe it. Although there weren’t many girls in the theater….which is dumb, I’d rather pull my eyelashes out than watch something like “When Harry Met Sally”. Guy’s movie, schmuy’s movie. I did see a surprising amount of people buying tickets for “Wild Hogs” and I just felt bad for them.

    Although the half-naked ripped men did help a bit. Why did the skinny hot guy have to die? Why can’t I remember his name?

    In regards to your complaint about people comparing this movie to the current war: there was also a review in the Post-Gazette that compared George W. to both Leonidus and Xerxes (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07068/768019-120.stm). I’m sorry that no one’s paying attention to the pointless war anymore but I don’t think we’re going to get people back into it by comparing it to this movie. I hate that. Stop reading so much into the movie and just enjoy it.

    So uh…yeah. I’m doing this at work again and I just lost my train of thought. So….really good movie, really good actor in the role of Leonidus, I’m glad the Queen killed Theron, and I really want to check out the graphic novel. (Which I’m sure a lot of people are saying.)

  2. Rather than gush about how great the movie was (its fairly obvious, solely taking its poster into account), i’ll instead quote some funny things i heard upon exiting the theater:

    “they really didnt need that many arrows. i bet the archer in the back row didnt even know what he was shooting at…”

    “is that place on Mott (St. – in Chinatown, ed. note) still open? if so im gettin a sword…”

    “there wasnt a single pair of pants in that movie…”

    “if i saw a spear coming at me from 50 yards id take a step to the left…”

    and my personal fave, not taken from the theater but rather a message board this morning:

    “if you’re a guy, after seeing this movie you’ll want to hunt boar and type in all caps…”

    on a side note, when harry met sally was awesome, and i liked sin city more.

  3. I guess my biggest problem is when people decide to project their feelings (about the war) onto films and books. These people want to find undertones that justify what they are feeling, and unfortunately there was nothing there. How sad is it that some critics think Bush is Leonidas and others think he is Xerxes. If the movie did have some war agenda, I think they would have tried to make it a bit more clear…

    anyways, Allison…the skinny guy had to die, they all did. Only Dilios got to live, which was sad. I watch the movie again last night, and got a nice chill when Leonidas tells Ephialtes “Ephialtes, may you live forever.” That was a great insult, for someone who thought of themself as a Spartan. I am guessing Ephialtes knew what was going to happen.


  4. I just downloaded the soundtrack from the movie. It is by Tyler Bates, and it is absolutely awesome.

    I loved that some of the music is like heavy, but they still used the orchestra to do the music. During the one fight scene, it seemed they were going to use a heavy metal song, like Let the Bodies hit the Floor or something, which would have been gay, but using an orchestra, but in a heavy style was much cooler.

    Also, some of the songs have that Eastern feel, which helps add to the soundtrack.

  5. excellent review, and strong criticism of the critics of this film.

    a lot of the comments about the current war are way off, but they are motivated by Frank Miller’s generally conservative politics, which is an interesting fact about him.

    the professor who helped miller with the history was just on NPR’s all things considered on monday, you might be interested in looking it up. i listened to it on the radio, very interesting. and he discussed all about the choice to change the combat, and the importance of the earlier scene where they demonstrated how the phalanx worked.

    also, interesting to note, there is some support for the pattern of the battle, going from strict phalanx, to on the last day being more of a free for all when they realized that they were going to die.

    and, of all the historical things to criticize, no one is mentioning that there were a lot more than 300 soldiers there, only 300 spartans, but they brought like 500 slaves, and there were thebians, and thesbians (damn spellings, but its a village in the same region with a name that sounds much like lesbians.)

    i’m not criticizing that, because its a storytelling technique, and the rest of the historical changes were just that…it just goes to show you that critics only have a job because they criticize. its like being an expert on TB, every case you diagnose looks like TB, because that way you are important!

  6. Offord:

    I just saw it last night, pretty awesome. I saw it on a gigantic screen that was practically iMax, so that was cool. Umm, maybe my expectations were too high for this (Sin City + Gladiator does not equal best movie in history like I thought it would), but it was still entertaining. I just never felt any emotion at all for the characters, which is one of my main draws in a movie. If at the end, I feel for a character (Gladiator, American Beauty, Saving Pvt Ryan) then I am truly happy. But, not with this as much. I actually felt more for Bruce Willis in Sin City, so I liked that movie better.

    That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed it other than a couple disorienting battle scenes.

    (The doggy style sex scene was something I’ve never seen in a mainstream movie that I can recall, albeit short)

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