Saturday, August 4, 2007

I love movies. I adore movies.. To that end, I think I'll starting posting movie reviews here from time to time. I'll start with this one. It's a bit older, but it's one I've already got lying around.

Movie Review: Frank Miller's "300"
Before I say anything else, this is NOT a historic account of the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 B.C. You want to see history? Go get The Civil War by Ken Burns. That's an accurate historical documentary. This isn't even BASED off the historic Battle of Thermopylae. This is based on a graphic novel based off an old movie based off someone else's loose retelling of the Battle of Thermopylae. Add in the fact that it's Frank Miller's graphic novel, and well.. it's not for everyone.

That said, and out of the way...

Frank Miller has a beautiful style. It's not always the most genial of subject fairs, but it is always beautiful and compelling. Zack Snyder and Kurt Johnstad did an excellent job of transferring the comic to screen. Each scene of the movie feels as though you are gazing at the composition of a page. The artistic integrity of the movie is really gorgeous. The drawing of imagery from sources such as Greg Schilhab, the use of contrast and color tinting.. the minute detailing on ALL the characters is just breathtaking. The villain, King Xerxes, is a masterpiece of movie manipulation. His size, his movements, the timbre of his voice, really accent the fact that this man believes himself to be a god. If you liked the special effects of LOTR, this movie delivers in spades.. The elephants (mastadon would be a better word), the creatures, the oddities.. This movie really is a feast for the eyes.
It is also very bloody and violent. There is one scene where the camera pans with one soldier slow motion as the persian army hit like a wave upon the spartans. It is one of the best choreographed scenes, with fluidity and grace I have ever seen. It is also one of the bloodiest. I don't think I've ever seen a decapitation in slow motion before..

Dialogue is not for the faint of heart. It's perhaps not as flowing as it could be, but Miller was really trying to convey the weight of epicness. It smacks of Shakespeare.

King Leonidas: "My heart is broken for your loss."
Captain: "Heart? I have filled my heart with hate."
King Leonidas: "Good."

I could be deep here and discuss the poignant nod to the ancient greek idea of perfection in man. (all the heroes are perfectly sculpted man-gods and all the villains are mutated deformities putting the elephant man to shame). I could draw comparisons of this being much like Shakespeare in it's tone and style, because after all, Shakespeare wrote entertaining raunchy stuff for the masses. I could digress upon the ethical ideology of better to die a free man than rule in slavery (Xerxes offers Leonidas a job) or the pushing of a love story behind the scenes complete with betrayal (it's there.) but that would detract from the real reason to see this movie.

It's entertaining. It's primal. It affects that part of you that wants to see the good guy punish the bad guy against all odds. I use the word punish there for a reason. It's not just the good guy triumphing.. because that doesn't happen. He doesn't triumph. But he makes the stronger and more evil pay for his villainy, with body counts, blood and sweat. And just as it's a joy to watch a good martial arts movie for the fight scenes, it's a joy to watch the battle scenes and the one-line bantering between characters.

Xerxes: "Yours is a fascinating tribe. There is much our cultures could share."
King Leonidas: "Perhaps you haven't noticed, but we've been sharing our culture with you all morning."

All in all, well worth seeing.

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MIHY Old stuffs