Sometimes Action Movies are so bad, they're
good; really good. Not here. I really wanted to like this. It
had a female villain, epic sea battles, men in leather bikinis,
gnarly kills, and amazing CGI landscapes, so what happened?
Well, let's see. When the familiar phrase commanded
me to "Put on your 3-D glasses now", I replied "Beefcake
me!" (not out loud, of course) and we were off . . .
Then, my first thought was "Who chose
that guy as the lead?" This is a 300 movie?!
They must have left the word "muscles" off the casting call.
Don't get me wrong, Sullivan Stapleton's a good looking guy, but he's
just average build, and scruffy is just not a good look for him.
Plus, none of the actors were what I expected. They're
just average guys.
Jack O'Connell looks like he belongs
in a boy band. Scrawny arms, slouching
posture . . . he's not even soldier material, let alone
Super Soldier, and neither was anyone else
except the bald bearded messenger with the weird floppy nipples
who rode up on a horse, and Xerxes ('King Strut').
soon realized Sullivan Stapletonhas messed up teeth and
this affects his speaking voice, especially when he's acting
angry. For me, it was Christian Bale's
lisping Batman all over again. What's he saying? So much dialogue! It became hard not to stare at
his most prominent bottom tooth (even with his mouth barely
open, there it is saying hello . . . ).
in 300 B.D.C. (Before Dental Care), Stapleton isn't the only
actor who's dentally challenged. I couldn't understand David Wenham
either. One of the casting requirements seems to have been too
many teeth, cause the actors slur and spit their way
through the passages of dialogue. It's not so much
conversation as exposition. (Get on with it! This is supposed
to be an Action Movie.)
answered the question: What if you could make a big CGI movie with
thousands of extras, costumes, and props, but cast your mates
from the local pub in the lead roles? Then get some actress whose boobs
you've always wanted to see, and use a script by . . . I heard "Avast!" in there
somewhere . . . Who wrote this? Zack Snyder. Okay. He
wrote/directed 300, no complaints, but this . . . He really
shouldn't be allowed to write for women. He seems to be a woman
hater but he thinks he's getting it right (like in
A woman who watched her mother get raped
and killed, and is then used as a fuck doll is never going to
allow an enemy inside her. Never going to use her sexuality as
power and would rather die than have sex with them. This would
defeat all the power she has gained and everything she lived
through. It's incredible to me that a movie could depict the bad
treatment of women (rape and murder), and then think it's okay
to have the heroine live through that only to have bare breasted
sex on screen. If the first thing is wrong, certainly the second
is. Objectifying women in this way (the fact that she's a leader
is canceled out by sexualizing her) is what leads to the rape
and killing of women. But enough about that. The movie speaks for itself
(badly). [Some of you might argue that it looks this way because
it's inspired by the artwork of Frank Frazetta but that only
enforces my observations. I became a fan of his work through the
Molly Hatchet album covers but his women are just pretty meat.]
When the enemies Artemisia and Themistokles
face off for the final time they don't say things like "You bastard, I'm
going to kill you" or "You evil bitch", they go on about
concepts: "You offered freedom without consequences or
responsibility . . ." I wanted Artemisia to win just to finally shut
Themistokles up. Really, who is willing to fight to the death
only to stop and have an argument? I guess they were a couple,
after having/not having sex once. What the hell was that? Just
an excuse to show Eva Green's boobs I guess. [Here
they are in brass removing any doubt this is a man's movie.] And
sadly, boobs plus blood seems to be enough for most male film
critics. What do they care about the plight of women? They just
want something to whack off to.
I expected there to be more boobs in the movie until I saw the sex scene between Artemisia and Themistocles,
and then I wondered if they held back some because of that. It
was a little ridiculous—my audience laughed. Had Green insisted
on not being exploited and topless, and if there was no sex
scene, it might have been a worthy contribution to the role of
women in Action Movies, but for me it's just another
exploitation that sets us back and keeps us 'in our place' in
the perceived 'man's world'. If, instead of Eva, someone with
true physical strength was chosen, this would have been a very
different movie indeed. But that's my fantasy (strong women in
Action Movies), and clearly this was Zack Snyder's.
Between that and the tacky rape scenes, it
was just dull. Maybe it was exciting for men who hate women, but
it had none of the glory and nobility of the first underdog story, and
none of epic, almost balletic violence. This was crude
hacks and chops and just a series of various kill angles with 2
cups of CGI blood thrown in for every hit. Any kill or cut
seemed to produce the same amount of blood. Thankfully, the
movie consisted mainly of multiple sea battles, and that is
where the Action truly shines.
The first and best epic moment is when we see
the masts of the Persian fleet rise over the swell. Goosebumps.
They did a great job of hyping that, and then . . . fear!
I doubt the Greeks' smaller boats could hold their circular position in a sea
that rough, but . . . suspension of disbelief. The tactical decision
to strike the larger Persian ships from either side was great
was a lot going on in the sea battles: pitch and flaming arrows, and even
turtle-like suicide bombers. On top of all that the boarding and
sword fighting, etc. All fine, until the end when THEY HAD TO
ADD A HORSE! wtf? They barbequed it, then doused it. It
really was the last thing you expected, to have Themistokles
riding from crashed ship to crashed ship. Where did the horse
even come from?
The other epicly breathtaking moment was the
giant moon over the bay with all the stars we can't see because
we live in cities. I thought it was ridiculous that a few
seconds of fog could crash so many ships into the cove, but it
was just an excuse for fighting in a different location (like
levels in a video game). I really also loved the
underwater shots and the sea serpents. Just atmosphere, but in a
movie with so much exposition, visuals were a welcome escape
like going underwater, below the din.
As 'evil queens' go, Artemisia commanded respect for her sword
fighting skills. Young Artemisia's training was interesting.
Kudos to the skills of Jade
Chynoweth. They had to use someone else to show what a fierce warrior
she is. When adult Artemisia beheads a man, then French kisses the head,
I knew it would be all downhill from there. As strong and
smart as her character was, Eva Green seems to have very weak arms.
She looks unused to work, let
along swinging a sword (which to me, she noticeably struggled
with). In so many ways she was just
exactly what I didn't want to see in a female heroine. I loved
her in Casino Royale but this was just too male-fantasy
oriented for me. Her back story was compelling, and seeing her in
charge was great, but my lasting impression is the rape scene
with the young girl crying. So tacky. So gratuitous. So
harmful to women.