Saturday, March 10, 2007

300 and other bite-sized movie reviews

Thanks everyone for your well-wishes in comments and emails, etc. I'm feeling better, although in the last two days, as I've decided to just go about my life as normal, and I've probably regressed a bit. But oh well, I can deal with blowing my nose and an occasional cough.

Last night I saw the movie 300. My friends have anticipated seeing it for a long time, although I only became familiar with it a few weeks ago. I had enjoyed Sin City, although the violence left me nauseated, so I was a little worried by the NY Times review stating, "300 is about as violent as Apocalypto and twice as stupid." And then right before watching the movie I read the People Magazine review that started out with, "Just before raping a woman, the villain of this piece sneeringly tells her, 'This will not be over quickly and you will not enjoy it.' Ditto for 300." Oh, so not only is the movie violent and bad, but there's going to be a long, painful rape scene. Goody.

But when it comes to my movie going habits, I'm a bit of a sucker for "events" and I tend to also tend to just agree to see movies that my friends want to see (like Snakes on a Plane), unless I've read enough reviews and heard enough about a movie to know that I wouldn't like it. With 300, I read some positive reviews as well, and I figured I'd at least find it beautiful to look at, and I set my expectations as to the violence and acting/storyline appropriately.

I wasn't disappointed by the movie. In fact, I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. (I think I've mentioned this before, and it's sad, but I'm convinced that it's all about expectations. I don't want to have low expectations of the movies I see, but it definitely allows me to enjoy the movies more. For example, I didn't think Little Miss Sunshine was all that great, whereas all of my friends loved it and saw it multiple times.) I would also like to point out that there is no rape scene in 300, and that the scene that the review is referring to is consentual sex, although maybe it would fall under the sexual harassment umbrella, but regardless, thankfully it is not shown at all on camera.

The movie is gorgeous to look at. Grand, sepia-toned landscapes. Incredible CGI creatures. Lovely, half-naked warrior men with strong legs and killer abs. Thousands of arrows darkening the sky. It wasn't too violent for me, because the way the violence was done was also beautiful, a "ballet of death" as it's been described. So much to look at, so much to take in. Great battles scenes. The dialogue is horrible, though, and there were so many scenes/things that my friends and I made fun of after the fact. One of my favorites was an exchange between the king and one of his distraught captains. It went something like:

King: My heart is pained for your loss.
King: (nods) Good.

hahahaha. Oh, boy.

So in summary, I can't say it was a good movie, but I enjoyed the experience.


Other bite-sized reviews of a few I've seen in the past four months or so (both on video or in the theater):

United 93: heartbreaking and educational. You know how it ends, but as you watch you still hope that somehow it ends differently. You'll cry during the whole last third of the movie.

The Departed: compelling. My heart was pounding and I had a knot in my gut during the whole last 30 minutes. Overall very well-acted, especially Leonardo DiCaprio.

Pan's Labyrinth: breathtaking, imaginative, raw, the best movie I saw last year.

Dreamgirls: glorious to look at, powerful music, incredible performances by Jennifer Hudson and Eddie Murphy

The Holiday: great chick-flick, funny, wished the two main characters had healed on their own, without having a new love interest in their lives, but then I guess it wouldn't have been a romantic comedy. Totally unrealistic, but it was great for what it was.

Prairie Home Companion: boring with a few moments of brilliance, hated the whole angel storyline. Was disappointed because I love the radio show.

Children of Men: didn't meet my expectations, felt that too much was explained, but thought it was an interesting and thought-provoking concept and a great-looking movie. And I heart Clive Owen.

Roll Bounce: exuberant, fun, loved it!

Music and Lyrics: Another perfect chick-flick/romantic comedy, extremely fun and enjoyable, I love both Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore, hilarious. Even heard the men in the theater laugh out loud heartily.


Disco Mermaids said...

I was hesitant to go see 300 because of the violence...but if there are lovely, half-naked warrior men, well, I might reconsider.

And I'm glad to see someone else who feels the same way about Little Miss was good,
I may have enjoyed it more if my expectations weren't so high.

I think I'm going to start lowering my expectations all around. Then maybe I'll actually enjoy American Idol this year. (I miss Bo!)


topangamaria said...

For me, 300 didn't live up to its hype about being revolutionary imagery. Seeing Star Wars the first day it was out was mindblowing. Seeing 300 was interesting, albeit a bit gory, but I think Kurosawa is better.
Pan's Labryinth and Departed were two of my faves of last year.

gail said...

You are so right about expectations. My daughter came home from college at Christmas saying that "Little Miss Sunshine" was the best movie ever made. Needless to say, I was disappointed. (But she was validated when the Academy Award nominations came out.)

My other daughter got the whole family tickets to see 300 last weekend. My son kept telling me I'd hate it. I read the reviews and thought, "I'm going to hate it". I really didn't give it much of a chance. I had already scoped out the times of other shows so I could change my mind. I lasted 10 minutes. Although I too thought the cinematography was beautiful, the story wasn't going to make up for the violence.

"The Departed" was one of the best movies I've seen in a long time. I just had to cover my eyes at times.


Rita said...

Roll Bounce.


Erika said...

I would also like to point out that there is no rape scene in 300, and that the scene that the review is referring to is consentual sex, although maybe it would fall under the sexual harassment umbrella

under almost all state laws, coercion (which is exactly what happened here) is proscutable as rape. It's not fair to say that the queen truly consented, when her choices were (1) have sex with this guy or (2) no one will save your husband.

Saying "yes" means nothing when saying "no" is not a an equally valid option.

Many women who have been coerced into sex don't identify the experience as being a "real" sexual assault -- and it think that's one of the worst rape myths out there.

(off rape crisis counselor soapbox now)

alvinaling said...

Wow, Erika--thanks. I actually got into a discussion with some people about this, and wasn't sure of the answer. But I guess in this case, I still didn't think that she could not have said no. I think she already knew her situation was hopeless, since she had to wait two days to address the council. While watching, I saw it more as a bartering situation. She knew exactly what she was getting into even before she met him. She willingly took off her shirt immediately when he suggested what it was she wanted. Was this really a clear-cut situation of rape, do you think? Or is there some gray area here? Just curious.

Erika said...

hmm.... i thought i responded to this days ago.

oh well.

Yes, I think this is a clear cut situation of rape. But, I also think that it would be difficult to get a conviction because many people -- at all levels of the criminal justice system -- don't take coercion as seriously as they would other forms of sexual assault. It's rather difficult to prove.

I had a longer post before, which seems to have gone to cyberheaven.

Anonymous said...

The movie could be all things to all people. For me, the fight is unfair. "300" is about a bunch of hot white metrosexuals -- those pecs, those abs, that hair -- against a million freaky nonwhite club kids. In other words, the gays. King Xerxes's hangout is full hookah-puffers, derelicts, and girls making it with girls (let's call them lesbians). His army is full of monsters seemingly from the Troma Films creature shop.

According to this outrageously flagrant movie, the Spartans didn't just die for Glory, Duty, and Destiny. They died to keep the Hot Gates from turning into another gay disco.

And as for "The Departed", it wasn't bad if I hadn't seen "The Infernal Affairs".

The movie The Departed -- a remake of the Hong Kong classic Infernal Affairs -- may be considered one of the hottest movies of the year in America. But here in Asia most film critics and movie-goers agree that the original is far superior.