FRANK MILLER'S 300 screened tonight! And...

Category: 300 Reviews | Posted by: admin
Article Date: August 18, 2006 | Publication: Ain't It Cool News | Author: Quint
Publication/Article Link:http://www.aintitcool.com/display.cgi?id=24198

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. There was a test screening this night of Zack Snyder's film version of Frank Miller's graphic novel 300. I told ya' the Comic-Con footage was out of this world awesome and now you'll have two guys... one a big Frank Miller fan and the other someone just familiar with SIN CITY... tell you how awesome the movie is. And they do say it's awesome. Mark my words, squirts. 300 will be the beginning of next year's geekasms, hopefully running all they way through SPIDER-MAN 3. Enjoy the reviews. If you want to keep pure you should be warned of spoilers below!!!

Guys...HOLY SHIT...I saw this movie tonight and I am still in heaven...hope you can use this...call me Actionman! Thanks for all the great stuff!

So where to begin. Tonight, I had my face blown off in a movie theater. When the lights came up, I had to look on the floor to find my face and then put it back on. What movie could have done this you ask....Zach Snyderís masterpiece 300, based on Frank Millerís graphic novel. Let me set the scene quickly...never before have I seen security at a test screening this high. 4 separate groups of screener peeps came over and asked a variety of questions, really trying to weed out the industry types. It was made clear while we were waiting: NO cameras in the theater. nothing...no exceptions. metal detectors. bag searches. After getting a perfect seat, the emcee got up and made the point that we were the first audience ever to see the movie, anywhere. Big round of applause. The usual followed...this movie is not complete, the score is temp (notied a lot of Thin Red Line and Black Hawk Down cues), some of the effects arenít done, etc. Then, the movie....

Simply put, it fucking pains me that I have to wait until March of 2007 to experience this complete triumph of art and commerce again. Because thatís what this is. This is a tight, spare, slightly less than 2 hour piece of ART. EVERY SINGLE FRAME OF FILM IN 300 IS GLORIOUS TO LOOK AT. ITís like a painting you would see at a museum, except, it has come to life. Itís smolderingly gorgeous. Suffocatingly sexy to behold at times. It is, after first viewing, one of the coolest movies I have ever laid my eyes on. All I can think about is how much BETTER the movie will be when they are done with all of the effects and laying in the score...I mean this is a 5 time in a theater kind of flick. But whatís it about....?

Most reading this will know but 300 is the story of the Spartan army, lead by their king Leonidas (Gerard Butler), who goes to war against Xerxes, the ruthless Persian king. What raises the stakes is the head count...300 Spartans VS. 1,000,000 Persians. So, basically, itís a test of balls...of manliness...of not backing down and kicking everyoneís ass who is in your way. And then pushing their bodies over a cliff. There are some subplots as well, but the thrust of the movie follows Leonidas and his brave soldiers as they absolutely kick ungodly amounts of ass. The action in this movie is simply astonishing...YOU HAVE NEVER SEEN THIS TYPE OF ACTION BEFORE IN A MOVIE.

Let me also say this...I am new to the Frank Miller universe. I was familiar with the Sin City books and the 300 book, but wasnít an invested fan, like so many people are. I loved every second of Sin City the movie, so when I heard that Snyder--who I thought did a fucking awesome job with his first movie, the Dawn of the Dead remake--was making an all CGI-background ancient battle epic, I immediately became interested. But when I saw that much-buzzed about 5 minute clip they showed at Comicon, I was sold. And tonight, I got a movie that blew away my very high expectations.

The action scenes in 300 are going to amaze people. Intensely violent, EXTREMELY stylized, epic yet intimate, they are some of the most stunning sequences of action I have seen in years. The Scott Brothersyouíre gonna love this. Tarantino and Rodriguez--bring a change of shorts to the theater. McG--take some fucking notes. Iím really trying to hold back on the spoilers, as I want people to have as much fun with this flick as I did. But needless to say, there is a liberal amount of decapitations (some in such detail that I doubt the MPAA will allow it all), a serious amount of limbs are hacked off---this is gritty, violent, dark shit. And done all so beautifully, that 300 transcends this genre and becomes something else...a revolutionary piece of filmmaking. My only complaint at the moment (and I still need to sleep on the film, I literally got out an hour ago) is that I wished it was longer. Not that anything felt slighted or incomplete, but that I was just in movie heaven and I didnít want it to end. The awesome opening did feel a bit rushed maybe, but that's a minor quibble. The stuff with a young Leonidas taking on a vicious wolf at night in the snow is sensational.

The acting is awesome across the board, with Gerard Butler giving his breakthrough performance. This guy has been working hard the past few years (and did a damn fine take on playing the Phantom in Phantom of the Opera) and this is his Russell Crowe-Gladiator grab-it-by-the-balls-and-run-with-it performance. David Wenham plays his friend and fellow soldier Dilios, and narrates the story in poetic and ironic voiceover that adds another exciting dimension to the story. Xerxes is played with great relish by Rodrigo Santoro, who mustíve spent hours in the makeup/wardrobe chair. Lena Headey is Leonidasís hot, happy to take her top off wife, who is smarter than she appears. Oh yes, there is AMPLE nudity and sex in 300, a quality missing in too many movies thesedays. All of the smaller parts are expertly pulled off by a cast of mostly unknowns and extras.

