300 Just Out of the Theater Impressions

edited March 2007 in The Sandbox
Let me say that saying a film makes me want to run a game is not terribly uncommon for me. I am easily distracted. However my current BE game revolves around a military academy on a planet dubbed, you guessed it, Sparta. I am channeling all the awesome I can muster from this film into that game.

And it was awesome! I wanted to turn around and watch the film again but the next showing was also sold out (we bought tickets last week for our theater's version of IMAX).

It is comic book come to life. It was a violence ridden testosterone fest like no other and it was beautiful.

I can only hope I can bring forth the sheer coolness I just watched when running my game.

Meanwhile I shall be walking about with a maniacal grin shouting "THIS IS SPARTA!"

- Don
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Comments

  • Just got home. My wife begged off, which was just as well, so I went with my grandson and most of his SCA household. The testosterone was thick in the air and the desire to be in the battle welling up at the edge of their little heavy fighter eyes.

    I thought it was a superb realization of the comic and yes it makes one want to game, maybe not at Thermopole but in other battles. It should be something that encourages rediculous bravery like Wushu, a trust mechanic like Thirty and a doom to live up to.

    One downside of the movie were the ubiquitous, almost cartoon, gobbets of blood. The metaphores that make us accept the violence demanded something that was more real.
  • not bad.
    the acting was more than a bit heavy handed, but it's a comic book movie inspired by an historic account. i expected it to be over the top.
    i didn't go into it expecting much, and was entertained.
    and it had boobs.
    i'm not sure it's a movie most women will like, even with bare-chested Spartans.
    not sure if Zack Snyder can do justice to Watchmen...i guess we'll see. well, i'll see, anyway.
  • edited March 2007
    Posted By: Natenot sure if Zack Snyder can do justice to Watchmen
    Somebody will make a film out of Watchmen?!?

    Damn...

    A few years ago, I'd have said that it can only suck horribly. Then, we'd had a few good comic movies, like Sin City or (from the sound of it) 300, so I do have hope. But Watchmen..? I don't know. A part of me wants to jumpp up and down in excitement, but the rest just thinks "I hope they don't fuck it up..."
  • I think they need to cast me as Rorschach ;-)
  • My wife and I both liked it a lot. On the way home, we turned to each other and said, "please, God, don't let George W. Bush see this movie." It's message is troubling and unambiguous. All the draft fodder in the audience emitted throaty cheers when the Greeks finally put pay to Persian (cough) aggression at Plataea. To sum up, a rockin' action movie but leave your political sensibilities at home.
  • First time I saw it (Terry's friend won early screening tickets for Tuesday):

    - Most of the actors were amazing. Gerard Butler (King Leonidas), Lena Headey (Queen Gorgo), Dominic West (Theron), David Wenham (Dilios), and Andrew Tiernan (Ephialtes) were all very good!
    - I am 50/50 on Rodrigo Santoro (Xerxes).
    - Dominic West (Jimmy McNulty from the wire) actually had a lot of screen time. He was awesome. And played an asshole as always. But an asshole with no redeeming qualities here. He has some cool lines.
    - Not a lot of character development going on. I didn't care when people died.
    - Although Andrew Tiernan (Ephialtes) had lots of character development and I actually cared about him.
    - Lena Headey (Queen Gorgo) was also pretty bad ass with lots of screen time.
    - The movie is bad ass.
    - The dialog was fun and bad ass.
    - David Wenham (Dilios) narrating was bad ass.
    - The fighting was EXTREMELY bad ass.
    - Too much slow motion.
    - A few too many jokes during combat (not as bad as lord of the rings)
    - Combat was bloody as hell (many limbs cut off and decapitations)
    - But combat also felt cartoony for some reason.
    - No man on man love.
    - In fact, this movie's slogan should have been... THIS IS HETEROSEXUAL!!!
    - The Spartan's even mock the Athenian's for being boy lovers. I thought it was a setup for them claiming to love real men. But nothing.
    - To contrast this, they showed Xerxes as being feminine which was annoying.
    - I didn't find the bad guys being mostly asian, black, or monsters as offensive as I thought I would. The crowd we saw it with were 75% black easily and they didn't seem to care. I'd say 50% of the bad guys were unknown, 25% monsters, 15% asian, 10% black.
    - OMG... stop with the preaching! We get it! Freedom this, freedom that. We aren't slaves. We are free.
    - Sometimes the Spartan reminded me too much of football players from high school but I can understand why.
    - I know I mentioned this already but waaaay too much slow motion!!! Not just in the fight scenes but all over the place.
    - They had themes of anti-mysticism. I didn't understand why.
    - No mention of the Spartan slaves or why they are warriors.
    - They showed a man with a goat head at some point!!! What???
    - There was lots of kick ass fighting and I never got tired of it. Not too much and not too little. I just wish I cared about the stakes more.
    - The movie also looked really cool. I like the color tones and painted backgrounds.

