Last night I watched 300 for the third time. (I started watching it with Kelley; halfway through she fell asleep. Sadly, blood and bellowing and the bluescreen ballet-of-death don't delight her.)
300 is awesome. As long as you don't require realism in any sense: fight physics, character development, history.
I haven't read the Frank Miller/Lynn Varley graphic novel but there are a handful of scenes in the film that I know in my bones are visual set pieces lifted from the book: kicking the emissary down the hole; the tree of dead villagers; the tumble of Persians off the cliff. (Those familiar with the book please correct me. Also, feel free to describe other scenes common to film and book.) I'm also pretty sure that the book probably had more male nudity. Perhaps less female nudity--or perhaps not. But this is Hollywood, a reality where all girls have naked nipples and no boys have penises (or even bare bums--yay for red cloaks).
I found the endless rippling abdominals and little leather man panties very amusing. It's pleasing to see boys treated as eye candy for a change. (I couldn't decide how many of the six-packs were fake. Anyone know?) I didn't like the fact that all the characters (I use the word loosely) involved in girl-on-girl action were disfigured. I didn't think much of the monsters--I couldn't get them to make sense when the rest of the film stuck to pseudo-realism (are they in the book?). The orgy scene sucked. (No pun intended.) Why don't film makers pay attention to orgy continuity? Without continuity, the whole thing becomes senseless: we see a woman sliding down another woman *before* they've locked eyes. We see women magically reclothed *after* they've begun to have sex. No continuity = no story. Without a story to tell ourselves, we don't feel the sexual tension. No sexual tension in a filmed orgy = pointlessness.
But, oooh, the violence was *awesome*. I am a sucker for the all-or-nothing, beserk-in-battle, do-or-die-with-swords, one-against-an-army motif. (My favourite Xena episode was "One Against an Army.") I love witnessing people commit. The best part? No angst. Everyone knew what was right (for them) and behaved accordingly. No dithering. Fabulous.
It was fun, too, imagining fanboy emotional distress as Big Boy Xerxes stood suggestively behind Little Leonidas and talked in his creepy bass about kneeling. The symbolism of Leonidas finally piercing his enemy with a spear (then dying before anyone could Do Anything Bad to him) was not lost on me.
And of course it's cool to think (again, I use the word loosely) that a storyteller could make such a difference. I expect I'll watch this yet again in a few months.