Trash or Treasure: 300
“Trash or Treasure” is a new recurring feature at Gordon and the Whale in which I return to a film that holds a special place in my heart (for a multitude of possible reasons) - and see if it is still deserving of that place. Have I been holding on to a piece of trash, or are my beloved films still bonafide treasure?
There aren't a lot of movies that I remember the opening dates of, and admittedly this is one that I only remember because I started the day job I currently hold the day after 300 had its Thursday midnight premiere on March 9th, 2007. Yes, I was due to start a new job that I was kinda nervous about at the time and yet, I was so excited at the thought of seeing this movie, the amount of fatigue I would feel at the first day of a new job didn't bother me. I HAD to see this movie, and I had to see it as soon as I possibly could.
At the time, I wasn't as in tune with the movie world as I (arguably) am now, and I wasn't as excited to see this film because of who directed it, but more so because this is the first film to be based on a Frank Miller graphic novel since SIN CITY, and I loved SIN CITY. Zack Snyder was an alright enough director to be excited about at the time, I liked DAWN OF THE DEAD, but this being his second major film it was too early to know how much of his signature slow-mo vis effects I'd be subjecting myself to.
The initial verdict as to whether or not I had made a wise decision to put at risk the quality of the work I could do at my new day job mere hours after seeing 300 was that it was totally worth it! Great characters, clever writing, cool effects - I loved every minute of the film. I even really dug the performances turned in by Gerard Butler, Lena Heady and Dominic West. I felt the narration was a great companion piece to the amazing fight scenes and creative-looking creatures that the Spartan soldiers were facing, and although it was made similar to how SIN CITY was made, the final look of the film still felt like an original idea.
It's also impossible to talk about 300 and ignore the fact that the dudes in the movie were pretty jacked up and insanely ripped. I'd be lying if I didn't say I didn't get on the Internet weeks after the film had come out and typed "300 workout" in Google just to find out how those guys had gotten themselves to look like that. I was inspired to do some of those workouts myself because, you know, I figured it would help out in the (lack 0f) girlfriend department. Needless to say, I never did end up doing the workouts.
I chose this film for the column because SUCKER PUNCH is still relatively fresh in people's minds, and while the reviews for that film were largely negative, in watching 300 for this piece I came a conclusion about Zack Snyder. If 300 was a work that never did anything for you entertainment-wise, and you found it easy to mock Zack Snyder's visual style and signature trends, then there isn't going to be very much of his work beyond this film that you will end up liking. Earlier I mentioned that 300's look felt like an original style and, for that film, it was. When WATCHMEN and SUCKER PUNCH came out, I realized that's just what Snyder's style looks like and I, for one, have always liked it, although it no longer feels original.
As for the viewing of this film as a whole for this piece? Everything about this film for me still works on the same level it did as when I first saw it. King Leonidas is still a character I like watching on screen, and I had completely forgotten that Michael Fassbenderplays Stelios, one of the main soldiers who has arguably the coolest line of the film "Then we will fight in the shade.". Fassbender is quickly becoming a favorite actor of mine, and this was a pleasant surprise to realize.
Yup, it all still works for me, as has everything Zack Snyder has done since. I liked SUCKER PUNCH and WATCHMEN and I even really liked LEGEND OF THE GUARDIANS. It's easy to mock Snyder's love of slow-mo, I may even be guilty of it from time to time, but the fact of the matter is that I dig that style. I don't necessarily enjoy his films because they are particularly well written or have very deep characters, but there aspects of this film that I've always like that are present in all of his other films. 300 still fills me with happy memories of my initial theater experience and my enthusiasm of the multiple times I've purchased the film on several different formats make the verdict in this entry of Trash or Treasure a pretty clear one.
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