Monday, March 12, 2007

March 12, 2007
We showed up at Deer Valley 30 at 1:10 yesterday for the 1:30 IMAX showing of 300, but every show was sold out until 10:30 Sunday night, so we took the 2 PM regular screen showing.

Mark Boardman and I then walked over to Claim Jumper for a bite (Caesar salad and iced tea, $13 plus $3 tip), then walked back over and found a full house in the regular theatre for the 2 PM showing.

I was not disappointed. The CGI is spectacular, and the sweep is epic. As one of the critics has said, it's "uberstylization" and the end result is a hyper-realism that is breathtaking. When the Persian advance team rides across the Greek tundra, they are a thundering mass of sweeping horseflesh, unlike anything I have ever seen (in fact the movie horses are much more dramatic than Miller's drawn version, however, it's obvious they were emulating his exact sequence). Since I read Miller's graphic novel of 300 last weekend I recognized all of the plot points and most of the dialogue and the set pieces. Virtually all of them are religiously lifted directly from the GN. However, the movie makers have added an entire sidebar on Leonides' wife Gorgo (the beautiful and sexy Lena Headey) that lifts generously from Homer, or, as another critic put it, "an outtake from the HBO series Rome."

And speaking of sex, the movie has a much more explicit angle on nubile femmes than the GN, and here again it's much more, ahem, entertaining. There is an irony though. I mentioned earlier that the story and the movie are not new and that those old Steve Reeves movies had the formula down with the three Bs: Big biceps, big battles and big breasts. While the movie has the first two (some would say with a heavy dose of steroids), there are not big breasts. In fact, the ones that are flashed in slow mo, no less, are quite petite, but that probably says more about breast augmentation than anything else. And by the way, isn't that an odd twist on our culture, that big breasts would end up connotating "fake"? hmmmmm.

One of the critic's comments rings true: "To cast the Spartans, the producers must have emptied all the health clubs in Hollywood." (Bill Muller, Arizona Republic)

The historic battle ready Spartans evidently resembled beetles more than the cape and shield version worn here, but it is about style, not historic accuracy and on that account, the movie looks to be a blockbuster. It grossed $70 million this weekend and the buzz is off the charts.

I think this heralds a new genre of films and perhaps Sin City (Miller's first GN to movie metamorphosis) will be The Great Train Robbery of our era.

"More than any other historical epoch, our sense of reality is severely challenged. It is the internet, Photoshop, digital effects in cinema, video games—tools that have arrived with instant impact. It is like warfare. For centuries, warfare was the same: the medieval knight with a sword in combat. Suddenly he was confronted with firearms and overnight was never the same. It is now a moment of the same magnitude for us."
—Werner Herzog, in Esquire

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