Saturday, March 31, 2007

Tonight, we dine in heck

A few readers have asked what I thought of 300, which I only had a chance today. A few things:

It was really, thoroughly, exactly what I expected. On the one hand, that's praise-- I had high expectations, partly on the basis of one of the best trailers I've seen in years. On the other hand, it's a little disappointing. Sin City was this astonishing, amazing, novel thing-- it would never have occured to me that a movie could look like that before. Now, well, I do know that a movie could look like that. And 300, unlike Sin City, is a story in which the beats just are what they are, have to be what they have to be-- all archetypes and stereotypes and the basic founding myth of the west and so on and so on. It's not a movie for surprises in the first place, and the fact that the stunning aesthetic itself was itself not so stunning meant that there was something boring even about the excitement.

Add to that the fact that, while I've never read 300, I've been seeing Frank Miller pictures (and Miller-Varley pictures) on the page for some 20 years now. When a waterfall of Persian soldiers fall over the cliff in slow motion, it's hard to think anything other than: "I've seen this frame dozens of times with the Hand; I even think I've seen this panel on Daredevil covers four or five times." I know Sin City had lots of standard Miller visual tropes as well, but somehow they didn't distract me the same way.

The mixture of accents was a bit goofy. The lighting was pretty visually impressive, and the most visually novel part.

Like I said, I had high expectations, and they were met. But they were met so perfectly (even without having read the comic) that it was, paradoxically,a bit of a letdown.