But the real star of the show is Zach Snyder, who just nails the look of Millerís book and creates something all his own. There is one sequence in particular I will talk aboutso people who donít want to know anything about the movie, look away. Snyder does what must be a 2 or 3 minute shot where Leonidas kills about a dozen guys, all in one camera move, panning across the screen, similar to the hallway rampage in Oldboy. However, to heighten the scene, Snyder accelerates the action, the slows it down, and then makes it fast again. Itís FUCKING INCREDIBLE to watch. Limbs are flying, blood is sprayed everywhere, spears and swords and clanking against each other...but all done in such a way that it feels NEW and EXCITING, and just cool as all hell.

And on the way out, to cap it off, I saw Snyder talking with Mark Canton (one of the producers), and couldnít help myself. I approached him and he was so cool. I told him how much I loved the movie, how it blew me away, and he was all smiles...I shook his hand and told him how it was gonna hurt to have to wait till March to see it again. He laughed and said: ďGo home and get on the internet and let Ďem all know!Ē So here I am, letting you all know.

So thatís it, itís late, I gotta eat something, and then get up for work in 6 hours. Tonight I saw something special in a movie theater. Something I will never forget. Movies like 300 are WHY I GO TO A THEATER. Ruthless, hard-core, overflowing with machismo, and simply a blast from start to finish, 300 will own all of your asses next year. Mark my words.

Actionman out.
Here's the second review, from the big Frank Miller fan. If we get any more reviews we'll post 'em after this one! Enjoy!!!

Hey Harry,

I just got back from the first test screening of Frank Miller's 300.

I was surprised today when a friend told me he had two passes so of course, I was immediately in. We arrived early where the suits asked us what we study in school or our profession...also told not to write to any movie sites.

Anyways, the WB logo popped up after a short intro where we were told that effects and music were still unfinished. Being a huge fan of Frank Miller's work I was cautiously optimistic. I have one word to say.

WOW.

WB logo comes up and we're introduced to the 300 logo with a bolt of lightning. We start out with the story of Leonidas as a boy. We come to present day where emissaries from the Persian king ride into Sparta to tell Leonidas and Sparta to surrender. This is the first time we see how beautiful the cinematography is. The shot of the horses coming over the hill to look down on Sparta is absolutely beautiful.

I don't want to spoil too much for those who haven't read the book or heard anything about it, but the biggest chunk of the film is absolute non stop action. Again, the cinematography is absolutely gorgeous and they really got the feel of graphic novel down. The dark clouds hovering in the sky with the sun poking through and glimmering off the ocean. Again, absolutely gorgeous.

As for the action...phenomenal. My biggest complaint with action scenes is how they're all edited like a music video these days to the point that you get disoriented and have no idea what's going on. The first minute or so of the first action sequence is like this and I started to get down a bit...and then bam! We see a long sequence of Leonidas taking out about 15 enemies in slow motion with the camera pulled back so you can actually see what's going on. One shot of him lopping off a Persian's leg got a loud gasp from the crowd for how great it actually looked. Also there were some cool shots of blood spurting towards the camera in slow motion. It worked really well.

This is where you could tell that some of the effects weren't finished. Not all of it looked perfect but it was good enough that it wasn't irritating. There will definitely be more work there. Sometimes you'd see a "glow" around an actor which still needs to be fixed.

The bad: I really don't have many complaints. The music was my only complaint but it was said before the show that this wasn't going to be the final music. Some parts had almost heavy metal-like music that I highly doubt will end up in the final picture. A couple of the action sequences, especially with the elephants look like they have work to be done as well. Also, some shots were just still frames for a few seconds. Not much to complain about since all of this will be fixed and finished by the time the film hits theaters.

The only part of the story I seemed not to like was with Leonidas' wife and the traitor senator. The queen approaches the council to send the whole army to help the 300 soldiers...but as a viewer, you don't feel for her because the 300 are whipping serious ass without the rest of the army so you have absolutely no reason to root for the rest of the army to show up. You end up just really not caring about the rest of the army...

Xeres was great...big and intimidating. He sees himself as a god and Leonidas at one point promises him he'll bleed. Well, one of the scenes that had the biggest impact on me was when Leonidas cuts the side of his mouth with a spear...the look of horror on Xeres' face is just fantastic...and you actually feel for him.

I know I'm rambling here because I just walked in the door and felt I had to write. I can't emphasize enough how great this film looked and the action scenes were the best I've seen in a real long time. Don't want to spoil too much but the scene with Leonidas fighting the giant ogre is extremely intense. This film really surpassed my expectations which were high for a book as great as 300. Go see it opening weekend.

If you use this, call me Dharma Bum

P.S. For all the pervs who are gonna ask "but are there boobs?"...the answer is "yes".