Saturday, March 17, 2007
How much did I hate this movie???
"300" is all pretty pictures (and I admit there are many of them) and no substance---much like most things tainted by Frank Miller). However,in this instance, Frank Miller can be held mostly blameless. Instead let's put the blame where it belongs: in the empty void of candy cotton nothing that is director Zack Snyder.
There is much here that toys with the audience, giving glimpses of what could have been reworked into a solid film. For instance, the character of Leonides' wife and her political moves to convince Sparta to send the army to back the 300 warriors in their battle against the Persians. Here, is the potential for something compelling. However, "one-note" Zack and his poor choice of Lena Heady as Queen Gorgo crush that flower before it can blossom.
Another element that could have given this film the depth it desires is Gerald Butler and his portrayal of Leonides. Now Butler, who continues to fall short of a strong film presence in his career, falls even shorter being hamstrung by Snyder. Instead of anything resembling nuance or subtlety, we are given horrible close-ups that last far too long as Snyder forces Butler to glare inward and brood. I can just hear Snyder calling out: "Now look left, now right. Camera One, zoom in..more..more...I wanna see that pupil glisten!!!"
The visuals, many of which are in your face homoerotic, are amazing. Lot's of pec, oiled down abs, and mansweat. Truman Capote would have cried at such a dose of testosterone. That, or exploded.
However, as should have learned from Lucas, a film needs to be more. I should not have been watching the rhino charge and laughing out loud. The Persian horde is an absurity in this film. One wave of bizarre warriors after another attack the 300. Here comes the ninja boys, then the bomb hurling whatever they are, and behind them the snarky looking thingums with the twisted faces. I kept expecting Michael Beck and the Warriors from the 1970's cult film to make an appearance.
Sadly, behind this display of oddities the real drama and the real humanity that made Leionides stand such great drama is lost.
But don't worry, many critics out there, doubtless numbed by the poor quality of last year's offerings, have heaped praise on this outing. Or maybe many contemporary critics have lost their way. Or maybe they're getting payola.
And the fanboys will be thrilled. They'll clap their greasy little hands and their utterances of "cool" and "kick-ass" will be heard in bursts throughout the theater. But fanboys are a pathetic lot overall, losing perspective or taste when it comes to trying to be critical about their genre or favorite author (I'm guilty of that as well).
I know many people reading this will try and defend this film. They'll scoff: "You didn't get it" or "You just don't like Frank Miller. You didn't like Sin City, either". They'll find ways to justify kitsch. They always do.