Sunday, April 08, 2007

CCC (300)

Ok, those are Roman numerals. Considering that it is Greek Orthodox Easter today, it seems fitting that I am doing a movie review of the film 300 about the Spartans battle with the Persian armies of Xerxes.

Sure, I'm late coming to the dance here, 300 made headlines a month or so ago, having one of the biggest March openings in cinema history. But hey, dear readers, it is monumental when I see a first-run film in the theater, and one that the kids can't/won't see, as well, so I figured I would blog it.

I have thought about this a bit, so I will just come out and say it. This is not your typical movie review, because I like being atypical.

I enjoyed this film. Thumbs up, all that good stuff. I went in sort of knowing what to expect, based on reviews, chatter, blogfodder, what have you. I had minimal expectations. I anticipated a film with actors I was unfamiliar with, with computer-generated scenery, gore, action, more gore, testosterone, with a shot of homerotic chest-thumping.

And it delivered just that experience.

And I know why this movie did so well. Three words:

Conan the Barbarian.

As I was coming down off of my testosterone buzz, and I had cleansed myself of all the invisible splatter that drizzled off of the movie screen, the guts and blood and sweat that exploded and saturated the audience's uptilted faces, I was reminded of my movie-going experience in Honolulu, twenty-five years ago, almost to the day.

I was 14 in May 1982, when Conan was released and some friends and I managed to get in to see the R-rated film in the Waikiki 1 Theater, onn Kalakaua Boulevard. After the movie was over, we drove up to the University of Hawai'i's Physcial Science Auditorium, where we cut our teeth on Rocky Horror, The Song Remains the Same, and Decline of Western Civilization. But showing that night in May was Russ Meyers' Up!

In one night, I saw my first R-rated film in the theaters, along with my first X-rated film. Of course, that "X" rating was pale compared to what passes as "adult" nowadays.

But I digress. Conan had a budget of $20 million, grossed just under $40 million, and made $68 million worldwide. In comparison, 300 had a budget of $60 million, and made $78 million on its opening weekend. As of April 1, it had grossed $179 million.

Conan had everything 300 has, but by 2007 standards. Both films have a significant amount of nudity. Enough to titillate a 14-year old in 1982, and I'm guessing the same for 2007. There are beasts, religious undertones, and rippling muscled swordplay. I could not help but compare the two movies after the closing credits rolled. Both films had seen previous incarnations in the comics, which was quite evident in the comic-book action of the films.

The CGI effects and the computerized landscapes are becoming less novel in today's cinema, but they are still very new to me, so I found the look of the film fascinating.

If I were going to put on the hat of cinematic snobbery, I could most likely pick apart 300, but I would be disingenuous to do so. There were some moments of dialogue that provoked chuckling among some audience members, and a smirk to my face. But, in the end, I found the film entertaining, and left the theater happy that I had seen it.

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