Started out early–Adam and I went to storm spotter training, he for the nth time, me for the first. Apparently one class makes you a Skywarn spotter, so now I am one. There’s an advanced class next weekend, but it’s in Cincinnati.
After that, a little lunch, and we went to see 300.
Well, it was a good movie, but not the great movie it’s getting built up as.
Cinematically, it came off as trying to be bigger than it was, and yet it wasn’t as big as it needed to be. The problem for me was that it was painfully obvious where the set left off and the greenscreen began, and I found it distracting–this is one of the few spectacle movies that will probably look better on your TV from DVD than it did in the theater. I don’t know if this was a problem with just our print, but it was also very grainy. However, my roommate–who knows film–says that graininess is a known problem with the Super 35 process, which this was shot in. To add to the flaws, the lighting wasn’t always matched between the live action and the effects, with an obvious light line coming in at one angle, and shadows falling at a different angle. I also found the switching between ancient style music and thrashy rock annoying.
The performances, by and large, were fine–Gerard Butler played Leonidas as big as possible, and it came off just right.
But what really worked best was that they managed to essentially duplicate Miller’s style in a moving medium. Normally I’m not a Frank Miller fan, but this time it was perfect–some of the shots looked more than merely inspired by the graphic novel, they duplicated scenes almost precisely. The first battle with the Persians, when they’re forced off the cliff, works especially well.
The biggest failing were the repeated speeches about freedom, because if you know the slightest history, you know the in no way, shape or form was Sparta a bastion of freedom, nor would they have the slightest interest in strengthening or defending the Athenian democracy. To be sure, neither Miller nor director Zach Snyder have ever claimed they were making a historically accurate movie. Unfortunately, this is not a stylistic decision like emulating the classical heroic (semi-)nude by dispensing with Spartan armor–this is wholesale revisionism of the worst sort. The comic book was about duty, not freedom. The movie should have stuck with that theme.
All in all, 3½ out of 5, and only barely that rather than a 3. Good, but not great.
And now, off to nap before work.