One line reviews: 300- Henry V with way less jabberin’ and much more stabberin’ (although they don’t win like Harry)
The Alamo with no shootage but some minor boobage?
I really wanted to see 300 this week, because I didn’t want to go alone, and I don’t go to movies with my guy friends, really, no matter how macho the movie is, and my girlfriend has to work in the morning and plus has season tickets to the Orlando Ballet and they were doing (appropriately enough I guess) Spartacus, while the best half of a millenium away from Thermopylae, the same general area and people.
I wanted to go to a late showing to avoid the unruly early crowds of kids, so she agreed to go to the 10:45pm showing at Downtown Disney after the ballet, which began at 7pm and ended at 10pm, and I would go to the ballet with her (her sister usually goes but couldn’t this time or something.)
Of course everyone is basically familiar with ballet, but I’d never personally been to a live one, so I was pretty ok with it, notwithstanding the 3 hour length seemed a little daunting, I know ballets “tell stories”, but that stories is inevitably “told” by groups, couples and solo dancers dancing around with little regard to actual plot development, at least to my eyes. The “slaves” in this did no slaving other than to dance around reaching their arms out plaintively, symbolizing the struggle to be free or something. The rather fey soldiers just kind of waved swords at them menacingly and pushed them around from place to place while the king danced around taunting them. But before the taunting…
First off we are way early, its 8pm not 7pm, little mixup with the daily planner, ok, have some champagne and stand around, reminded me of after church, everyone dressed up and lots of elderly people. I was amazed at all the kids and young people there though, I’d have never have had the patience nor desire to see any ballet, let alone a 3 hour one, in my pre and teen years. Well actually, ever. I was just being a really cool boyfriend, plus I wanted her to go to 300. The movie was still ok with the 8-11pm ballet, we’d just go to the midnight, its a fairly short movie (116 mins, inside of 2 hours anyway) so she was good with that.
The ballet: I don’t know jack about ballet, but you can tell skill and talent, and who stuck their landings and who did missteps. Not bad at all for a local troupe, they are trying to get a better facility and sound system. As I understand they can only afford the Orlando Philharmonic two times a year, and this wasn’t one of them. The sound had no low end and I was used to the great acoustics and systems at the Tampa Theatre and Performing Arts Center and it was pretty much like a small stereo cranked way up, unidirectional and terrible acoustics and tone.
The music itself was very dramatic, kind of like the Mighty Mouse theme, Superman theme, 50’s adventure movies like Zorro music etc., with crescendo after crescendo and frenetic fandangoish rhythms. It was kind of hilarious, actually. “Here I come to save the da-ay!” fit right in with most of it, and we sang quietly here and there.
However, I’m a musician and I can appreciate the artistry and they hard work these guys do, I mean my god to even learn all those steps, let alone endlessly rehearse and perfect them must be a bear, but maybe learning lots of songs as a musician does is inscrutable and unimaginable to non-musicians, so who knows. I had a good time, and as an added bonus, my girlfriend decided she was really tired and we left after the first intermission, after an hour of ballet, just the right amount. Mighty entertaining, see ya folks (I saw lots of other people abandoning ship too. That would suck to be if those ballet guys and gals were playing the last act to a half-empty house. I hope it wasn’t, they seemed like nice folks.)
We get to the Disney, and whatdayaknow, I don’t live in Orlando but I should have figured this out myself- its fucking packed. 10:45 sold out. There’s an 11:25pm, after some cajoling and light pleading (I really wanted to see this movie, I think she did a little bit too, the way I was hyping it) we went. Hour wait still, after eating, but hey we’ll get in line for good seats!
100 people at least in line when we get up there. But we still snatched fantastic aisle seats with the low bar (no seats!) in front of us and a short wall to put your feet up. Score!
Ok the movie. Everyone and their brother is writing about this, and if you wanna see it you don’t want spoilers, so I’ll keep to some impressions. One thing immediately, the sex has been way over-hyped in the reviews I’ve seen, both the ones lauding and attacking it. All the 3 lonely “sex scenes” could comfortably fit in the trailer, and all 3 have key shots IN the fucking trailer so no surprises really. Also, after Neil Cumpston, over at Aintitcool.com, (one of my favorite reviewers) lamenting all the naked male ass, there’s one fucking 2 second shot of naked male buttocks, lit by the moon. You see more finely sculted male ass watching a baseball game, if you are bothered by male ass this is not a problem guys, although Neil’s “dudity” construction was still nice work.
