300 (Warner Bros., R)

film_300I have never once walked out on a movie in my entire life, but about five minutes into 300 I regretted coming to see it, and 15 minutes in I would have walked out, if I were the type.

 

 

 

 

About once a year, a movie comes out that I deem as being for suckers, because it seems like it should be good, and maybe even parts of it are good, but on the whole, the movie is a piece of shit that deserves no attention whatsoever. Last year it was The Science of Sleep; one of the bigger ones of years past was 2000's Snatch. They are films that film students who are trying too hard to be cool eat up, that mainstream audiences like for the wrong reasons (things like lots of tits or lots of violence, but not lots of artistic merit). Zack Snyder's greatly anticipated 300, which is based on the graphic novel by Frank Miller (Sin City) of the same name, is already the frontrunner for the biggest suckers' movie of 2007.

Taking elements from the aforementioned Sin City as well as Ridley Scott's Gladiator, 300 is based on the Battle of Thermopylae, which took place in 480 B.C. This time period means that pretty much everyone, male and female (although there is only one female character of note, Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey)), wears practically no clothes, and they run around with swords shouting horrible battle cries and nationalistic nonsense. The leader of the good guys, the Spartans, is King Leonidas (Gerard Butler, who we St. Louisans know from The Game of Their Lives/The Miracle Match), who gets the bulk of the battle cries and shitty one liners laid on his shoulders. Complicating the ridiculously written skeleton of a character that is King Leonidas is the fact that Butler can't even remotely act, so when he's given a line like "Give them nothing, but take from them… EVERYTHING!" he not only can't save it, but somehow accomplishes the seemingly impossible feat of making it sound even stupider than it must have on paper.

In fairness, something that always makes me react more hostilely than I might have otherwise is that 300 was made with a fair amount of talent behind it, which led me to believe going in that it might be a film that I would actually like. Its director, Zack Snyder, is the guy who made the Dawn of the Dead remake back in 2004, which should have been stupid and awful, but was actually pretty good. Although I hadn't read 300 prior to seeing the film (and certainly don't intend to now), I have read several of Frank Miller's graphic novels in the past, and have found them uniformly enjoyable.

I have never once walked out on a movie in my entire life, but about five minutes into 300 I regretted coming to see it, and 15 minutes in I would have walked out, if I were the type. Snyder could not be more over the top or undisciplined than he is here, and he would be hard pressed to find a worse cast (in fairness, I guess they all look the parts, which must've been pretty hard on its own). Now all we can do is hope that the rumors of his next project being a big-screen adaptation of Alan Moore's Watchmen never make it past the "rumors" stage. | Pete Timmermann

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