Meat. Big, thick, heart-fattening slabs of raw meat. You’ll crave for meat after seeing this movie, or, wanting to beat a small animal and eating it raw. This movie is pure karnege! This is the sort of film I imagine I’d love to watch while chewing on a giant drumstick, while holding an old-school goblet with the other hand.
The previews before the movie jumpstarted the urge for karnege, what, with natives vs. vikings Pathfinder and scenes of John McClane himself from Die Hard 4. (Okay, so there was a singing frog reminding the viewers to kill off their phones in-between, but, what the hell, I hate frogs, so I imagine trying to slaughter one.)
Then, without warning, (and without a TransFormers trailer) it started.
The first thing you notice is the visuals: crisp actors on a high-contrast, chroma-filtered, heavily-stylized world. If you haven’t seen the comic-book yet, (or if you didn’t know it was based on a comic) the world presented is obviously the stuff of artistic dreams — which don’t need a pre-introduction. Some things are obviously CG, but it’s done in such a way that you wouldn’t mind. (Read: Sin City, almost two years ago.) Plus, I don’t know if it’s intentional, but Leonidas’ (Gerard Butler) looked like he stepped out of a comic book. And damn, the Spartans’ vividly-blood-red cloaks marching in uniformity over the toned background looks awesome.
Then you hear the loud, thunderous roars of the Spartans. This is a 70% shout movie, I mean, how would you address 300 soldiers if you spoke mellow? Butler roars and grunts as he rips the enemy to shreds, left and right. Then you hear the narration. From the crowd, I could hear that some viewers were put off by Dilios’ (David Wenham) narration, thinking it was too-OA. But as far as the whole tone of the movie goes, it is intentional. It’s supposed to be over-the-top! (PS. I fell in love with Xerxes’ voice.)
The story is about the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC – but you knew that already, so here’s a 9.18-second blow-by-blow account instead: narration – flashback – talk – talk – violence – talk – love scene – talk – talk – violence, violence, violence – rest – more violence – talk – karnege, karnege, karnege – narration – denouma. That’s all of the plot you need to know, really. Who knew mindless carnage could be so much fun? And not tedious? The male brain is an amazing thing, it can make anything seem fun. Laughing over a guy who got decapitated for example. Then I noticed that no one else was reacting to the scene. (I didn’t stop laughing.) If there ever was a Man-Movie-Awards, this’d be Man Movie of 2007.
And it’s thanks to the brilliant cinematography and the cut of the sequences. When the action starts, IT IS ON, and yet, it leaves spaces in-between to gear up for the next scene. And the fight scenes – oh – they have to be witnessed! Limbs flying in fast-then-slow, fast-then-slow motion, which gets your heart alternately pumping fast-then-slow, fast-then-slow. Tons of scenes to induce the bloodlust in you. (Just don’t go off and kill dogs with big sticks, pretending it’s a wolf.) But that’s where the balance comes in; it is over-the-top, but not tasteless. Justifying the carnage with the glory, pride and heroism that Leonidas and his 300 men face.
This is visual brutal fun at its best, like the best-ever looking swords and spears video game you’ve never played, and I couldn’t recommend it more. Now excuse me while I look for dogs to kill.