Just got back from seeing the late, late showing of "300" a little while ago... It rocked! It rocked hard! I thoroughly enjoyed it, and so did my dear friends, Zinzi, Laura and Maria. And I just might need to see it again. (Very annoyingly, the theater would not take the free ticket that I got with my "Alexander Revisited" DVD... It's a mainstream, nationwide theater chain, but it won't take the free pass. They suck... but I still have a free ticket, if I can find a theater which will accept it.) I won't give major spoilers - if you want them, just look up "Battle of Thermopylae" in a search engine and you'll find out how it all turns out - although, the point is not how it ends, but the journey that gets them there. It was magnificently done, imho. (I deal with stylized history well, rather than when movie-makers claim they've done everything accurately, and yet I, a non-expert, can still find obvious and even blatant mistakes.) It was grotesque and exquisite, and I adored it.
Also, I was pleasantly surprised to see David Wenham in it. He played Faramir in "The Lord of the Rings Trilogy" and the side-kick friar guy in "Van Helsing." He was great... He plays the narrator of the movie, but his character is also actually there at Thermopylae too.
Oh and... This might be really obvious and not at all unexpected, but I have to say it anyway... All the Spartan guys in the movie run around for the *entire* two hours in leather briefs with the occasional sword belt, helmet and/or cloak. The scenery is very pretty.
LOL! I have to share this... After leaving the theater my friend Zinzi, who is herself partially of Phoenician decent (which isn't Persian, I know, but she likes to think that it's all the same thing), commented on all the pretty Persian women in Xerxes' harem, asking if we had noticed them. I said, "Not really, I was a bit distracted by all the half-dressed Greeks, who were ripped like Jesus, running around." She just laughed, in a isn't-Rachael-silly-to-only-notice-the-hot-guys kind of way. But Maria and Laura looked at me like I had two heads and laughed because of that. They had apparently never heard this turn of phrase before: ripped like Jesus. Dear Laura went so far as to say something like "Yeah, Rachael, when I think Jesus, I think of how buff he might have been" (read that sarcastically). Well, I said, I didn't make up the phrase, it's legitimate slang, I'd just never had occasion to use it before because I'd never in my life seen so many men who one could say were... ripped like Jesus... cause they *so* are in this movie. Zinzi backed me up, laughing that neither Laura nor Maria had ever heard that before, and added something like, "Haven't you all ever noticed in all the art? He's always got six-pack abs and impressive arms and everything?" Apparently, that's not the first thing they notice when they look at a classically figured crucifix. Go figure... But to prove this, in case there was any doubt, I looked up the phrase at the "Urban Dictionary". It says and I quote, "1. Ripped like Jesus: someone that is buff, strong, cut, Jesus was a carpenter and was probably really strong. 'Damn, that man is ripped like Jesus.'" See, didn't make it up. Legitimate slang. I would like to point out that the guys in this movie are so impressively built that five minutes later when we reached my car, and I think I asked something about the actress playing Leonides' wife, because I'd seen her before in another movie, but I couldn't remember where (she was in "The Brothers Grimm" and "Merlin"), I'm pretty sure that Laura said, "There was someone other than Gerard Butler's abs in that movie?" And we laughed. She said this without realizing what she had said I think... I think she had only meant to say "someone other than Gerard Butler," but ah well, her meaning was felt anyway.
If you want to stay out of the politics, skip down to "Spoiler Space."
