For a while now, I have been looking forward to sword and sandals epic The 300. But it was Annabanana who arranged a screening at the cinema where all epics should be seen, The Embassy. The last film I had seen there was the last James Bond film Casino Royale (thanks to MariaS) and that definitely benefited form the ultra big screen experience, and the superlative sound. I loved the radio ads comparing the James Bond theme played on a kazoo to the Embassy’s magnificent system.
Back to the movie: I knew going in this was not going to be a studied affair of everyday Spartan existence. It was a comic book, brought to life. And visually, the movie is incredible – it is done by the same people as Sin City and has that quasi-animated look. The colours are washed out and the images are beautiful, some taken directly from the still images in the graphic novel.
The plot was never going to be anything more than it said it was. A battle of 300 against the might of the Persian Army led by (the apparently very tall) Xerxes. The beautiful women were represented, the “freaks” were more numerous (and mainly on the Persian side), but the main delegation of men was obviously from the planet Abkingpro. The performances were solid, the effects impressive, the incidental music quite beautiful.
But, throughout the film, I got the impression the audience wasn’t quite as impressed as it had expected to be. The Embassy was very full on this, the opening night, but there was only a light twitter of amusement as the “funny one liners” were delivered, whereas the almost obligatory stylised love-making scene between King Leonidas and his beautiful Queen met was greeted with far more laughter (probably as, while the two actors involved are stunning to look at, the scene itself played more like the sex scene from Team America: World Police than Titanic). And the action scenes didn’t really seem to rouse those around me, though perhaps I was mistaking my own reaction to that of the rest of the audience.
In the end, I (and perhaps others) found the film slow and ponderous. Most of the action scenes were stilted, the action slowing to a snails pace as the warriors moved their weaponry into position and then rocketing ahead to normal speed once their blades sliced through the enemy, only to slow down again as the blood thus generated came spurting out the other side. Once in a while, it would have been interesting, but as this occurred at almost every confrontation, the effect got a bit tedious. And the narrator’s voice over was unbelievably pompous, with his final rallying cry calling for Spartans to fight against tyranny (I am sure their slaves back home would have loved to hear that) and mysticism (no help from Mighty Zeus that day, perhaps). Having David Werner (or whatever the name of the actor who played Faramir in the Lord of the Rings films) leading a cheer that sounded not a lot unlike “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, oi, oi, oi” made me smile a bit, though that probably was only a connection that I made.
My favourite bit though (while still not trying to give anything away) had to be Lena Heady’s Queen kicking butt back on the home front. I am always a fan of strong female characters. They seem to be far more interesting than their male counterparts as they tend to portray strength from weakness, whereas the men tend to show weakness from strength (though the weakness is never that weak; more a sensitive side than a weakness, to be honest).
So, to sum up: It was what it was and not much more. I enjoyed it, but I am not sure if I would go again. And would anyone who read all this actually invite me to see it anyway? :)
Verdict: 200 out of 300