I lied. Sparta is for fighters. I found this out while watching "300", the most recent film adaptation of a Frank Miller graphic novel which chronicles the Battle of Thermopylae. We follow the story of King Leonidas, who's upbringing tells us that growing up Spartan is really tough. Why, even preconceived babies are denied umbilical chords and forced to survive off amniotic fluid and the occassional stem cell before birth. Then the young warriors are beaten up by their fathers for a couple hours a day and plopped on a mountainside in the middle of winter with nary a Land's End cardigan. It gets worse: your voice changes, you get hair in places its never been and your face resembles something like a Little Caesar's pizza.
The movie is very entertaining and action packed. The fight scenes are beautifully hypnotic and incredibly graphic. I was much more aware of the violence in movies like "Braveheart" or "Saving Private Ryan", two films that displayed death and dismemberment in a matter of fact "this is how it happens" way. 300's use of hi-speed and ultra slo-motion camera work made the more gruesome blows seem graceful, like a fine ballet. Its a process that works, thankfully... because the battles make up about 95% of the film. That being said, the movie is not without its faults... which I'll share with you now in a piece I call, "300 Things I Hated About 300." Enjoy!
1. Aristodemus is the "missing an eye" narrator, also known as Faramir from Lord of the Rings, who decided to speak his lines as if he were my grandfather. Watch this, and mid-way through you'll hear an old codger sing "He faced the galloping hordes." That's how this guys talks through the WHOLE picture.
2. When casting the role of Malian Ephialtes, the deformed Spartan who betrays his kin by helping the Persians, they decided to use Sloth from the Goonies.
3. Frank Miller's dialog doesn't transfer very well to film. In fact, when spoken out loud by a professional like James Earl Jones, the dialog would still be cornier than an ear of corn, on a corn stalk in a corn field somewhere in Corn-onia.
4. Upon leaving the theater, I thought how some American troops might latch onto this film and use it as inspiration for the War in Iraq. But then I realized if anything, the 300 Spartans represent the small band of Al Qaida terrorists that are PWNING the U.S. Military.
5. The original graphic novel had the Spartans completely naked except for their helmets, shields and red cloaks. Having seen numerous nipples and breasts in the film, I felt my girlfriend was robbed of an opportunity to see Spartan dong.
6. The Spartan King is played by Gerard Butler and he looks like this. Um, I don't think so. Even with facial hair, this guy looks nothing like the Leonidas in the film. I was under the impression that Smiley from "Training Day", Cliff Curtis, played the Spartan King. What the F' is going on here...?
7. Apparently, the film is really racist towards Persians. Do those guys still exist...? I have a Persian rug, and it seems nice enough. Maybe the use of Persian goon squad monster thingers was a bit over the top.
8.There's this really jacked old guy who helps the Spartan Queen gain audience with the council so she can get her hubby some backup. Before I saw the film, I read in a review that the Queen bangs this politician to help out her husband. I kept dreading the point in the movie where this really nice old guy slips off his cloak and does the deed, but then it ended up being this whole other politician. And on top of that, the reviewer tells us of that this adulterous subplot isn't even in the graphic novel the movie is based on. It begs the question, "Wouldn't a Spartan rather die in battle than have their Queen take it hard from some crooked(not in the pants) council member?" E'gads.
9. Sin City and 300 are fun, above and beyond most comic book cinematic abominations (Ghostrider). But I fear that with continued success, Hollywood is going to make movies out of everything Frank Miller has ever done, including that short graphic novel he made about his son learning to go number 2 on the potty.
10-300. The trailer for Spiderman 3 preceded "300" and I must say that Tobey Maguire's portrayal of Peter Parker makes me want to bash myself in the face with something blunt. And the CGI is deplorable with effects even worse than that of the first two movies. I'd rather have stop motion animation of the Krakken from "Clash of the Titans" than what we have here. Oh, and apparently the Sandman killed Uncle Ben, not the thief from the original film (and comics). Yeah, and it turns out that Uncle Ben is a black man who's good at cooking rice. Where do you come up with this stuff, Raimi?