In ancient Greece, 300 Spartans (and 6,700 allies) hold off tens of thousands
of Persians at the legendary battle of Thermopylae.
What I Thought
Well now. I got that 'and 6,700 allies' number off Leonidas' Wikipedia entry
(he was the Spartan king). I would be pretty miffed that this movie wasn't
called '7,000' instead of '300' if I was them. Any descendants from the battle
2,500 years ago should sue. I'm just sayin'.
The wiki on the "Battle of Thermopylae" only mention the 300 Spartans plus
700 Thespians. It's very confusing. I think this scandal needs a Congressional
investigation to find out the right number. There's so much misinformation on it
that it's making the Pentagon jealous... I'm just sayin'.
The movie was adapted from the Frank Miller comic book (he also did Sin City),
which was adapted from the legend. It's basically a 2 hour comic book with lots
of beautiful visual imagery with very little storyline.
What storyline there is, is simple: Small group of soldiers go to stop the
Persians. A tiny sub-plot with Leonidas' wife holding the fort back in Sparta.
Big battle. That's it.
Given that there's very little going on story wise, they better give us some
action and visuals! And on these items, the movie does not disappoint.
The whole movie is shot in a very rich sepia tone (think of a golden haze on
everything), giving each scene such a wonderful texture, enhanced by the crimson
cloaks of the Spartan soldiers. Each scene seems made for a comic book and
almost every frame can be made into a postcard or movie poster with plenty
(almost too many!) slow-motion "heroic" scenes with artful poses.
Additional eye candy for the ladies and 10% of the gents with the supernaturally
awesome abs and chiseled bodies on the Spartans. I really didn't know the Speedo
was invented in ancient Sparta, movies are so informative that way. You know, I
could have looked like that if I had only taken up the offer my university's
crew coach extended my Freshman year! Instead here I am sitting on my
office-chair butt, though at least I found a great pair of True Religion jeans
to show it off. But still, I'd rather have the chiseled abs rather than the
Anyway. So the movie looks and feels gorgeous with great music to boot. The
dialogue is unfortunately clunky. After all, it did come from a comic book, and
sounds as such. But given the mythological bent of the movie (in fact, the
Persian army certainly includes some monster-types) that can be forgiven.
Finally, a big warning to those who are weak-stomached. There is plenty of blood
and gore and brutality in this movie. Lots of arms getting chopped off, heads
rolling, and people split in two, IN SLOW MOTION. In other words, a perfect
comic-book movie for the 16 year old demographic. So be warned.
I liked this movie. It was exactly what I expected, especially knowing the
storyline and my experience in Sin City. Maybe other people not so much. I could
see someone saying too gory, too boring, slow-moving, and too cheesy. All I do
is refer them back to the fact that this came from a comic book.
Finally, I have to mention the thing other reviewers kept bringing up, which is
the homophobic/homoerotic undertones of the movie. You see, the Spartans (i.e.,
the "good guys") are all manly and such and look down on Athenian "boy lovers"
(even though historical Sparta had a huge tradition of pederasty and acceptable
homosexuality so I would say this comment is very tongue-in-cheek) and the "bad
guys" are led by Xerxes, a body-pierced (his face alone has about 30 piercings!)
and effeminate emperor with a court made up of lesbians and amputees (don't
The reviewers shoot themselves in the foot b/c the movie is *both* slightly
homophobic AND homoerotic so clearly there's some irony going on here that the
reviewers are missing, that the movie appears to pander to the superhero macho
stereotype and at the same time winks at gay culture by having the supposedly
homophobic Spartans run around in speedos and perfect abs. Clearly, (CLEARLY I
say!) those reviewers understand neither the "17 year old comic book reader
demographic" nor the subtext of the last 50 years of comic books.