Disclaimer: What I saw was not a finished film, but I believe that it is far enough along for compliments and criticisms to be dished out. For the reasons above, I’m going to try and keep my comments fairly broad. I think the cut is where they want it (for now), but some of the shots were not fully rendered and the sound design still needs a lot of attention. The cut that I saw had a temp score as well so I am anxious to hear where Tyler Bates decides to go with the actual score. Judging by the temp they are going more Gladiator than contemporary…which is a good move in my opinion. This review won’t be as entertaining as a Vern review, but it is an honest assessment of the film in its current state. Nevertheless, here is a breakdown of the elements of the film and my reactions: THE STORY: There will be some mild spoilers in this section, but nothing that is going to take anything away from the film. The movie starts out with a brief intro of what a Spartan is and how they are trained. Personally, I would have liked to see more of this. The questionably cast narrator (as a stand alone I think the narration is great, I’m just concerned his voice doesn’t work with the rest of the film) says that at the end of their training that they are “tossed into the wild, left to pit his wits and will against natures furry…he would return a Spartan, or not at all.” Not only is this one of the dozens of cream your shorts lines in the film, I think this could be a movie in and of itself. Unfortunately, it is just the first 5 minutes of this one. For the next 20 minutes there is a lot of political talk that sets up the story. The people of Sparta are happy with their lives and the peace that they live in, but the Persians are advancing. An elite group, called Spartans, decide to stop the advance themselves since the Spartan army can fight only if the politicians decide that it’s necessary. This leads to a very poignant moment between King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) and his wife (Lena Headey) just before the Spartans go off to battle. This is a great scene and it makes the insanity of these 300 soldiers fighting 250,000+ Persian soldiers believable and justifiable…not to mention it gave this geek chills. From this point on the film is just one massive battle after another peppered with scenes of the goings on inside the Sparta government. The battles do get tiresome in time and the movie begins to lag a bit. The style of the film and the investment in the characters is what keeps it moving along. 300 is a very straightforward story but it is not my place to fill you in on where it goes so I am going to stop here. I would guess that those of you reading this know the general story of the film anyways. THE ACTING/THE WRITING: Let me start off by saying that Butler is absolutely perfect for this role…he really nails it. He even has some very cheesy dialog that he is able to completely pull off. The heavy-handed dialog proves too much for some of the actors though and it comes out corny and unassured. However, since the whole film plays like a meticulously crafted graphic novel, even the mis-spoken dialog is mostly forgivable and at times almost charming. The script is solid but more attention paid to the adolescent Spartan and slightly more to the epilogue instead of the 1hr+ of fighting would have been beneficial. THE PHOTOGRAPHY: Oddly, this is where both my biggest compliments and my biggest complaints lie. Let me start off by saying that this film is a monumental artistic achievement. At times I was so distracted by how beautiful the shots and compositions were that I actually stopped paying attention to what was being said in some of the scenes. The freedom of the green screen shoot allowed the artists to create an amazing world and, although it is based on our world, it is something we have never seen before. With that said, let me get to my biggest criticism. There are a lot of shots that seem “small”. A number of the shots seem like there need to be a lot more people in them (sometimes the 300 looks more like the 40). This is where the green screen can be a killer since the only depth in the shots comes from what can be created by the effects artists. I found on several occasions that this two-dimensionality took me out of the otherwise great film. Instead of paying attention to the story, I was more concerned with where the hell everyone else was. This problem goes beyond the number of people in the composition though and has more to do with the depth of field and just an overall feeling of space. Along those lines, I didn’t feel there were enough “scope” shots. Although it looked amazing I was reminded too often that this is a green screen movie. Since the film isn’t finished it is very possible that these issues will be fixed, but it was a major problem I had with the film. CONCLUSION: Overall, this is a great film that, along with Sin City and Sky Captain, will change everything. Despite what some thought, I think what Zack Snyder did with Dawn of the Dead was inspired. He really takes his game to a whole new level with this film. I can only imagine that the people that truly care about how this film turns out will be overjoyed to see the final product. When it’s all said and done, Snyder pulls it off…and I couldn’t be more excited to see what he does with The Watchmen.
