Last night I did something completely uncharacteristic and went to the Navy Pier IMAX to see 300. Unless you count Henry V, I'd never before willingly sat through a war flick.
I'm not afraid to fight if I must, but I don't like violence and I hate war. I particularly detest the glorification of war, even at a remove of several thousand years.
So what the hell drew me to see 300?
There were many reasons.
The first: I was graciously invited by a fellow from the gym who had recommended it highly.
The second and third:
I'm not going to lie to you. If this had been a World War II picture and the soldiers were all running around France covered up in fatigues, I don't think I'd have been interested.
The official title is 300; but me, I'll always think of it as 600+. Yeah, there was occasional female nipplage, too, but I quickly figured out that if I squinted those parts just looked like a Tressamé commerical.
Before the lights dimmed, I found myself conflicted about which side to back. The intended heroes are the Spartans, of course. But my Middle Eastern ancestry gave me a certain sympathy for the Persians. I decided to withhold my allegiance until I got a look at both kings.
Leading the Spartans, you have 300's central character, Leonidas. He bears a startling resemblance to the soi-disant Mask of Agamemmnon excavated by Schliemann at Mycenae:
Leonidas is tough but tender, with great nobility of character. He also has an ass upon which one could serve breakfast, lunch, dinner, afternoon tea, and a midnight snack. (I regret that I have not a picture of the ass to show you.)
All admirable qualities, and I was prepared to root for Leonidas and His Merry Men. Then, after a bunch of fuss and botheration and decapitation, Xerxes showed up, carried in by slaves on his own traveling Ziegfeld staircase:
dressed in a get-up that was clearly an homage to supergay disco legend Sylvester:
The word "fabulous" simply shrivels and dies when confronted with such as this.
How on earth is a man to choose?
There was a too-brief moment in which it looked as though the two forces might merge
and render the question moot. But just when the wokka-chikka music should have started, somebody threw a spear or something and then Leonidas bellowed again and we were back to serial decapitations in slow-mo.
Even though I knew *SPOILER ALERT!* the Spartans were going to wind up as shish kabob, ultimately I finally found myself howling for Big Daddy Leonidas. Xerxes was a little too much the posing Pretty Boy for my taste, though I'd consider doing him in exchange for his earrings.
To my great surprise, I enjoyed 300 from start to finish. Granted, it lacks certain things. Character development, for one. And it would have been nice to see the Spartans actually making out with one another between battles. However, as my companion for the evening suggested, we have but to wait patiently for the pornographic director's cut on DVD.
As they say in Sparta, "Arrrrooooooooooooooooooo."