    Second time I saw it (I have purchased tickets for Thursday night before I knew Terry won early screening tickets):

    - It was better than the first time.
    - I felt this time I could put aside the many "simple' aspects of the movie, lack of character investment, and the overwhelming "we're heterosexual crap".
    - I'd see it again. It's a spectacle. Both times I saw it, most people clapped at the end of the movie. It's simple but the acting and visuals are really, really good.

    The Village Voice has a funny review:
    http://www.villagevoice.com/film/0710,lee,75993,20.html
    "Delicacies of dismemberment aside, 300 is notable for its outrageous sexual confusion. Here stands the Spartan king Leonidas (Gerard Butler) and his 299 buddies in nothing but leather man-panties and oiled torsos, clutching a variety of phalluses they seek to thrust in the bodies of their foes by trapping them in a small, rectum-like mountain passage called the "gates of hell(o!)" Yonder rises the Persian menace, led by the slinky, mascara'd Xerxes. When he's not flaring his nostrils at Leonidas and demanding he kneel down before his, uh, majesty, this flamboyantly pierced crypto-transsexual lounges on chinchilla throw pillows amidst a rump-shaking orgy of disfigured lesbians."

    The NY Times review just sucked and was mean spirited. I wanted to punch out the reviewer. There were so many more things to make fun of, such as the rabid sexual confusion, rather than focusing on how it was simple and non nuanced. Come on, did they fucking watch the commercial for this movie? It clearly advertised a bunch of semi naked men yelling all the time and kicking ass. And the movie delivered. Now if it claimed to be something else, I would understand. But damn, were those trailer and commercials selling the truth. The movie over delivered in its selling points!!!
  • Also of note - it was filmed almost entirely against bluescreen. In Montreal. There's a painterly quality to it that comes from every bit of it not being real. Zack Snyder has some directorial tics that carried over from his (also good) Dawn of the Dead remake - all the TV commercial smash cuts, the speed-up-slow-down wankery - but it works for me. He's his own dude - apparently somebody schooled him on how a phalanx actually worked, as opposed to what he wanted to shoot, and he said "I want it to look cool, though."
  • Yeah. I honestly believe that this is what the current technological feats of film-making were meant to accomplish. Like Sin City it could paint a completely realized world of it's own. I was giddy watching it. I had high expectations and surprisingly it met every one. This was a movie about bad ass guys bred for combat to strut their stuff. One diffinitive line (among many kick ass one liners) was when a Spartan is talking to an Acadian looking over the miles of Persian encampments. He laughs and when the Acadian presses him the Spartan says "maybe with so many warriors out there there may actually be a chance I can find one to provide me with a beautiful death."

