Friday, March 23, 2007


I saw this a couple of days ago and, as an enthusiast and scholar both of ancient history and comic books, I found it engrossing. Of course, all the characters are very two-dimensional and it's dificult to have much sympathy with any of them--but the story of the 300 Spartans is an enduring one in the West and probably most viewers already have at least a vague notion that the Spartans were Greek and ferocious warriors who saved Europe at the battle of Thermopylae (the Hot Gates) by defeating a far more numerous Persian army. As long as you know that much then you can sit back and simply enjoy the stunning graphics of a battle you will never be asked to take part in. The battle in the pass is gory enough to satisfy the blood lust of the most hardened young gamer (and many of them--between 12 and 15--were present in the cinema. Strangely, the movie is such a gore feast that the gamers seemed to expect all reference to a "real" story to be missing--and the 15 year old guys next to me chattered through the few extended sections of dialogue.

I enjoyed Frank Harris' changes to the true story--such as making the traitor a deformed Spartan rejected by Leonidas and portraying Xerxes as a bi-sexual giant. After all, this is Movie Land meets Comic Book World--and all things are possible.

This was an unusual and interesting adaptation. I advise you to go out and see it--if you haven't done so already!


Well, I saw this tonight on DVD and was interested to see if all the hooha was justified. Was it?
The first point that comes to mind is that Daniel Craig (as others have said) reminds us why the early movies with Sean Connery were so popular. James Bond should be an athletic man a little shy of 40--and none of the last three Bonds were ever that. Craig spends a lot of time showing off his abs--and I think he's the first Bond to have done this since Sean Connery. On the negative side, Craig doesn't seem to have Connery's easy charm and speaks with a strangely constructed kind of voice that sometimes makes it seem like he has a mouthful of walnuts. Nonetheless, taken as a complete package, he does seem to represent the best Bond casting since Connery. Probably casting went off track when Roger Moore got the part. He was already over 50 and seemed to play the role for laughs. Since then, it's been OK to be an older Bond--but the selection of Craig finally sets the record straight.
What about the story? I was a little concerned that Judi Dench retained the "M" role. "Casino Royale" was the first Fleming novel and Dench's selection made it clear from the outset that the movie wasn't going to play the story as a period piece. In spite of the anachronism Judi Dench does a good job--and more importantly she's given good lines. More problematic is the fact that the movie breaks into three tenuously connected parts that don't always gel together very well. First, there is our introduction to Bond and "M" and his promotion to "00" status. After that, there is the long sequence in the casino (which is the best) and finally the unnecessarily drawn out part in Venice after Bond has decided to keep the money and the girl. The movie is probably 20 minutes to half-an-hour too long and would have benefitted from more accomplished cutting.
Summing it all up, the film is a little too long but is definitely a success due to the casino scenes and the presence of Daniel Craig as an athletic young Bond. If I was rating it on the Yahoo scale, I'd give it a solid "B".