There's a reason Frank Miller is so highly
regarded within the comic book community. For starters, he has a visual
style that is compelling and unique, and so very eye-catching. But the
thing about Frank is he also knows how to tell a story. It's all one
cohesive package too. The visuals and storytelling flow within each
other to take the reader into another world entirely, and usually one we'd
never expect. It's familiar but yet so very different. My
initiation to Miller, like many people, came from reading THE DARK KNIGHT
RETURNS. With that story Frank managed to turn the Batman we all knew so
well completely on it's head, and delivered a shocking story that in many ways
changed the face of comics. It was disturbing. It was intense.
It was totally unexpected. And it was exactly what the comic book
industry needed. Miller mixed things up, and folks took notice.
Then he slaps up in the face with SIN CITY, a creator-owned project through
Dark Horse Comics, taking film noir detective movies of yesteryear and
modernizing it on paper. The brutality and hard boiled writing within
those stories once again shocked readers in a good way. It was edgy and
brilliant, and oddly enough no one else had been bold enough to do it.
Then came 300. This was perhaps the most unexpected storyline to ever
come out of Frank's head. As a young man he had become fascinated with
tales of the Spartan empire, and the battles to protect their integrity.
So once again Miller put pen to paper, writing and illustrating a story that
was so epic in scope, many could argue that comic books seemed like an odd
platform to present it through. But like his other works, the powers
that be in the Hollywood community stood up and took notice. After the
success of Robert Rodriguez's SIN CITY film, director Zack Snyder (the
cool DAWN OF THE DEAD 2004 remake) grabbed hold of 300 and wouldn't let
go. He saw what Rodriguez had accomplished, and decided to take things a
step further. But unlike SIN CITY, which has an amazing cast of
big name popular actors, Snyder cast relatively unknown players to tell this
story. One could say he wanted the film to stand on it's own for what it
was, not being overpowered by egos or personalities. There's been a lot
of hype behind this adaptation, and it leaves us wondering if the end result
will be satisfying enough to make the build up worth it.
King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) was raised to be a valiant warrior. Even
at a young age he was taught to fight and defend himself at all costs.
Now that he's King of Sparta, Leonidas is raising a son and living with his
confident and beautiful wife Gorgo (Lena Headey). But his kingdom is
threatened by the powerful Persian leader Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro), a larger
than life man thought to be a God by his people. Xerxes controls tens of
thousands of Persian soldiers, and is descending upon Greece. Against
incredible odds, Leonidas decides to lead his meager but determined army of
300 Spartan soldiers into battle. Joined by groups of Thespians and
other slave soldiers, they bravely face the opposing warriors head on.
But while the violent war begins for this King, back home his wife must go to
great extremes, hoping to convince the rest of Greece to stand with her
courageous husband, before all is lost.
Now if you've seen the trailers for this film, you already know to expect some
incredible visuals. But man oh man is this something to behold.
From the first frame we're treated to amazing imagery that continues strongly
throughout the entire movie. Where SIN CITY was an almost panel
for panel copy from the source material, this interprets the comics and takes
things to a cinematic level far beyond what most directors would probably ever
attempt. Zack Snyder has crafted an epic scale masterpiece of
moviemaking that like Miller's comics will grab you and hold you until the
very end. I was reminded of films like GLADIATOR and the LORD
OF THE RINGS trilogy. But again, this goes far beyond anything we've
seen before. The battle scenes are carefully displayed, often in slow
motion... not to over dramatize the action, but rather to let us experience
the ferocity of what's going on amidst it all. Every kill is clearly
seen in gory detail. In many ways this is the most authentic display of
warrior on warrior action you're ever likely to see on film. Now keeping
that in mind, it's important to remember that a large percentage of this was
shot using blue and green screens along with digital backgrounds. This
truly is a comic book come to life. The performances are solid too.
Knowing the extensive use of special effect photography, it would be easy to
understand how the actors could have a hard time feeling the moment from scene
to scene. But their portrayals are sincere and effective. I can't
imagine anyone being stronger with their delivery had there even been real
sets surrounding them. I can also tell you how very glad I am that the
cast has no huge names. Along with Snyder's visual style, it's just one
more element that allows us to be transported into this era, and appreciate
the events without having any preconceptions on acting ability. As much
as I loved the film, I wouldn't call it perfect, but for what it is this is a
memorable experience than satisfies on many levels. There are a couple
of characters that involve elaborate make-up jobs, and I think those may have
been the only distracting element that I noticed during it all. You
should also note the film is incredibly graphic, to the point of where many
could argue it's excessive. But this story was one of violence anyway,
and had this aspect been toned down, I don't know if the overall impact
would've worked as well. I would almost say I liked this better than
SIN CITY, and I really liked SIN CITY. Despite how you feel
about the story, or the performances, or anything else regarding this film, it
is without a doubt a visual feast that has to be seen from start to finish to
be appreciated... and I appreciated it quite a bit.
BIGFANBOY.com score - On a scale of
1 to 10, 10 being best, I give 300 a 9.
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