As a storyteller myself, I appreciated Frank Miller’s 300. Ya see, back in the day before books and whatnot, stories were kept alive by the telling of them. Memorized and passed from generation to generation. 300 is structured like that, where the narrator, one of the Spartan soldiers, is basically telling the audience — the soldiers he’s rallying, the Greek politicians he’s inspiring and you — the tale of the Spartan 300 so that the heroics they performed to stand up for what they believed in will always be remembered. It’s for this reason, I’m guessing, the movie that follows is highly stylized with over-the-top violence, otherworldly creatures and nigh-invulnerable warriors — you’re seeing what listeners of this tale are imagining.
Yes, surprisingly I liked this movie. I was going to dismiss it for all that squirty violence and apparent style over substance but it was actually pretty durn good. Worth braving opening-night crowds for. Of course I can see why all the teenage boys in the theater (with their parents in tow) loved it, too. All that testosterone on the screen, battle scenes set to rock music and the occasional boob shot. What’s not to love? But in there, too, animated with “force and vigor,” were non-wimpy characters, actual plot lines and a history lesson. I’m not saying it’s the next Gladiator because it is pretty entertaining, heh, but it’s worth seeing on the big screen.
But I did love that there were no wimps in this movie; at least where you expect to find ’em. For example, Queen Gorgo didn’t act like a typical girl character — no crying or being bullied around or falling down helpless. Not this lady. I think that surprised everyone in the audience, too, as some of us felt inspired to clap for her in one scene. And, yes, it was that kind of movie.
On many occasions, dotsara and I found ourselves reacting rather loudly to what was transpiring on the screen. We could only point helplessly to an approaching horseman over the shoulder of one unsuspecting Spartan and shout, “Behind you!” Of course that did him no good in the end but whatev. However we did surprise ourselves by getting that into it.
There were the occasional “wtf?” scenes, like the “love” scene which seemed so out of place to me. Is the narrator supposed to be telling that part to his audience? “Oh yes, King Leonidas was so virile!” Yeah, it wasn’t so much a love scene as it was a fuck scene treated like a love scene if that makes sense. Well, if you see it you’ll know what I mean. Not to make a big deal out of it since it was short. Just sayin’. Anyhoo, moving on…
Those two hours actually flew by for me. And here I thought I was going to be stuck watching nothing but blood, guts, gore and more of the same. When actually I learned that if I kept my eyes fixed at the bottom of the screen during the battle scenes, I could still sorta enjoy them without getting an eyeful. And there was more to the movie than what was happening on the battlefield.
After the movie as everyone was walking out of the theater, the teenage boys bounded out the theater doors yelling, “Sparr-taaaa!” Nerds, yes. But that’s how I felt, too, just suppressed it is all. How could I not feel that same surge of empowerment, strength or inspiration after watching a movie about one of history’s famous last stands? Just this little army of guys in nothing but red capes and black speedos against a legion of circus freaks? Awesome!