    These guys are real superheroes. They may not fly (although they do have capes) they approach every situation knowing they will either kick ass or die trying. One interesting part of this film (and the comic) was that amid the fantasy there were interesting bits about historical Spartans that shine through - such as how the phalanx was effective and why they could wade into combat with no armor save a helmet and shield - it made them fast and manueverable. And there are many accounts that demonstrated (in a flashy, action movie sort of way) how versitile the spear was compared to the swords most of the other combatants had.
  • edited March 2007
    Posted By: Jason MorningstarOn the way home, we turned to each other and said, "please, God, don't let George W. Bush see this movie."
    300 is a movie about a city that intentionally turns its citizenry into psychopaths and the one moment in history when that turned out to be a good idea.

    That said, it was fuckin rockin.
  • I think an important thing to keep in mind is the fact that most every part of the film is, from a diegetic standpoint, framed through the narration of the Boast-Tastic Faramir Dilios, Storyteller-Soldier of Sparta. It's over the top, it leaps and lingers from moment to moment, in the same kind of way that a storyteller who is a soldier probably world. That move (which I don't know if it comes from the graphic novel, since I've only glanced at it) made the movie much more palpatable for me, since I experienced it as "This is Dilios telling the story to motivate the counsel, and then later to motivate the other soldiers -- he focuses on what matters to his audience--asskickery and propaganda."
  • Actually, that was a little bit that I liked: there was a part of the movie that was "what happened, as seen by Dillios" and the rest was "what Dillios would really like to have happened" which included the certain body piercings being lost by certain people.
  • Damn, I can't wait to see this movie... ^_^
  • MRUnderwood, Joshua... awesome!!!
  • Note: said trick was totally cribbed from Absalom, Absalom. ;)
  • I know the two don't really have anything to do with one another, but did anyone have Dictionary of Mu running through their heads while watching the movie? Both just seem really brutal and hardcore.
  • Posted By: jenskot
    - They showed a man with a goat head at some point!!! What???
    My buddies and I noticed this too. Seriously, WTF?!

    But yeah, the film definitely delivered. Without a doubt.
  • If I was god-king of Persia and setting up a gigantic sex harem, I would include a guy with a goat's head. That seems like a no-brainer to me.
  • I dunno. I liked the beautifully choreographed violence and the gorgeous beefcake, but other than that, the plot was pretty thin. When people weren't fighting on screen, I was mostly pretty bored.

    I also had a hard time dealing with some implicit messages in the movie. Everyone who is ugly is evil. Everyone who is good is beautiful. Everyone who isn't white is evil. Women are only good for having babies and sex (they did a bit better with the women thing than the rest of it, but not by much). I am generally forgiving of accuracy in my historical fiction, but the idea of Spartans being the "champions of freedom" strikes me as amazingly hypocritical.

    I am used to Frank Miller pushing ideas that I am uncomfortable with and usually forgive him because his art is so beautiful, but I liked Sin City and Batman Returns much more than 300.
  • Posted By: Jason MorningstarIf I was god-king of Persia and setting up a gigantic sex harem, I would include a guy with a goat's head. That seems like a no-brainer to me.
    yes, but is the goat-head-man's previous job experience? Does he have acceptable work references?
  • >>Women are only good for having babies and sex (they did a bit better with the women thing than the rest of it, but not by much). I am generally forgiving of accuracy in my historical fiction, but the idea of Spartans being the "champions of freedom" strikes me as amazingly hypocritical.
  • Posted By: Jason MorningstarMy wife and I both liked it a lot. On the way home, we turned to each other and said, "please, God, don't let George W. Bush see this movie." It's message is troubling and unambiguous. All the draft fodder in the audience emitted throaty cheers when the Greeks finally put pay to Persian (cough) aggression at Plataea. To sum up, a rockin' action movie but leave your political sensibilities at home.
    About a third of the way through I started feeling the sledgehammer blows of King President King Leonidas W. Bush leading the beleaguered Armies of Freedom to keep the Persian Hordes from invading their homes and turning their women into sexual slaves.
  • Threre was an excellent documentary on the history channel this weekend that I watched this morning. It did a lot to paint in the rest of the story that Millar left out. It is too close now but I would love to see a long form miniseries with the whole story and lots of flashbacks to fill it in. it would easily fill up 12 or 14 hour episodes.
  • A Shield is the New Katana.

