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Swansong

300...Am I Crazy?

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This is the review I gave 300. Admittedly... I am biased toward Gerry's performance... but in terms of 300's other elements.... mainstream critics are bashing this film to shreds.

So am I so madly in love with Gerry that my brains are mush, and cannot judge a good film from a bad one?

The same thing happened with Phantom... no other film has shaken me to my core, and no other actor has stolen my heart with such intensity.

Yet THAT movie was bashed far worse than 300... and Gerry's performance HATED by critics.

So what IS it? Why do I see things so differently? Why can't they see in him, what I see... what we all see?

My personal review:

I recall when Gerry was first attached to a film project called 300. Based on a graphic novel by Frank Miller, many of Gerry's fans debated whether a comic book movie was even worthy of our favorite actor. On other boards, fans openly expressed their dismay that Gerry would even consider such an unimportant project, and many of us had no prior exposure to graphic novels, and had no idea who Frank Miller was.

300 enthusiasts spoke up about their doubts that Mr Butler had what it would take to portray the Spartan king Leonidas, I mean after all, isn't this the same guy who played that limp wristed Phantom in the Schumaker box office bomb; the Phantom of the Opera, a corny musical that Butler botched with poor singing and overly dramatic acting? This is the guy who would play the brutal and powerful Leonidas?

Some months later, those same enthusiasts are undoubtedly eating their words. YES boys and girls, the same actor who portrayed the romantic and sexy Phantom (brilliantly in my opinion), now brilliantly wears the red Spartan cape of Leonidas in Zack Snyder's 300.

Let me first say, that I saw this film twice in one day. During the first viewing.... I sat with my mouth literally hanging open throughout the entire, just under 2 hour movie.

There is simply no way I could detach myself from my admiration and love for Gerard Butler, and so throughout that first viewing, I made an emotional investment in watching every move he made; hearing every word he uttered, and worshiping every subtle gesture of his body, and each lift of his darkened eyebrows. It isn't that I did not appreciate the rest of the film, it's that I didn't see it.

I couldn't.

There was our man on that screen in raw pulsating masculine glory, filling my eyes and heart to overflowing. Am I gushing? Oh please do forgive me... I cannot help myself. I never once took my eyes off him!

Later that evening, in my second viewing, I forced myself to take in the entire film; I paid attention to the performances of the other actors, and I became caught up in the very simple and timeless storyline. I am surprised at how truly simple the story of 300 is, and now having seen the film... I can see why there is a growing political backlash against it. This film speaks of causes worth fighting and dying for, and it makes no apologies, as our hero, Leonidas and his boys defend their wives, children, way of life and freedom, against a tyrant who seems bent on taking over the world.

The visual beauty of this film is something I have never before encountered. From scene to scene my senses were stirred by the ancient yet contemporary color wash of sepia, as if the landscapes themselves reflected the flesh and blood at this story's core. I found the CG backdrops beautiful and dreamlike, but they had the unexpected effect of making the whole film seem a bit closed in... a bit claustrophobic, which only served to focus my attention not on the scenery, but on the men and women who inhabited that surreal dreamscape.

I knew every minute I sat in my seat, that this was historical fantasy, and so I tried to just allow myself to be taken on that journey... not looking for reality.

The grainy "old" look of the film was captivating. I loved how it accentuated every freckle, every wrinkle and flaw on the actors skin. Again, this really served to drive home the fact that the humans are not computer generated actors, but very real flesh and blood people.

I found the portrayal of the Persian God-king Xerxes utterly arresting. He is characterized as a creature so drunk on his own self worship that he is more alien and circus freak-show than human. While many have commented on his effete mannerisms, I found him to be more Asexual... neither male nor female... and the scene where he is maimed and bleeds by the point of Leonidas spear is truly a great piece of acting by Rodrigo. I found Xerxes malicious and serpentine.... a myth-like villain right out of Homer's fantastic tales.

There were many scenes that left me breathless; the dance of the oracle, the naked beauty of Leonidas in the moonlight, the intimacy and sexual heat of Gorgo's bed; love and passion consummated in marital tenderness.

The gorgeous and shocking scene of Leonidas chopping and dodging his way through hundreds of men had me on the edge of my seat. The power and grace that appeared to rage in Gerard's body was a beautiful thing to watch.

I loved how the tempo sped up and slowed down, emphasizing what I think may be the unreal and bizarre world soldiers experience on the battlefield. I was drawn in by the action, but for me, it never detracted from the human story.

