‘300’ wins the battle of the box office

Ben Raymond

I am definitely a man. I’ve checked. I enjoy typical manly fare: football, red meat, wet t-shirt contests and the like. And, as a man, I also should have liked “300.” It’s teeming with grunting, blood and nudity. And we all know life is all about grunting, blood and nudity. But where other films have been exemplars of exploitation and damnable superfluity, “300” falls well short of philistine immortality. It fails to thrill on even the basest of levels and achieves little more than an amateurish monotony intoxicated in an obnoxious, digitally-enhanced stupor. In other words, this movie sucks.

Based on the graphic novel by “Sin City” mastermind Frank Miller, “300” is an indulgent, sangrine ambrosia of testosterone, entrails and man-boobs. The story is based loosely on the ancient battle of Thermopylae, in which 300 Spartan warriors, led by King Leonidas (Gerard Butler), battled between 300,000 and one million Persians to save Greece – and subsequently Western civilization as we know it. It is certainly one of the most important and storied events in human history. Unfortunately, this film’s depiction is neither. It is a bombastic, apish exercise in futility, and I hate it.

Writing about what makes this movie suck like nobody’s business is like trying to get out of Iraq: too many problems and you don’t know where to start. But, I have to begin somewhere.

The battle sequences are redundantly redundant and redundant. How many times am I expected to be impressed by yet another pissed-off Spartan skewering yet another heedless, yelping Persian? OK, it was marginally exciting … the first 47 times. Minutes upon excruciating minutes of the most senseless and impotent action in film infamy do nothing to enthrall, enliven or enthuse but, instead, offer audiences more than sufficient reason to take a nap or, even better, gouge their eyeballs out with a spork.

Many would argue that the sheer volume of visual effects alone would make the movie entertaining. Many would be wrong. There is nothing new here. It has all been done before. The CGI is not mystifying; it’s distracting. It is an unpolished, synthetic veil of wanton tomography that serves only to enhance the gratuitous absurdity buried beneath. I’ve seen screensavers more exciting than this!

Unlike the visceral, artfully calamitous “Sin City” of two years ago, “300” was neither written nor directed by the creator, Miller. As a result, those hoping for marathon monologues and Homeric poeticism will be sorely disappointed. You’ll be stuck, again … with writer/director Zack Snyder.

I have a couple questions for you, Zack. How many hours of Chuck Norris and World of Warcraft did it take to digest what scrap creativity producers supposed you possessed when they gave you the green light to excrete this throbbing, white-hot

turd? Have you ever experienced thrilling filmmaking, or were you too busy making your spacesuit and fantasizing about being Wonder Woman’s hair stylist? I want my eight bucks back.

The whole screenplay is so hideously overcooked that it’s charred beyond recognition with histrionic ranting. The writing and delivery is so sophomoric, so hideously overdone, I think even the most whimsical of language would pass as powerful.

I can just imagine the Spartan army assembled, ready for the king’s impassioned words before they march to their death:

“Men of Sparta, unite! Tonight, we dine in Hell!” The men cheer fiercely.

“I scream! You scream! We all scream … for ice cream!”

I swear, this would work just as well.

I can see only two types of people that would enjoy this film: the most carnal and indifferent of moviegoers and those who, despite all the applesauce, enjoy a good, perfectly-sculpted man-warrior with a huge spear. Pick your poison. “300” is a limp, half-flaccid attempt at enthrallment.