Nov. 15, 2006, 5:24 p.m. CST
by Captain RawBeard
Nov. 15, 2006, 5:25 p.m. CST
by Captain RawBeard
My first First - cant wait for this film - looks amazing
Nov. 15, 2006, 5:27 p.m. CST
The battle of Thermopylae is one of the most epic stories ever, mix in Frank Miller, and I'll have blue balls until opening night
Nov. 15, 2006, 5:33 p.m. CST
Michael Bay is the sexiest bean pole tomboy...
Nov. 15, 2006, 5:35 p.m. CST
I think I creamed my pants five times over. I'm too stoked for this film. Throw me off a cliff!
Nov. 15, 2006, 5:40 p.m. CST
for the junior high and high school crowd
Nov. 15, 2006, 5:44 p.m. CST
over a good michael bay any day...
Nov. 15, 2006, 5:44 p.m. CST
It nailed the old serials perfectly. It's a crying shame the story simply wasn't there. The beat weaknesses -- such as the camera running out of film, the Bond-like airplane, etc. All horrible. But those giant robots trekking through Time Square as Obi Wan pulled a Skywalker -- loved it. <P>If this 300 flick can capture the look of an Argonauts era period piece (with a Sin City visual upgrade) then I think that hurts the film only if it also carries a weak story. I doubt this is the case given that I've read 300. Way looking forward to it.
Nov. 15, 2006, 5:49 p.m. CST
by Fabulous Freak
Like Frazetta art brought to life. As for Sky Captain, the concept is great, but I cant even sit through it. Got it on HD DVD thinking it would bring out its strengths, but it still looks like i'm looking through vaseline smeared glasses.
Nov. 15, 2006, 6 p.m. CST
Sky Captain didn't, neither did Sin City. As much as I liked both of those movies, they might as well have been called Green Screen: The Movie. It's hard for the eye to get past that green screen look. I'm still looking forward to this, but I would have much preferred Michael Mann's Gates of Fire, shot on film.
Nov. 15, 2006, 6:02 p.m. CST
It makes for a better story, but there were plenty of Greeks fighting there, it was just the Spartans that really did the final stand.
Nov. 15, 2006, 6:05 p.m. CST
by Childe Roland
...cool book. Dugg the hell out of the new Dawn and have really enjoyed reading interviews with him abou adapting much beloved comic properties (like the 300 and Watchmen). Here's hopin ghe goes 2 for 2 with this one and then nails the trifecta with Watchmen down the road.
Nov. 15, 2006, 6:21 p.m. CST
is it warm and moist?
Nov. 15, 2006, 6:24 p.m. CST
by Red Ned Lynch
Mind you, my dream version of this story would have been made by John Milius as his follow-up to Conan. And considering the lack of subtext in Snyder's remake of Dawn I'm not sure he's the guy to bring out the depth of the sacrifice and bravery these guys showed in their lonely mountain pass at Thermopylae. I mean come on..."A Spartan leaves the field with his shield or upon it"? That said, and with some small trepidation, Snyder did a much better job with his Dawn remake than I would have ever believed possible, lack of subtext aside. And whatever his strengths and weaknesses, he does seem to really love the projects he takes on. And I've always loved the story of the stand at Thermopylae, ever since I was a little kid. So here's hoping.
Nov. 15, 2006, 6:34 p.m. CST
Sky Captain was kind of okay. I still don't see why everyone loves Sin City. I thought it was pretty terrible. That doesn't have anything to do with the greenscreening; it's just a bad movie. Although, I don't think we've quite reached the point where effects can beat location work. I'll take something real and good over something fake and almost as good anyday. CGI still just can't quite capture the depth and, well, reality, of real backgrounds. That said, I think this film looks pretty good, and everything Snyder's said about Watchmen has been right.