    It's about time these things were shown off in action/fantasy movies as something other than "Good for about 2 blocks; Plus it's just that thing that keeps the hero away from being all badass with two swords or axes at the same time". My favorite "RPG: Hmmmmmm" moments were the ones where someone is about to get nailed with something bad, and their buddy blocks the blow with this bigass man-sized shield. Or the shield based tactics.

    +1 to AC my ass.
  • mmmHmmm - Shields *are* totally badass!

    (When i did boffer-larp, i was, like, the *only* guy who used a shield - instead of two swords, or a great sword, or those nasty great axes - and it ruled...)
  • I have to retract some of what I said earlier on this thread about Frank Millar's story. It occurred to me that I'd only seen the movie and not read the comic, and it was unfair of me to criticize Millar without reading the original work.

    I've read it now, and a lot of what I disliked in the movie was absent from the book.

    * The Persians were human, not monsters. The only physical freaks were the Greek humpback Ephialtes and Greeks priests, the Ephors.

    * The book acknowledged that the Spartans themselves had slaves and were not a democracy. In the book, the Spartans mentioned fighting for "freedom" a couple times, but didn't harp endlessly on it.

    * The book did mention the role that the Athenians had in fighting the Persians, mentioning both Marathon and the Athenian naval victories that made the Spartans land battles meaningful.

    * The whole "queen as whore" subplot was completely new to the movie.

    So, my criticism of the movie remains the same, but I liked the book quite a bit better.

    As a side note, having read the book, I also have to acknowledge that the movie did an amazing job of being visually faithful to the comic, in much the same way that Sin City was.
  • I loved it. It was blood, it was boobies, it was a big-screen comic book. Awesome.

    My favourite fight was the giant that the Immortals brought with them. I involuntarily dropped an "Oh shit!" when he grabbed the Spartan spear that was thrust at him and cut it. Totally had me cheering from my seat.

    And that speeding and slowing the film wankery? Loved it. It said to me; "Look at this frame right -here-. Isn't that an awesome frame?" And then it would speed up to catch up to the rest of the action. Seriously, it just talked to me.

    Loved it.

    Eric

  • for the love of christ it's Frank Miller.
    thank you.
    Millar's another comic's writer.
    sorry for the mini-rant.
  • Posted By: Lord MinxSomebody will make a film out of Watchmen?!?
    The film of Watchmen has been in various stages of development since about 1989, FYI.
  • So, um, I suppose I'm not going to be terribly popular if I mention here that I thought the movie was terrible? That it had a higher WTF??? factor than anything I've seen in at least the last 12 months, and I could never forget for a moment that everyone was standing in front of a green screen in a little studio? And that it had the most gawdawful voiceover narration of all times throughout the entire frickin' movie?
  • edited March 2007
    You're popular with me. I managed to sit through parts of Sin City on cable and, after reading the reviews, I'm not even planning to see 300 -- and I'm the guy who started a magazine article on U.S. war casualties with a Thermopylae reference (see http://www.govexec.com/dailyfed/0504/052804nj1.htm). With the marginal exception of the Bruce Willis character, Sin City struck me as a war between characters who were merely inhumanly superhuman and those who were monstrously inhuman, laced with more sex=death confusion than anything I've seen in Western culture since Wagner. I don't think I need any more of that.

