The Nexus of Pop-Culture Fandom

300: A Contrary View

Written by: Rob Van Winkle, CC2K Staff Writer

Image I recently attended the midnight screening on the opening day of the new film 300.  I went into this movie with high expectations (which seems to be a mistake these days) and was disappointed in what I saw.

While I am a fan of action movies and comic books I found 300 fell a bit short.  I have never read the graphic novel by the illustrious Frank Miller, but I am sure it excellent.  I’m basing this assumption on Mr. Miller’s incredible work on such titles as Sin City, The Dark Knight Returns and The Dark Knight Strikes Again.  I just felt that the movie must have missed something; basically it was as though something was lost in the translation.  And is that really surprising?  While I love when comic book movies stay mostly true to the story (see Batman Begins) and don’t wander all over the map (see Batman and Robin), you need to make a few changes to keep the audience involved.  Things like costumes.  When we see super heroes dressed in spandex on the page, we accept it and it doesn’t generally distract from what is happening in the story. On the contrary, when we see an actual human being clad in the tight-fitting fabric, it’s hard not to let a laugh slip out. This is what happened with some of the scenes in 300.  The 300 men clad in capes and short shorts took a moment or two to get used to.  And suddenly here I am, noticing that I’m watching a movie instead of paying attention to the story.  But this is just the beginning of my problems with this film.

Now usually I’m a bit of a movie slut.  By this I mean it’s pretty easy to captivate me with the story and I will be “along for the ride.”  But with 300 I didn’t really care about the characters.  I blame this as much on the direction as I do on the acting.  Aside from the fine job done by Gerard Butler playing King Leonidas and Lena Headey playing Queen Gorgo, the other actors didn’t really hold my attention.  And because of this, when something would happen to them that I was supposed to care about, I just didn’t, especially when this involved violence of some kind.  The movie is so filled with slow-motion spear killing, decapitation and blood spurting that it just loses all meaning eventually.

Now this is not to say that everything about 300 is bad.  The stylistic approach is very well done and just watching the beautiful visuals works for about the first 30 minutes of the film.  But then you start to notice the overacting, and pretty soon the laughter starts coming from the audience at inappropriate times.  By the end of the film I couldn’t help but feel that 300 had taken my money, and yet given me nothing.