The 3 “sex” scenes are not even sexy. There’s a disturbing, exotic and just strange scene of the Persians’ ideas of kink, basically some deformed prostitutes from the look of them, quick shock shots, big dealio. The other 2 are a short, tame love scene a lot less graphic than network teevee, except with boobage, and the teeniebopper oracle’s boob for a few seconds. Other than the fact that these last 2 scenes seem to sport history’s first CGI enhanced nipples, which react to motion physics differently than the boobs to which they are attached and look like they have been nursed by teething puppies, nothing much to see there either.
Mostly the movie is what its advertised to be, which is Doom with Arabs and Ninjas instead of Zombie Humans and Imps, and just as easily dispatched, with the occasional giant or big animal or freak or wizard thrown in for variety, all mown down like the Orcs in LOTR, pretty much. The white guys get killed in heroic and unique ways, the brown guys are just spear fodder and less than useless, they actually help kill their own guys in various idiot ways, when they aren’t voluntarily jumping off cliffs or running away.
The one criticism I have to kind of admit bothered me is that almost, if not all, of the Persian speaking parts are played by actors who have Negroid features, not Asian or Caucasoid or Semetic (Arab) features, and in fact are real life African-Americans or African-Brits, and all get maimed and/or killed in various gruesome ways by very self-satisfied and gleeful-to-do-it white guys. It just seemed unnecessary and leaving yourself open to charges of pigmentism, or something. Why didn’t anyone, not even Xerxes, look Persian? I realize his empire probably included some Nubian races, but every single general, sage, messanger and speaking part? And then they get hacked up, even when seemingly pretty reasonable? Probably nothing, but it did register with me. Lefties whined about LOTR too because of the forces of “Men” taking over Middle-Earth and freedom flowing in a new age didn’t include obviously Oriental and Arab looking Sauron allies as well as dusky-hued Orcs.
On the other hand, the charges of homo-bashing by Slate critic Dana whatshisname (see below) are way out of line. Xerxes is a little fey, but he’s kind of like the guy in Stargate or one of those boy pharoahs you always see in the movies. Its just his manner, the way he does his eyeshadow and liner is a little bit of a bold statement, but he sure seems macho enough, shit, he’s a fucking god-king of the biggest army and empire on earth, you know the man is having his way with the ladies. He’s probably like Mick Jagger and just gets so much pussy he’s bored and tries new things. How the hell do I know, but he’s not gay and there’s zero gay bashing so get over it.
And no matter how much Dan Savage or Andrew Sullivan would like there to be, there is zero homo-erotic goings on Sparta-side either. These guys are war buddies and are happy to be killing baddies together and that’s about it. Outside of cauterizing each others’ wounds with red-hot spears they don’t even touch much, no fanny pats for good plays or anything, even.
There is a universe of speedos so tight you can see who’s cut and who’s not, but I guess that’s, um, historically accurate. Actually, I can’t explain that one, where the hell are the codpieces for Christ’s sake? Everyone is in a speedo and you can totally see the guy who played Faramir’s dick (that cat survives all total wars, man! must be in his contract). I really could have done without that, it was distracting. Plus, what if your balls fall out of your speedo during combat, or if a particularly sweet kill makes you pop a boner, what then? “Hey guys, wait up, time out, my dong’s come out again!” Well, moving on…
The guy who played Leonidas does his best Russell Crowe as Maximus impression throughout, but he has nowhere near Crowe’s depth (seriously, I think Crowe is a really gifted actor, loved him since RomperStomper). Mostly, except for longing lapses about his wife, he portrays non-stop determination, and not the dogged kind, but defiant, aggressive in your face determination and a complete satisfaction with killing and being killed. He’s totally ok with and welcomes both. This is the most fiercely unapologetic pro-war movie I’ve ever seen, and that includes WWII era propaganda films. Its kinda cool though, after all the whiny, ashamed of defending ourselves against tyranny wussified war movies like “Casualties of War” and crap like that. This is like 300 Rambos, like how Rambo kills 100 Viet Cong easily, one after another, multiply that by 300. Just like that, no problem whatsoever. These are free men fighting against a tyrant who enslaves his thralls. There is a definite line of good and evil here, and that’s one thing the leftoids hate about it. It takes a moral stand and says its not only fine, but demands you kill and perhaps die for it. “Freedom isn’t free” is actually said by a character. Then Janisimus answers “Freedom’s just another word, for nothin’ left to lose” and promptly OD’s. Wait, that’s The Rose.