    I'm not trying to condemn anyone else's taste here. For those of you who can appreciate these movies as pure motion and color, accented with one-liners -- as a death ballet as divorced from the reality of human conflict as The Nutcracker is from the reality of human love -- more power to you. I'm able to enjoy watching the lobby firefight in the first Matrixmovie, which totally creeps my wife out, and I don't think my wife's taste is inherently superior or inferior to mine based on her violence threshold, any more than a Frank Miller fan's taste is inherently superior to mine because I can't appreciate Sin City and 300, which are probably another step up the sex=death scale from The Matrix. But, wow, anyone else gicked out by these films has my heartfelt sympathy.
  • I'm going to see it and hopefully enjoy it for what it is, though I thought Sin City was horribly sexist and based on shock value instead of good characterization. Nearly all of the female characters in that movie were whores, and I'm not sure what positive treatment they can possibly get in Testosteronia (i.e. Sparta).
  • Christian - keep your expectations low for any spectacle movie. The Hype machine makes you want the movie more than any movie can deliver.

    This movie is sexist, racist, xenophobic, so was Homer, and it oversimplifies one of the most wonderful stories of that era which seems to be it's weakest point.

    At the same time there is some clever story telling and it is very pretty.
  • Posted By: thor
    This movie is sexist, racist, xenophobic, so was Homer, and it oversimplifies one of the most wonderful stories of that era which seems to be it's weakest point.
    Don't forget that it reduces handicapped people to freaks and monsters, sneers at "limp-wristed" homosexuality despite its glistening manly torso fest, and delivers the Donald Rumsfeld view of politics. I would have been mad, if hadn't been busy laughing my head off.
  • Hey Anemone, Ephialtes was an awesome cripple, and I know cripples. He was the only character in the movie that we got to see make a really strong choice, and the fact that he was ruined by it is all the more rock and roll. He's the guy I'd want to play if it were a game.
  • Posted By: thorso was Homer,
    Oh well, if Homer was, then I guess that's cool.

    What?
  • yeah. I think putting it in context is important. I was thinking about it afterward saying "wow, what fantastically gruesome ideas are painted here when thinking about children conditioned for combat." Although some interesting tactical and historical tidbits were paited in effective if not overly simplified means this is meant as pure combat porn. To even think about substance such as plot is silly in context of the film. Telling us an engrossing and complicated tale wasn't what this film sets out to do. To show us men in peak physical condition being totally badass and hinting at a culture driven toward a single realized purpose? That's what this film is about.

    When I go to see a film, I generally throw my political views out the window. It is a very rare occasion (two or three movies in my life) where I was annoyed by a political perspective in a film. I am the kind of person that sit's back and (hopefully) enjoys the ride.
  • Posted By: Ice Cream EmperorPosted By: thorso was Homer,
    Oh well, if Homer was, then I guess that's cool.

    What?

    Yea, I get that.

    Homer did not revel in the same things Miller does. But the story was not inconsistant with the history on these issues.

    Anemone - Sorry I didn't list all of the short comings. It was weird that a movie that was so taken with the male form was also so blatantly homophobic.
  • edited March 2007
    I have to inflict on you the 300 drinking game that my husband and I created last Tuesday after the movie:

    * Every time a Spartan yells "Aooooh!", take a drink.
    * Every time a Spartan strikes a pose, take a drink.
    * Every time the narrator starts droning, take a drink.
    * Every time the camera tracks a drop of something (blood, water, etc.), take a drink
    * Every time you can see any of King Leonidas' nose hairs, take a drink.
    * Every time you see a piercing, take a drink.
    * Every time a limb is removed in one blow, take a drink.
    * Every time a head is removed in one blow, take a drink and pass the bottle (left if it's a Spartan, right if it's a Persian).
    * Every time a Spartan moves but his abdominals don't, take a drink.
    * Every scene where clouds are racing but the light level never changes, take a drink.
    * Every time an Athenian whines, take a drink.
    * Every time you think "Where's the Stargate?", take a drink.
    * Every time a new completely improbable ethnic group or army unit shows up, kill the bottle
  • And as I recall, the real Spartans were pretty militantly homosexual, too -- even by ancient Greek standards. I even think there was something about getting permission to leave barracks to go **** your wife.

