300, I hardly followed ye. Although, what with the liquor, that may have been my own fault.
And the only theater near me was renovating and had ONE damn movie showing and that movie was 300. But, knowing that a movie that started with ghastly child abuse and ended with a slaughter wouldn't be a big bunch of kicks, I decided to prepare.
I really can't tell you about the objective merits of 300. I wasn't really up for that, but let me tell you, 300 watched while steadily drinking an entire bottle of champagne squirted into your mouth from an emptied-out gatorade bottle is absolutely frickin' fantastic.
Except the part where I threw up on the light fixture.
In case you have been living under a rock, 300 is Frank Miller's interpretation of the Battle of Thermopylae. In it, King Leonidas of Sparta rounds up three hundred of the bravest men ever to don banana hammocks and leads them to fight the vast, transexual, pansexual, and mansexual Persian army, led by the God-King-Living-Piece-of-Chainmail Xerxes.
Once again, I've only seen the clips and read the reviews sober, so I can't exactly give you a rundown of the strengths and weaknesses of the film, but I still think that the key is watching it drunk. The effects look too monotone and too much like a video game? I can barely focus my eyes! What do I care? The slow-mo sequences and bombastic speeches drag on too much? Fine. I needed that time to use Champagne to french up my soda or catch up on the important questions, like, who's fighting who again, did that battle-rhinoceros just explode, and did I just drop popcorn down my shirt. (The answers are the Spartans are fighting the Persians, no it didn't explode, they just used the rhinoceros's wipe-out to sweep into the ninja-Persians with hand grenades montage, and yes I did, I found two kernels that night when I showered.) They also say there are plot holes to the point where the story doesn't make any sense. . . . . There is just so much alcohol I can absorb.
It's good to start drinking a little early (like surreptitiously from a ceramic mug in the office) so you're good and buzzed when you see the, as I said, ghastly child abuse at the beginning. I love how they continuously make speeches about Sparta being the home of light and reason when the first shot is a priest inspecting a newborn over a gigantic ravine full of baby skeletons.
After that things take a turn for the lighter, when we see lil'Leonidas being beaten by his father for dropping his sword, being whipped so that he learns to bear pain without showing emotion, and then being tossed out in the snow barefoot to kill him a wolf. He returns and becomes king, and after that we jump forward to a time when he can beat the hell out of his own son.
Now we're about half the bottle in on a small salad for lunch, so . . . um . . . it got a little hazy and I'll have to give you out of sequence impressions.
It's interesting seeing them try to split the difference between showing Spartans as extreme badasses and not losing the audience's sympathy. So when they show Leonidas sparring with his son he just does a gentle judo throw (really, it was pretty sweet) instead of using his father's method of punching his son in the face. Then he smiles, gives him a 'buck up little killing machine' speech and smooches his head.
Before going out to literally kill the messenger. I kid you not. Let this be a lesson to those Persians. Just attack cities without any warning, declaration of war or attempted negotiation – it's better. (Although considering Persian tactics, it's not a lesson they could learn.) Also, it's okay, because the Persian messenger makes a sexist comment about Queen Gorgo and there's nothing (snerk) we hate more in this movie (snerk snerk) than sexism. The messenger asks how a woman can speak in front of men. Gorgo replies that only Spartan women give birth to Spartan men. I guess that's what the Spartans call a zinger, but it doesn't rate much on the old GloriaSteinemometer. There was an old suffragette song, She's Good Enough to be Your Baby's Mother, And She's Good Enough to Vote With You. Spartan women have the first part down.
But don't worry, we don't see how any Spartan children come out of women when we can have much more fun seeing how they get in there in the first place. The night before Leonidas marches out to certain doom, we get treated to the most slow motion bare boob jiggling you could possibly see outside of a soft-core porno. Or a French film. (Speaking of, what would the proper name be for champagne and soda? Choke? Chamoke? Cokagne? Uh oh.)