Right now, Miller is playing it “oh, its not about the Iraq War, its just an action film”, and Dana Asswipe of Shite, I mean Slate, even chides them “how can they not see how this relates to the Iraq War, so blind and irresponsible of them!”- yeah, fucking right. Miller and directer Zack Snyder had no idea. Completely forgot about the fact we’re fighting Arabs and Persians at this precise moment in history and the people at home aren’t completely behind the effort, just like in the movie! What a coincidence, and how obtuse of them not to see it!
Listen, everybody in the country is constantly bombarded by the war and about Arab extremists who want to kill us. Don’t feed me that crap Frank, you knew damn well, and that’s cool, get them all in before coming clean, let’s make this the biggest movie since The Passion and really piss off the wussy liberals.
But make no mistake, Leonidas practically quotes Bush on the reasons for fighting the war. Hell, there’s even a senate dominated by senators who don’t want to support the fighting and want to cut Leonidas off at the knees and abadon the troops at the front. What the fuck does Millar have to do, name them Pelosius and Murthamus? Jesus fuck, the one good senator who supports the war and wants to save the country looks like Abraham fucking Lincoln, with the beard and no moustache and all, the quintessential “good” Republican.
I’m glad to hear the movie is kicking ass at the box-office. However, once the hoopla dies down, you know what Miller should do?
As I was watching it, I was thinking, you know who is going to get the biggest fucking thrill and rush from this movie? Obviously, American (and our allies) service men and women. Frank, take this movie over there YOURSELF, like a roadshow, and let all the G.I.’s see it for free. I dunno, maybe it would piss off the Iraqis, but they don’t much like the Persians anyhow, and they have long memories, I’m pretty sure they aren’t much fond of Xerxes and his armies, who tore up the territory around present-day Iraq.
It would be a huge patriotic boost, it would get people to the cinemas for repeat showings, it would, like The Passion, make a movie a real cultural and influential event, unlike (as much as lefties would love it) Incontinent Fact, or whatever Gorebot’s film is called. Btw, on the subject, Gore is scooping the kudos now, but be sure and check out this really great PBS interview with a real climatologist. Gore will go down in history as a snake oil salesman and end of the worlder chicken little, and damn deserves it. They may think the sun shines out his ass right now, but eventually the global warmage fraud will be exposed. Its a sham. Read the article, its a good’un.
Anyway, 300 is about what its hyped to be, well done, with only a couple risible moments, one where a battle-hardened captain laments he “never told his son he loved him”- sheesh. And some of the non-action segments drag a bit and break the momentum. Just seemed like some tighter editing there would have been better, but that’s just my opinion, my gf disagreed, but sometimes she’s just contrary. I could feel people around me getting restless, like “get on with it already”. But all that said, best movie I’ve seen since The Departed, and that was the best I’d seen in years. Completely different category of course, but as a Sin City type adventure action pic but historical (Neil Cumpston calls it a pre-quel to Sin City in his hilarious review, read it), all in all 300 is well done, very much. I’ll buy it when it comes out on DVD, and I’d see it again if I can make it to the IMAX at the Tampa Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI!) across from USF while its still playing.
Bravo for some really brave film-making, instead of the whiny apologetic Oliver Stone type “I hate my country” screeds. I’m sure glad Miller is on our side, and that means we got fucking Batman, leftwingnut losers. You can have your goofy ass Capt. America. Batman would have kicked his pansy pacifist ass if Bush hadn’t snuffed him first.
Btw, the guy in the ballet playing the king or whatever had one of those mini-capes and tights, looked very much like Robin. I’m serious. Coincidence? Yeah, right, and Spartans squat to piss.