Thursday, December 28, 2006

300, and then some.

300 Movie Trailer (I removed the imbedded video because it was fucking with the formatting)

I am cautiously optimistic about this movie. Well, more than that, I am both geeked up and very worried. The last comic book movie I had high hopes for was V for Vendetta, and while pretty much everyone else loved it, I had trouble getting past my affection for its source material. Fortunately, this is movie is sourced from something by Frank Miller, not Alan Moore, and Frank Miller's most famous work was already faithfully adapted for the big screen. Slightly off topic, but Alan Moore has disowned the film versions of all of his books (which he doesn't own the rights to), even refusing to take, what I imagine are, extremely lucrative amounts of money on principle so he won't have his name on them. Considering how bad Constantine, From Hell and LXG were, I can see why he doesn't want to be associated with them, even though I probably wouldn't have had the willpower to resist the cash.

So anyway, 300 isn't much of a graphic novel, I mean that quantitatively not qualitatively. It is only 88 pages and it features mostly splash pages and narration, instead of panels and word balloons. That said, it is an excellent telling of perhaps the most heroic battle of all time. A friend of mine said that Thermopylae was the battle he most wanted to see adapted into a film and I can see why. This is a book of surpassing brutality and a celebration of the sort of masculinity that makes William Munny or Marv look tame by comparison. The Spartans in 300 are fucking and fighting machines,that live and die for honor and glory. Not to spoil too much of the story, but the King of Sparta starts an unwinable war because he won't bow a knee to the God-King of Persia and then he has the audacity to win anyway. So sex, violence and speeches about honor and glory? Sounds like a Hollywood winner to me.

So why the worry? Well, for one this movie could easily become cheesy and gratuitous, in fact it will be very difficult for it not to be. The Illiad seemed impossible to mess up, and yet we had Troy. The preview for the movie features a heavy rock song and editing that is very reminiscent of the Matrix, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but only a few movies have pulled that look and sound off, even most of the Matrix Trilogy didn't manage it. Also, there is a speech in the book, about dying for an age of freedom, that worked on the page, but I wonder if it will turn jingoistic and flat on screen. I am always skeptical of speeches that try to make the exotic palatable for our modern, Western sensibilities. Most of us can't understand dying for pride, but we all have to hear about dying for freedom. But I am getting ahead of myself because I haven't seen the movie yet. I also haven't seen anything by the director, Zack Snyder, though loved his remake of Dawn of the Dead. Coincidentally, his next movie is Watchmen, only the most celebrated comic of all time and the magnum opusa of forementioned malcontent, Alan Moore. I do like that the cast of 300 does not feature any big stars and the movie is coming out in March, not June, so it doesn't have Blockbuster bona fides AKA licence to dumb it down for kids and people who see two movies a year.

In short, I will be there opening day and this one has home run written all over it, but don't be surprised if there is just a violent swing before the ball ends up in the catcher's mitt.

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