300 – A Movie Review

When I first saw the preview for 300 several months ago, I knew that this would be a film that would have the same impact upon the industry as did The Matrix and the original Star Wars.  It looked so unlike anything else out there!

Guess what, folks?  It finally came out last week, and it delivers.  300 was a visual feast from start to finish.  Moreover, it was quite compelling!

Granted, I’m not going to say it will win any awards for story or acting, but I have to tell you, the acting was much better than I expected.  Gerard Butler had me convinced he was King of the Spartans.  That guy just seethed power and passion!  Plus, it actually had much more story to it than I thought it would.  Bonus, right?  At no point did it feel drawn out or overextended, yet it still came in at feature-length.

I was a bit concerned going in because of Frank Miller’s connection to this film.  Miller, who created the source material, is known for his gratuitous violence.  I feared 300 would resemble Sin City in its ridiculously over the top displays of brutality.  Anyone remember the scene where a man had his testicles pulled off in Sin City?  Yeah, that’s when I decided that movie was not for me. 

Not to worry, friends, while 300 was very vicious, the violence, like everything else in the movie, was so hyper-stylized that it at no point even resembled reality.  I think that was a good call on the makers’ part.

Hyper-stylized-that’s how I would describe this film.  Truly a joy to watch.  Some people are complaining that its too testosterone-fueled, there’s too much yelling, too much machismo, but you want to know what I think?  When done in such an interesting manner, I see nothing wrong with those things every once in a while.  I mean, if you’re going to see an action movie, don’t you want action?  Don’t you want fervor?  I do.  I was so in the moment, I didn’t even notice all the yelling.  To me that means it must have fit perfectly within the scenes.

The director of 300 is supposedly in line to direct the film version of Watchmen.  Let me just say that if he does half as good a job on Watchmen as he did with 300, I’ll be very happy indeed.

My only question is, where did those warriors in ancient Sparta get all the ab-rollers?  Seriously, every dude in this movie had a sixteen-pack for a stomach.

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A Reaction to the “First Look” Watchmen Photographs

As you may know, Zach Snyder released “first look” photographs of all the major characters from Watchmen but Dr. Manhattan.  If you haven’t seen them, you can check them out here:

http://forum.newsarama.com/showthread.php?t=149166

My first reaction to the photographs was that they are full of style.  Zach Snyder, the man responsible for the theatric interpretation of 300, excels at style, and he is obviously bringing that panache to his adaptation of Watchmen

However, mention the word “style,” and “substance” automatically follows.  Some accuse Snyder of having no substance based upon his previous work, and some even state that he will utterly fail at bringing the substance of Moore’s seminal Watchmen to the silver screen.

My contention, though, is that movies based upon literature (and Watchmen is literature in every sense of the word) rarely capture the pure “substance” of the source material.  Watchmen was a product of a political and commercial era that has come and gone.  Even if Snyder were the most gifted of directors, I’m not certain he could convey the substance of the source material because it has become so much more than just a simple “comic book” to fans, creators, and the comic book industry as a whole. 

Could anyone truly recreate such an iconic work?  Could any moviemaker honestly take a twelve-issue maxi-series full of nuances and metaphor, and trim it down to a one hundred and twenty minute movie-a movie geared towards a mainstream audience?

Listen, I really, truly hope Snyder does Watchmen justice, but I think it’s naïve to ask the man to create a literal translation of everything the original series encapsulates.  We are fortunate that we’ve read the original!  We’ve experienced the magic and importance of it!  For us, Snyder is simply bringing an interpretation, an adaptation.  It doesn’t mean the original could disappear if Snyder doesn’t do well.

If anything, I hope Snyder brings the adrenaline and style of 300 to Watchmen and that inspires people who normally wouldn’t read comic books to seek out Moore’s brilliant creation and immerse themselves in the sublime substance of the source material.  I would love to sit with my friends who don’t usually read comics and discover they’d read Watchmen because of the movie.  That’s better than them never reading it at all, right?

Moore’s Watchmen deserves mainstream attention by society in general, and especially by the critics and scholars.  It literally changed an industry and influenced today’s greatest creators in a multitude of genres.  If Snyder can capture even a smidgeon of Watchmen and do it justice, if he can thrill people with the characters Moore made so utterly captivating, if he can dazzle us with visuals so incredible, perhaps people will feel compelled to read the real thing.

Snyder will not give us an exact replication of Moore’s Watchmen, but he will give us his translation of it, and I say we wait and see how it turns out.  The worse that can happen is it flops and disappoints comic book fans.  The alternative is that it wakes the world up to a book that deserves credit by all lovers of literature, not just the comic book fans.

It takes style to get people’s attention, and judging from Snyder’s photographs, whether you love them or hate them, you have to admit he’s on his way to capturing the world’s attention.