Test Screening Review - "300"

Category: 300 Reviews | Posted by: admin
Article Date: November 30, 2006 | Publication: Collider.Com | Author: Frosty/Hunter M. Daniels
Publication/Article Link:http://collider.com/entertainment/reviews/article.asp/aid/3275/tcid/1

Frosty here. I was also at this test screening that took place before Thanksgiving. My quick reaction to seeing the entire film… fucking awesome. The thing that was crazy about the test screening was that only a few days before I went to a presentation that Warner Bros. did to start promoting the film (which you can read about here). So when I found out about the test screening… well I had to see the full version. March was just too far away.

In my entire time of living in Los Angeles and going to test screenings, I have never seen a line like what was at that movie theater. Never. I arrived really early and the line was around the building. I actually wondered if I would get in. All the people around me were dying to see the film, some had even driven pretty far to attend.

While I don’t want to build up the hype to an unreasonable level, 300 is really going to kick your ass when it opens in March. It’s just like Sin City, a great, original adaptation of an amazing Frank Miller story. When you see the action on screen and the way Zach Snyder (director) moves the camera and captures the story of King Leonidas, you’ll be happy he is the one bringing Watchmen to the screen. I actually now have faith that it will really happen.

And even the ending credits were original. They looked like Frank Miller might have designed them, and perhaps he did. It looked like a 3D comic panel on screen, with great camera movements between each credit. The only problem was the lights came up pretty early so I didn’t see it all the way through.

I ate up every second of 300 and I think most of you will do the same. Now here is Hunters with a look.

Reviewed by Hunter M. Daniels

300 is an exceptionally manly movie. Every moment and every second of it is filled with manly vigor. I can't remember another film with more shots of taut muscles, drenched in sweat (and blood), shimmering in the sunlight, in slow motion no less. Yea, it's a little gay, but this is the Roman era we are talking about.

For the 3 of you who might not know, 300 tells, through the lens of Frank Miller, the fabled story of the battle of Thermopylae, where 300 Spartans stood against 10,000 enemies and more or less saved the Roman empire.

For the first 20 minutes, the film plays like a hyper stylized episode of some awesome history channel show. A long monologue describes, in brutal detail, the history and practices of the Spartan People. Most of it seems accurate from what I remember from high school. After the opening, the film devolves into a surreal and beautiful mess.

I don't mean mess as insult however. The movie is a gloriously muddled piece of filmmaking. One moment there is fairly realistic ultra-violence on the battlefield and the next, the audience is treated to visage of an 8000 pound man with his arms cut off to the elbow and replaced with knives being used to execute failed generals, a sort of human guillotine.

The movie is chock full of stuff like that. Egyptian Gods show up for no discernable reason, as do rampaging rhinos, ninjas of some type, and a 12 foot tall, metrosexual Xerxes wearing more mascara than Robert Smith circa 1987. There is no logical reason for any of this, but that doesn't mean it's not cool.

In Casablanca the entire plot hinges on mythical "letters of transit" that allow someone to leave the city and fly to the free world. No one seems to ever notice that those letters of transit make absolutely no sense and have no basis in reality. In spite of that, that film is considered amongst the best in the history of Hollywood. 300 faces a similar conundrum, very little of the film makes any cognitive sense. But, like the best of action cinema of old, things like physics and logic rarely interfere with "cool."

And if there is one thing 300 does well, it is the cool factor. At least 4 times during the movie, the audience broke out into spontaneous applause. There are some gorgeous images on display here. There are of course the over cut battle scenes filmed too close, as is par for the genre, but 300 takes things a step further. More than once, the camera follows King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) along his path in one unbroken take as he slices and dices through his enemies. The camera pans as Butler walks calmly through the battle field and cuts off the legs of one Persian, while decapitating 2 others with his twin swords.

The shot looks cool, but becomes absolutely epic as it goes on and on and on and builds momentum. The camera, all still seemingly in the same take, zooms in and out as the film speed speeds up and then slows down. It's like a frantic ADD victim discovering the multi angle option on his first porno DVD, but the shot manages to never be confusing.

The film is certainly not perfect. There is far too much self important pseudo-Shakespearian dialogue and the CGI sets don't always work, (a prime example being the pivotal scenes set in a citadel which feels absolutely cramped). Also, the pacing during the first 2/3rds is all over the place with battle scene after battle scene seemingly leading to nowhere. But, there is something charming about the film. Sure, there are no truly likeable characters, and the film is ultimately a love poem to fascist thinking, but damn if this movie doesn't make fascism look fun.

As the theater emptied, people walking out into the vomitorium looked absolutely stunned. A giant short bus grin covered most of the young men's faces and the women looked woozy from staring at so many chiseled male frames for 2 hours. Unlike so many of the recent crop of epics, "300" offers something unique, a damn good time, no strings attached.

8/10