Some might say that this movie has all kinds of political implications for modern Americans right now, since a major issue is trying to get support for a war that the majority of Spartans think is ill-fated (re: the "surge" that Bush wants to try right now). Well, see that all you want, I suppose, but I don't wish to see it that way at all. I say that that to do so is just projection on the part of the audience. I say, it's merely coincidence that "300" is being released right now, closely coinciding with what's going on with Bush's little plans for world domination because this movie has been in the works for longer than the Iraq War has been going on (script drafting, green-lighting, financing, casting, crew assembly, filming, editing, etc. must have taken longer than 4 years beginning to end), and I'm sure the graphic novel on which it is based has been around even longer (although, I haven't checked). That said, the Spartans are represented fairly well considering the extremes of their culture, so different from our own... Their mentality *maybe* reminds just a little tiny bit of modern Jarheads (especially if you've seen the movie "Jarheads"... they say "hoo-ha" or something like it *a lot* in "300" too), if I choose to see it that way (which, mostly, I don't). And "300" does have interesting points to make about patriotism, valour and sacrifice for one's country, but these are themes I would hope most Americans can appreciate to some degree whether in war or peace, since we are a country by the people and for the people and purportedly a free one at that, built by people who loved this country and what it is, was and could be, and what it's supposed to stand for so much that they fought and died for it and for all of us, their fellow citizens (wow! this is a run-on sentence, but I'm too tired to fix it). This is the mythos on which we, as Americans, have been raised, have we not? It is an expression (not *the* expression, but *an* expression) of our patriotic ideal, is it not? I can't see how any American could object to that - it's merely supporting our soldiers and our veterans, something I think we're duty bound to do, whether we agree with the purpose or actions of a war they fight/fought in or not.
And furthermore, the Iraq War can't really be completely equated with Thermopylae, because if it were... well, dears, I'm very, very sad to say (heart-broken, as a matter of fact) that if that's the case, we share more in common with the Persians in that conflict than we do the Spartans, and we don't want to be the Persians in that movie. Really, we don't... They aren't the good guys and they don't win in the end (you remember "Alexander," right?). So no, 'tis better to watch "300" as a general, non-specific kick-ass war movie with lots of blood (lots and *lots* of blood... rivers of it...) and excellent special effects, loosely based on an historical event and not meant to directly reflect on anything going on at the moment... but if you must say it has something to do with modern America, please say that it tells us that we should love and give all support to our troops, even if we disagree with what some of them do (Abu Garib) and with what our "elected" leaders have them doing.
::sighs:: And I tried not to get too political in this assessment... I really wanted to leave it out, but now that that's written I just can't erase it all. Although, I'm refusing to say anything more about my conflicting feelings over the actions of our president, George the Unready (bonus points if you get why I think that's a really appropriate title), in dealing with all issues around and within the Iraq War... 'cause my feelings do conflict with each other in these matters and I'd really just rather focus on the pretty half-naked men in "300" than these other issues right now... That said, on to the spoiler space.
'Cause I can't help myself, I have to comment...
There were these two guys in the movie (two of the Spartans obviously because the Persian armies were basically a grotesque faceless mass of orcs [no, really, they kinda looked like orcs when their masks came off])... I was so hoping that they would live because they were flirting very cutely for the entire time they were on screen together... maybe three incidents comprising four or five minutes of screen time all together, tops. Some people might call it "banter," but I say what they were doing, *that* was flirting, my friends... Ancient Greek warriors... that was definitely flirting...
One of them was Astinos... He was the son of the captain of the king's guard, and it was his first battle (for which he was very well prepared, I must say I was impressed) and the other guy wasn't much older, but a little... He was Stelios, one of Leonides' best warriors, and he's the one who does a lot of the really cool things in the trailer (he does that jump through the air to strike at one of the Persians and he's the one protecting himself with a shield while fiery bits of shrapnel are raining down on the Spartans.) Neither of them lived, and I was very sad to see them go. ::sniffle, sniffle::
::the *real* spoilers are below::
And I don't see why Astinos had to die when he did... everything went into slow motion as one of the Persians came up out of the mist on a horse and chopped his head off... Honestly! Stelios had speared a charging rhinoceros a few minutes earlier and killed it dead (With one spear! That's an awesome arm there, yo!), but he couldn't grab another spear and get the guy on the horse before he reached them? Because he totally could have... he was standing at Astinos' shoulder when it happened and the entire Spartan army saw the Persian guy coming from mile away, except for Astinos, who turned too late at the last minute... Bummed me out, I tell you.
But still, I was quite happy with the movie. ;D