I did have trouble remembering the names of characters, and can't wait to watch the DVD with subtitles.

Personally... I wish they had added another 20 minutes or so to the film, in order to further flesh out the events leading up to the Persian invasion, and also to illuminate more of the relationship between Leonidas and his queen. I found their love for one another refreshing and even unusual in movies out of Hollywood. A man who remains faithful to his wife, and a wife who will do nearly anything in support of her husband and her country are rarely seen on the silver screen.

Lena Hedley was a proud and beautiful queen Gorgo, and am so thankful to Zack for filling out her character, and for giving her a more important role in this movie, than is portrayed in the graphic novel.

Gerry as the Lion hearted King was spectacular, powerful and unforgettable. As I have said many times, this man portrays more emotion with his eyes than many actors do with their entire body. I loved watching the thought processes of the King flick across his features, as Leonidas considered his options. With a quirk of his mouth, or a muscle jerk in his jaw, he made you see the intelligence of a great man, and you understood why his soldiers were willing to follow him to certain death.

I loved the humorous bits and found myself wondering if Gerry himself had interjected those rare moments of humor in this deadly serious drama. The bit with the apple was priceless... but also a wry commentary on the fact that even during the heat of battle and in the aftermath of death, life does go on all around us.

What can I say about that last scene where he calls out to his queen... His swansong... Just before he faced the barrage of arrows that would not only block out the sun, but snuff out his life. His face and voice conveyed a complex mixture of acceptance and sorrow, as he went to his death, having fulfilled his destiny, and having loved his wife deeply.

On the negative side; David Wenham's vocal performance as narrator was not all it should have been. For me, his voice needed to be colored warmer... And instead, it came off as shrill, which by the end of the film, was distracting.

I am not a fan of fantastical creatures, such as the ones depicted in this film. I didn't care for them in LOTR... And I could have done without them in 300... But I understand that they exist to emphasize the Persian's supposed degenerate culture. Still... I think the film would have been better without those beasts. They were not convincing to me, and only jarred me away from the immediate story.

Over all though, 300 stunned me with its painterly beauty and throbbing passion. Gerry as Leonidas anchored the film and gave the work its much needed soul. It was far more than I expected... even after viewing all the trailers. It is a film I intend to see many more times before it leaves theaters.

Swannie

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Guest greyeyegoddess

Look, when the mainstream is after people like Brittney and Angelina, people who just make money by appearing, not actually working in their crafts, it means less money for me to spend on magazines and other stuff. So they don't get my money, because instead, I'm watching a fantastic movie.

It's the other hundreds of great and wonderful reviews that matter. Why even care about mainstream when mainstream is BORING!

~alice

:music:

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I think you see the movies honestly, they on the other hand have to cut something to shreds and over analyze it.

I loved your review!!!

I love the movie as well, I don't know what their problems are, but I do know some movies that have got stunning reviews from critics I've hated.

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Hollywood, the business of movies, and all that goes with it, from my narrow understanding, is so fickle. It's all about money and elbow rubbing and who knows who. Writers get their stories/scripts reworked and must sell it that way to make any money but their idea was butchered in the process, actors have great scenes/great acting scenes that get cut out to "better the movie", it really just seems like an absolute crap shoot that anyone can get any where!

Not all movies that are raved about by most critics are actually any good, I've noticed that. Then ones I think are excellent film the critics don't care for. Who knows what they are looking for? Is there a set standard by which to grade a film that is unknown to the general public? Critics want recognition as well.

I think it all comes down to money (so sad) and if it's a blockbuster than that speaks volumes, and then the persons investing want the producer, director, actors to do it again and make them more money! But there is no guarantee is there?

I am rambling?! :bonk:

GB was spot on and obviously under Snyders lead he bloomed. :yourock:

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Swannie, great review!

I'll write one up when I get the time (like that'll be anytime soon). But hey, maybe after the second showing, I'll be motivated.

Damn I wanna see it on IMAX again. ~shiver~

And mainstream critics do not get it. It's sad.

I, on the other hand, LOVED the movie. I can't put into words what I think of it. There's no way. You have to see it in theaters to understand what I'm talking about.

And gerry's performance...oh my...only one word comes to mind: FANTABULOUS!!

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Swannie you are good with words and all I can say to your review is Amen no one could have said it better. Betts :claphands::claphands:

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