May 25, 2016 § Leave a comment
Historical epic films have come a long way since the silent era and despite taking few to more liberties, it’s a notable genre that makes audiences and critics interested in any part of history and how it happened. But lately, the genre has taken a different tone when it went from being grand-scale with practical effects and rich acting to CGI orgies and downright stupid decisions. And one might say that the fault of it is Oliver Stone’s Alexander but in my guess, I think Zack Snyder’s adaptation of 300 sealed that deal more since think about it, name one movie in recent times that cashes in on this. You can’t find one, can you?
And who to blame other than Zack for this new take of genre than comic writer and artist himself Frank Miller himself. Now he is influential at the start and I have read Dark Knight Returns and few issues his run on Daredevil to see it but following Sin City, he start going downhill with such divisive works as All-Star Batman and Robin and Holy Terror!. I have read those as well and yeah, I can see why it’s not good. He even try his hands on directing by taking Will Eisner’s The Spirit character and turn it into nothing but one hero’s hardcore love for the city, Samuel L. Jackson wearing a Nazi uniform and well… This!
Above all that, 300 is one work that belongs in “Post-Insanity Frank Miller” era and it’s easy to see why. As narrated by Dilios (David Wenham), the story told about the rise and fall of Sparta’s king Leonidas (Gerard Butler) who decide to go to war against the Persians as lead by Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) after a few sets of threats. With him and soldiers that’s either Spartans or Arcadians, they travel and fought against their enemies even by ultra-violent and graphic means with the story ending with all but Dilios fallen to the battle and Dilios deciding to lead more soldiers which is left told in a sequel I haven’t yet seen.
And that’s the whole movie in a nutshell. Sure, there is subplot involving Leonidas’ wife Gorgo (Lena Headey) facing her own dilemma in Sparta and Ephialtes (Andrew Tiernan) changing sides after being rejected by Leonidas but is it really worth mentioning anyway. Taking shot-for-shot adaptation aspect that started with Sin City with few additions added for this film, Zack had done a good visually take on the mini-series and some acting can be taken from granted like Dominic West’s villainous turn as Theoron and pre-famed Michael Fassbender is hypnotic as Stelios. Then again, he’s hypnotic in other movies anyway and uh, I have a man crush on him!
But are there faults to this? Oh yeah because I once liked this movie back when it was released but came to hate it thanks to it being the starting catalyst of what I called the “Brostorical Epic” genre which uses historical epics and gave it a adrenaline rush with style over substance and massive male-dominated aspect which is later seen in Immortals, Pompeii and the upcoming re-adaptation of Ben Hur. Sure, you can throw in a female or two in there but really, this is now historical epic made for bro-centric audience who thinks shirtless fighting guys are awesome and kick-ass.
Another fault is of course Frank Miller and I already brought up on him a bit. Granted, he did know its history since he’s a fan of The 300 Spartans and there’s a DVD featurette which explained why some is accurate to real life so he is not half-assing it. But given his views on Sin City and Holy Terror! when it comes to woman, race and so on, he turned a notable event in history and used his controversial motifs big time. Now to keep this in mind, it’s kind of a expanded adaptation with Zack as one of the co-writers and a little has been changed from the source material. It doesn’t help that a scene involving Gorgo getting butt-fucked by Theoron is not in the book since Theoron is part of the few movie additions. If you think about it, this is the kind of level that gets a massive criticism from SJWs in a similar way as adding rape sequences in Game of Thrones.
Lastly, the acting is cheesy and hammy especially from Gerard, David and Rodrigo. In fact, Rodrigo is the best part of the hammy acting more so than the one who gave us the infamous “This is Sparta” meme. And at times, I may give credit to the visual style but it’s also distracting since it felt like I’m watching a post-apocalyptic nightmare than something that exists in the past. And yeah, Zack is all about the color scheme in his movies but this really looks like a movie where its print has been pissed by somebody in the editing room and wiped it out to make it look like it. Mind you, the comics are using that color style as well but the comic book is at least artistic and well-done so translating it to film form… only works if it’s animated.
That being said, I don’t know if I’ll recommend the movie. Despite not liking it now, I can watch it for the hilarious homoerotic overtones because hey, I like A Nightmare On Elm Street II and The Lost Boys even with these overtones after all but as a distorted action-packed historical flick, those last six words are the exact reason why Pearl Harbor divided audience big time so I give it a no on this one. Before I finish up, I should explain that I’m taking a minor break on Snyder movies because I am planning something different next month and while one or two “nostalgia lookback” reviews is involved (depending on my timing), next month is a theme that involves three movies (and something extra) that I liked and I won’t spoil you much but it is related to a commemorative month.