The Michigan Daily -Orientation Edition 2007 15
By JEFFREY BLOOMER
Mar. 12, 2007 - In "300," life
is good. The men are as pictur-
esque as their surroundings,
throwing their beefy vigor into
carrying on their bloodline and
annihilating people with dark
complexions. Their equally
fetching female counterparts
have long, wavy hair and really,
really hard nipples. Spartan
women are the only in the world
who can birth "real men," we're
told, and based on the scenery,
there's not much room for argu-
ment. These are the people of
Frank Miller's Sparta: They eat,
they sleep, they fuck, they kill.
This may sound appealing to
some viewers, but keep in mind
that we're spectators, not par-
ticipants. And that's the problem
with "300": It's a tease. I could
talk about how this isn't really
filmmaking. I could go on about
the movie's unabashed celebra-
tion of eugenics and bigotry and
violence. Frankly, I'd be fronting.
This world is so laughably simple
that those concerns slip away in
favor of a more urgent one: This
aggressive and exuberantly stu-
pid spectacle purports to get the
audience off, but it's all hot air.
There's no fire here, no heat, and
in the end the whole thing turns
into a frigid parade of limbs and
egos mutilated beyond repair.
Come on. We couldn't run just
one review of '300.' Instead,
we let two stubborn film
critics go at it. They're still
breathing - we think.
The film has some stunning
sights, and director Zack Sny- By PAUL TASSI
der, who previously made the DailyFilmEditor
rather good "Dawn of the Dead"
remake, does an epic slow-mo. Mar. 12, 2007 - "300" is an action picture stripped of
What I would have appreciated a complex plot, multi-layered characters and historical
is a few less deformed lesbians accuracy. While that might cripple most movies, we find
and a little more about the intri- that in "300" such things would only take away from a
cacies of these people's world. film in which the focus is on aesthetic value alone. The
The camera lingers aimlessly on film speaks to themes of loyalty, honor and duty, but no
every lastgold-plated, gemstone- one bought a ticket to see "themes," they came to see a
encrusted battle ensemble, but battle. And the fighting itself is so beautiful and well-
all the film can offer from our orchestrated it carries the movie.
hero (Gerard Butler) is flippant An adaptation of Frank Miller's graphic novel, the
self-righteousness when any- movie tells of the Battle of Thermopylae, where 300
one dares challenge his FREE- doomed yet fiercely patriotic Greek soldiers fight
DOM! That pundits have drawn against a massive army of Persians. Leading the Spar-
comparisons between the film tans is King Leonidas (Gerard Butler, "Phantom of the
and the Bush administration in Opera"), a man without fear, guilt or the ability to talk
that vein is a testament to how without yelling.
utterly banal it is: It could apply With the unreal athleticism of a gymnastic lineback-
to any era of U.S. history. There's er, KingLeonidas barrels throughthousandsofPersians
nothing to it. with a body so rock solid he doesn't even need armor.
"300" has elsewhere been lik- Unlike previous onscreen warriors, he suffers from no
ened to gay porn, but fortunately moral conflicts or character flaws. He has a problem - a
for its commercial prospects, the million Persians encroaching on his country's freedom
homoeroticism remains merely - and he has a solution: kill every single one of them.
suggested - although I suspect And how he does this is the sole reason everyone paid
the movie will have more lon- to see this movie.
gevity as hard-breathing camp The Persian army he faces is a cross between the
than as a battle epic. Whatever Ores from "Lord of the Rings" and a three-ring circus
the case, no one who goes to troupe. They are led by the god-king Xerxes (Rodrigo
this movie will be disappoint- Santoro, TV's "Lost"), a monstrous nine-foot-tall giant
ed, exactly, just conspicuously who looks like an gender-bending version of Dhalsim
unmoved. For all the body parts from "Street Fighter." He throws everything he has at
that go flying in "300," the one the Spartans who dice through his army in exception-
from which the film could most ally choreographed sequences where everyone appears
benefit, a heart, is not in sight. tobe constantly fighting in zero gravity.
Our dear Spartans will be yelling Each fight sequence is engineered to give you chills
until the end of time, but before as a hundred thousand arrows literally eclipse the
long there will be no one left to sun or an entire legion of Persians is forced off a cliff
listen. by advancing Spartans. Slow-motion prevails through
In "300," falling over a cliff is a mercilu death.
most of the film, and coupled with haunting CGI land-
scapes, gives the film a gorgeously surreal, dreamlike
Dominic West (TV's "The Wire") as the slimy politi-
cian Theron swipes scenes as he shows the devilishly
handsome face of betrayal, while .Andrew Tiernan
("The Pianist") as the disfigured Spartan, Ephialtes,
is a Judas whose appearance more accurately reflects
his soul. The Queen (Lena Hadley, "The Cave") brings
a much-needed reasonable voice to a movie dominated
by the hyper-masculine logic of impaling all your prob-
lems with a spear, although by the end of the film even
she resorts to such tactics.
Most of the dialogue in the film is some rearrang-
ing of the words "fight," "glory," "honor" and of course
"SPARTA!" but each line is delivered with such fear-
some conviction that nearly all cheesiness is stripped
away by sheer blunt force. The constant narration
provided by the last remaining Spartan continually
reminds the audience theyare indeed watching a comic
book come to life.
A movie like "300" is not going to be embraced by
some critics who will dismiss it as a masochistic fan-
boy fantasy, but the audiences exiting the theaters will
surely disagree. The movieis a two-hour extensionofits
hypnotizing trailer, which is what most people have in
mind. It's the kind of film that is made for the fans, not
the critics, and by putting every carnal desire known to
man on display, it does not disappoint. It may be unfair
for a film to use such massive overdoses of adrenaline to
arouse an audience's emotions, but "300" does it none-
theless to great success.