Leonidas sets out with only three hundred soldiers because the Ephors (hideous deformed old men) consulted the Oracle (hot young woman who, the narrator makes clear, they are totally banging) and said that he could not go to war. To be fair, it is clear that Leonidas hates the Ephors, their superstition and their teenager-rape, and only tolerates them because it is the law. If it were up to him, he'd get rid of them and spend the night at home, planning a slaughter and whipping his son.
Still off he marches to battle, with his soldiers, and on the way, we get a look at Persian Tactics, Part Une. The Spartans march from Sparta, to the "Hot Gates," where the Persian army is camped out. On the way they see Athens, which is burned to the ground, and all its citizens except a little boy, killed, by the Persian army. Let me say that again. ON THE WAY to where the Persian army is camped out, they see a city destroyed by the Persian army. So the Persians came in, conquered a city, and then retreated over the ground they had just conquered to a point where they could be strategically held off. How do these guys tie their shoes, let alone conquer half the world?
Now is the fun part. Battle time! Attack rhinoceroses. Rhinocerous. Rhinoceri. Elephants. Huge guys in chains. Swordplay. Women belly dancing. In chains. Leapfrog attacks (on guy uses another guy's back to jump up and over the first wave of opponents). Slaves carrying soldiers. In chains. Seriously, it's like the Folsum Street Fair, but with be-headings and bad teeth.
There's also a rather sweet father-son relationship between the captain of the guard and his adolescent son who is a soldier but, as Leonidas said, hadn't truly known "the warmth of a woman."
"Yeah, the warmth of a woman." the rest of the soldiers snicker. "That's how we roll."
Of course, although it provides the emotional center of the fight, you know, what with the massacre being the point of the movie, it can't end well. It also provides a fascinating hole in Spartan training. I won't reveal all, but let's just say that I was raised on gentle suburban schoolyards and even we had worked out an established protocol for "Heads."
Oh, and there's creative use of enemy dead. A wall. A barricade. A wave with which to crush more enemy soldiers. Unpleasant close ups. Probably food, since I didn't see any of the Spartans carrying anything to battle they couldn't store in their leather speedos.
Meanwhile, back in the city-state, Gorgo is having something of a time convinces the senate (?) to send more troops. The only hope is a slimy guy named Theron, who says he will only support her if he has long, un-enjoyable, S&M sex with her. She agrees, out of loyalty to Leonidas, and he double crosses her in the senate chamber, at which point she stabs him in the gut and in doing so revealing a purse of Persian gold coins that shows he is a traitor. All well and good, and I don't criticize anything she did. The double-cross was predictable, but she had to try. Still, it seems that that wasn't the job for a Queen so much as for an investigative reporter. She could have saved herself a lot of trouble if she'd been less fertile Myrtle and S&M Sally and more Lois Lane. The senate decides to fight the Persians. Too late.
Way, way, way, too late. Because after the 300 make their last stand, make Xerxes bleed, and go down under an arrow-darkened sky (very cool effect, I imagine, even when one is sober) while still vastly outnumbered, we skip to the time that has become notorious for DC Comics readers, One Year Later. Here the Persian army is being held off by 10,000 Spartans. Still at the Hot Gates.
Which leads us into Persian Tactics, Part Deux. What the hell, people? You just slaughtered the last of the people who were defending a strategic point, you still have a ton of soldiers left, and you DON'T march through? You hang around for a year? Or do you march into Athens and retreat again? What? What! I, at one point, was lurching through the theater so buzzed I was unable to focus on the signs pointing me to the restrooms, and seriously considering peeing on the floor, and I still managed to think of a better strategy than that.
And yet, as I came out into the sunlight, giggling quietly, I felt elated. Somewhere between the exploding rhinoceroses and the weird sandal and slow-mo fetish porn, they crammed it quite a fun action movie.
Of course, this morning I wasn't feeling too good. I'm going to blame it on leather-withdrawal.