Nov. 15, 2006, 6:33 p.m. CST
Look, here's the facts. If you think the trailer looked cool, more power to you. But the VAST majority of people I associate with laughed when they saw it. On the tiny PC monitor it looked like SCI-FI channcel quality, but magnified on the BIG BIG screen it looked even worse. It looked like soundstaged television. That being said, I hope it's entertaining...<be> <BR> Change everything? Sky Captain was absolute SHIT. Just dripping, garbage-laden shit. The acting was terrible, the effects were bad, everything even remotely about it was derivative crap. <BR> <BR> SIN CITY, on the other hand, was great. It wasn't great beause of the CGI backgrounds, or lack of realism...it was great because it had great characters who lived and breathed in their environment... even when the graphics didn't look great, the entire package was more than it's sum total...it was radically entertaining. <br> <BR> So with grace I'll wait for the movie. But the trailer was BAD, BAD, BAD. The acting looked terrible, and the slow-motion fight scenes looked stupid, and there was nothing remotely butch about any of it....but it still could be fun. OR...it could be the next Riddick. Time will tell. I'm just judging the TRAILER (not the film). Also, the Dawn remake was much, much better than it had any right to be (considering the source).
Nov. 15, 2006, 6:59 p.m. CST
Ha! Change jack shit. Ultimately forgettabel b/c it was such a shitty movie. Give me a freakin' break! The Phantom Menace had more going for it in the steaming pile that was Jar-Jar Binks, then Sky Captain had in its entirety. So forgettable I cringe when I even have to read it's name...
Nov. 15, 2006, 7:07 p.m. CST
by Leafy McPlantsalot
I saw this movie last week and feel it is the best movie ever made.
Nov. 15, 2006, 7:07 p.m. CST
There is a test screening of this tomorrow night at the Winnetka theater in Northridge for all you San Fernando Valley people. For all you people wondering where the SFV is, it's in California. Lately, they have recruiting for these screenings up until the last minute at the designated theaters. So if you are near the Winnetka theater tomorrow night, give it a shot. Aim for 5:30p.m. to ensure a ticket gets placed in your mitts.
Nov. 15, 2006, 7:18 p.m. CST
Movies should MOVE -- not feel stuck on a green screen stage to recreate comic panels. I hope 300 goes beyond this, but by the end of the trailer I was too aware of the artifice. I can't even watch the Star Wars prequels for this reason (and others, too).
Nov. 15, 2006, 8:06 p.m. CST
...fucking blow peoples minds away with Jim Cameron and Arnold as a cyborg. Follow this link http://www.thearnoldfans.com/news/1070.htm
Nov. 15, 2006, 8:14 p.m. CST
Sin City felt like an animated read along book, not a real movie. When a comic is so meticulously translated to the big screen you show not only the strenths of the narrative but also its weaknesses. I watched Sin City once and never care to sit through it again, I'll just reread the graphic novels. Sky Captain had its faults but I loved it for what it got right.
Nov. 15, 2006, 8:28 p.m. CST
by Neo Technic
Just wanted to get that out there.
Nov. 15, 2006, 8:50 p.m. CST
by CTU Mole
Nov. 15, 2006, 9:23 p.m. CST
girls in my fifth grade class loved Leif Erikson, with his flowing blond locks on the covers of "Bananas" magazine, and . . . Oh, wait. Wrong Leif.
Nov. 15, 2006, 9:35 p.m. CST
Come and take them.
Nov. 15, 2006, 10:03 p.m. CST
I admire the, um, effort. The behind the scenes DVD is very revealing (yet painful at the same time), but... It wasn't even a movie. It was barely even a exercise in story telling at all. Honestly, it was just pure nothing. Sin City? A total blast. Yet, as this review points out, many of these directors don't understand depth of field. Watch an older Tony or any Ridley Scott film. Everything is flat, and thus much more real to our recognition.
