Enh. I don't know what to say about this movie. Finally watched the DVD last night. I never saw it in theater. Enh. That seems to be the best thing to say.
I liked it. I did. I thought it was very well made. Technically, there is nothing wrong with it. It does its job and does it very, very well. Especially if you want to think of it as a screen adaptation of the Frank Miller graphic novel, it does its job very well.
However, as a movie, as I was sitting there watching it with my wife, I was kind of bored. The story wasn't as enthralling on the screen as reading the graphic novel would be. Maybe there's something wrong with me, as I thought the movie was so-so because of this.
To me, it was almost like watching Titanic. You know that the ship is going to sink. You know that the 300 Spartans are going to put up one hell of a fight but perish in the end. It's inevitable, and I think both movies allude and foreshadow to this the entire time. It is almost like you know the ending as you watch the beginning.
So why does a historical epic like Braveheart still work, even though you know everything? Why does Gladiator still work? Those two movies seemed to have more of a complete story. I don't think I am coming across well here.
However, 300 was a technical masterpiece. I completely applaud the efforts of director Zach Snyder and the cast of the movie. The parts were all played very well. It just seems to me to be one of those movies that everything is perfect except for a more engrossing story.
It's hard for me to say that I think the story was lacking. Frank Miller has always captivated me with his graphic storytelling approach, and I thought the movie Sin City was even better. The story of the movie, of 300 brave Spartans fighting Xerxes against impossible odds, and holding, is really, really cool to me. To say it is not engrossing to me kind of goes against the genre of heroic fiction that I really love. I love this idea. And the fact that it is a true story even lends more credence to it. Maybe I lost some of the impact watching on a DVD versus the big screen, but a good move will hold up, matter if I watch it on a 2"x2" screen or a big theater screen with surround sound.
300 was good. I am glad I watched it. I would go see another Zach Snyder movie anytime for the talented filmmaking. He is set to do Alan Moore's Watchmen next.
What am I comparing it to, in my head? Other films? The graphic novel source material? Would I have thought of this movie differently if I didn't know the graphic novel at all? I wonder how audiences that don't know the graphic novel understand the slow-motion sequences that are direct takes from the book? Do they see them as something artistic or does it slow the action down? Would I have liked it better if I had not read the graphic novel first?
Maybe that's it. See, I never read Alan Moore's V for Vendetta graphic novel before seeing the movie. I enjoyed that movie immensely. I picked up the graphic novel at the library the other day and just can't seem to get into it, knowing the movie. And I'm supposed to be a comics reviewer and I can't get into one of the top ten graphic novels of all time, by one of the greatest comic book writers of all time.
Does source material adversely affect the movie version? Are some movies trying to too strictly adhere to the source material? Shouldn't an adaptation be specific for the medium?
Case in point: The Lord of the Rings. The movie has nothing about Saruman and the scouring of the Shire that is in the book. I am personally glad for it. I think the movie The Return of the King ended perfectly for my tastes. I think adding another climax would have detracted from it. In the book it works, but I do not think it would have worked in the movie.
My final vote on 300, as I have to "rate" it for Netflix on their five-star system: I gave it a 3 out of 5 stars. I reserve my 5-stars for the really top movies that I love. I do not give it out willy-nilly. And 4-star rating and classified as "I really liked it," one of those movies to me that you kind of nod your head and say to yourself, "That was really good." The 3-star rating fits here. I really felt, as I watched 300, that I was watching for the technical effects and the acting and not the story of the movie itself. That's just me and my random thoughts here.