    On the upside, the Spartans gave their women much more freedom than the democratic Athenians, including encouraging organized sports (which they eventually had to ban men from other cities from coming to leer at) to strengthen their bodies for bearing strong warrior children -- ironic, given that we now know that exercise delays the onset of menarche. By contrast, upper-class Athenians tended to lock their women away on the inside rooms of the house and not let them see anyone but relatives. All that veiling and seclusion stuff we think of as Arabic? They're actually bad habits picked up from upper-class Greeks when the Arabs conquered half the Byzantine Empire in the 7th-9th centuries.

    Side note: The Muslims in general, and the Arabs in particular, are the direct heirs of ancient Greece, not "the West" (i.e. Europeans, European-descended North Americans like myself, Australians, etc.). Most of what we got from Greece, we got second-hand through the Arabs or through Rome (specifically the Western Empire), albeit there was some direct contact with Byzantium -- but even there, far less intense than the Byzantine-Arab interchange.
  • 300 is set in an alternate universe where the Spartans weren't gay.

    Also, this thread is set in an alternate universe where anything remotely resembling modern racism existed in Homeric times.

    yrs--
    --Ben
  • edited March 2007

    I'm with Jason. The cripples got the awesome spotlight. Ephialtes got to be cast out, beg for his father's redemption, and eventually make the choice between vengeance and Doing the Right Thing (tm). In the end he got to decide if the Gates would fall or not. Get that. The central cripple got to decide the final fate of the 300. He was the most awesome and powerful character in the movie.

    edited to add; Ben, you rock.

  • edited March 2007

    I think that bemoaning the values of this movie, percieved or real, is paramount to bemoaning the nutritional value of a bag of M&Ms.

  • Posted By: Eric ProvostI think that bemoaning the values of this movie, percieved or real, is paramount to bemoaning the nutritional value of a bag of M&Ms.
    Oh, I dunno. If it reaches a large audience, it's probably worth discussing, regardless of the conclusions reached in the discussion. Seems like even people who really enjoyed it are going "hmm" about certain parts in the film.
  • M&Ms reach a large audience too. It's just that no one's surprised that they are candy + chocolate. I guess I'm just a little shocked that everyone looked into their bag of 300 candy and was apparently expecting a steak or salad. It didn't say 'boobies + blood + screaming, and probably not much plot or social value' in the previews?

  • Posted By: Matt WilsonPosted By: Eric ProvostI think that bemoaning the values of this movie, percieved or real, is paramount to bemoaning the nutritional value of a bag of M&Ms.
    Oh, I dunno. If it reaches a large audience, it's probably worth discussing, regardless of the conclusions reached in the discussion. Seems like even people who really enjoyed it are going "hmm" about certain parts in the film.

    Hopefully, anyways!
  • Me eating candy causes health issues for myself. Me supporting sexist materials promotes sexism against other people.

    I'm not (yet) debating whether that's going on in this case, but it really is a different matter altogether.
  • To be honest, I didn't find its "isms" and politics much worse than half of what comes out of Hollywood; I don't want to start another racism/sexism thread. But I did find it an awful movie with lots of non sequiturs, forgettable acting, and a lavish but pointless F/X spread. WTF was that with the rhinoceros, the elephants and the blob-man? And why can't anyone stick to the accent for more than two sentences in a row?
  • I found the film to have nice special effects (though they were sometimes far enough over the top that they yanked me out of my suspension of disbelief and into "WTF?" mode) and the movie as a whole to be a completely forgettable popcorn flick. Not that there is anything wrong with a completely forgettable popcorn flick - that description encompasses most films - but there was nothing particularly memorable, moving, or inspirational about "300".
  • ok. i wanted violence. exciting violence set to metal. loud metal.

    there was violence. but it was boring and slow and made even worse by constant narration. you know..where there could have been metal...

    it was beautiful though. amazingly well-done visuals. especially the scene that used underwater photography. very very pretty. nice colors and textures. excellent character designs too.

    but boring.
  • Agreed. Metal would have been much more awesome.

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