Nov. 16, 2006, 1:16 a.m. CST
Like the actors are performing a play? That happens with King Kong on HD-DVD. The scenes are so sharp and clear. That it actually hurts the special effects. Giving outdoor scenes an indoor set feel.
Nov. 16, 2006, 1:18 a.m. CST
I try to give it a chance, even on HD recently. I thought it might help. But it has a blah feel to it. Like I'm watching a boring cut scene on some video game. The characters just aren't fun and the whole world looks brown.
Nov. 16, 2006, 4:27 a.m. CST
[snicker]<p>'like a finely crafted graphic novel' Hmmm, now why would that be?
Nov. 16, 2006, 4:49 a.m. CST
Freak, I think you'll find it looks more like Frank Miller art brought to life. :^)<p>jimmy, as the film is true to the graphic novel, expect to see a little of the roughly 7000 other greeks at the battle, but the story is mainly about the Spartans, obviously.<p>Red Ned, the 'with shield or upon it' was the actual credo of the Spartan warriors, not something made up!
Nov. 16, 2006, 4:51 a.m. CST
Whilst CGI is not quite up to rendering realism perfectly, the whole point of Sin City and 300 is NOT to look real, but to capture the stylistic and beautiful artwork of the Frank Miller works they're based on, which they both (300 seems to from the awesome trailer, anyway) do perfectly. But if you realy didn't like Sin City (weirdo :P ) then you may well not like 300 either.<p>odysseus - "Is slavish devotion to a graphic novel a good thing?" - depends on the graphic novel. :^)<p>stoopider? stoopider.<p>Anyway, enough pimping Frank Miller like his cock's up my arse, back to work. :(
Nov. 16, 2006, 7:06 a.m. CST
and i'm all about this film
Nov. 16, 2006, 9:55 a.m. CST
by Mr. Nice Gaius
Quote: "LOTR is just a huge big homo-erotic fuckfest between Frodo and Sam". *** Yeah, except there is NO fucking in it. What a homophobic douchebag.
Nov. 16, 2006, 10:43 a.m. CST
there are countless films in the last 10 years that contain almost 100% digital backgrounds or background elements that are perfectly real - at least to the point of no one even noticing...Sin City, Sky Capt. and 300 are not even attempting to be photorealistic...but rather stylistic... almost all the bitching about CG in film/TV is because there are too many filmakers who don't know what the fuck they are doing...or they do know what they are doing but just do it badly...like anything else CG is a tool...to be used well or badly....
Nov. 16, 2006, 1:46 p.m. CST
Really, can he even think after all the 'rdugs'?
Nov. 16, 2006, 1:59 p.m. CST
It is an incredibly annoying word. I once dumped a pretty girl because she would always say that. It makes you sound stupid.
Nov. 16, 2006, 3:42 p.m. CST
That Sky Captain SUCKED horribly.
Nov. 16, 2006, 5:36 p.m. CST
raw_bean's right - but it's the odds, the numbers, that makethe story of Thermopylae so resonant through the ages; the sheer heroism of a pitifully, insanely small force (a few thousand) holding an overwhelmingly superior force (some accounts say up to 1,000,000 soldiers) at bay, in a strategic bottleneck, for three days.<p>it was the story of this heroism from the Spartans and their allies that inspired the Greek nations to unite and defend their land against the Persian invaders. *every* Greek kid is told this story to this day - it is a source of immense national pride to them.<p>so yeah, it was more than 300, but like 30 ants instead of 3 versus your foot. yet they still fought and held the Persians for three days. that's one hell of a heroic story.<p>Go tell the Spartans!
Nov. 17, 2006, 1:10 p.m. CST
miscasting of Jude Law. Heck, i wanted a HERO not some bloody skinny wimp with a RADA accent. Now, Daniel Craig as Sky Captain..? Oh, yes, i forgot he already has a franchise FOR LIFE (if he wants it).