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Saturday, March 10, 2007

300 is a film of sheer manliness

300 poster

Just came back from seeing 300, which is based on Frank Miller's graphic novel that I haven't read.

One thing I have to say first is that, never, in my life, have I seen so much gore and (almost) nudity escaping the Malaysian Censorship Board. I mean, women in see-through robes, exotic dancers who are barely, well, concealed, decapitated heads and limbs, fountains of blood splashing around etc. All right, I'm guessing that violent and gory parts managed to get through because it's stylized and cartoonish, but other than that... well, it's funny that this can get through and not Amir Muhammad's two documentaries, LELAKI KOMUNIS TERAKHIR (THE LAST COMMUNIST) and APA KHABAR ORANG KAMPUNG (VILLAGE PEOPLE RADIO SHOW)

(Note to self: A possible future film project for myself. Malaysia's version of THIS FILM IS NOT YET RATED.)

Anyway, I digress. The film is based on Frank Miller's graphic novel about the Battle of Thermopylae, where a small Spartan force (I doubt I have to tell you the exact amount of soldiers they had) led by King Leonidas managed to hold back a much-larger Persian army at a narrow canyon, allowing the rest of Greece to prepare for the invasion.

Of course, while it's based on a historical event, I seriously doubt that it's meant to be historically accurate, considering the giant rhinos and elephants (nearly as big as the ones in RETURN OF THE KING), along with goat-headed musicians, ninjas and samurais that appeared in the film. 300 is like, ah, LORD OF THE RINGS TRILOGY + GLADIATOR + MATRIX + SIN CITY, although, in my opinion, this film is not as good as the aforementioned films (I left out the MATRIX sequels). However, it is pretty stylish and visually stunning. I'm just saying this because, like SIN CITY, it is shot mostly with bluescreen to imitate the looks of the graphic novel, it has nice battle scenes similar to (but not better than) the last two LORD OF THE RINGS films (besides, Faramir himself, David Wenham, is in this movie), it is pretty tragic and has some kind of a (sort of) love story between Leonidas (Gerard Butler) and his wife Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey, who is going to play Sarah Connor in the upcoming Terminator TV series) that reminded me of GLADIATOR's melancholic poetry, oh, and the slow-mo/ fast-mo in the fighting scenes reminded me of MATRIX.

naked sweaty men in 300There's really not much to say about this film. I enjoyed it, I find it entertaining, and the manly coolness in the film was more amusing than rousing to me, so I don't think it's really the flawless masterpiece many are making it to be (I doubt I'll be watching this over and over again), nor am I going to recommend this highly to any Tom, Dick and Harry I meet, but the graphics are cool, the action scenes are nice and it's pretty campy. While the guys will love it for the action, gals will enjoy the sight of the sweaty, half-naked, muscular manly men bellowing and fighting so manfully. (some critics compared it to gay porn, I wouldn't know since I never made a point to watch one myself)

In fact, my little sister felt that the film was just like CURSE OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER, but for women.

Although I do wonder whether it is a good thing for filmmakers to adapt so faithfully from their source materials instead of finding other ways to maximize the film medium itself. I mean, Stanley Kubrick had done numerous film adaptations from novels, but he seemed more willing to explore the possibilities of cinema instead of sticking too closely to the novels, which, in my opinion, made 2001: THE SPACE ODYSSEY and CLOCKWORK ORANGE so good. I want to say the same about Peter Jackson's adaptation of LORD OF THE RINGS too, I seriously believe that the films wouldn't be that good if he actually tried to follow the books word-by-word (Boromir will be underdeveloped, and die a less dramatic death, Tom Bombadil will be there to mess up the film's pacing with his constant singing). I also think that some of the finest comic-book adaptations are those that didn't follow the comics too closely, like SPIDER-MAN 2 and BATMAN BEGINS. If Martin Scorsese had chosen to do a frame-by-frame remake of INFERNAL AFFAIRS, believe me, it would SERIOUSLY suck.

So, what do you people think?

300 trailer