Manliest. Movie. EVER!!!
And if you didn't, you should!
Because it's the Manliest. Movie. EVER!!!
Costing about $60 million, they hoped for an opening in the mid-30s. As the first midnight shows were selling out (especially at IMAX), forcing 2:30 am shows to be scheduled, the most optimistic forecasts for this feature with no well-known stars were raised to about $50 million.
And it took in $72 million that opening weekend!
Which was more than the next top nine movies combined.
This weekend it brought in another $31 million and stayed at number 1, which is being reported as a relatively steep (though not unexpected) drop -- however its total domestic total is now $128 million which means it actually stayed unusually strong Monday-Thursday adding a whopping additional $25 million between the weekends!
Word of mouth. Audiences can't get enough of this unapologetic ode to honor, courage, sacrifice, and slaughter of eastern invaders for the preservation of Western civilization.
Though "operatic" in its visual approach, the story is historically rather accurate about the Spartan-led defense of Greece 2,500 years ago, without which the Golden Age to which we owe so much would never have happened.
All because of a real man, King Leonidas of Sparta, and his 300 loyal warriors, standing against at least a quarter of a million invaders.
And the Marxists would have us believe the "Great Man" theory of history is silly!
What is even more fascinating is the reaction of the critics, who though grudgingly admitting the movie's craft, seem appalled at the "message" that sometimes, fighting is necessary. They can't believe there is no irony or anti-war theme as subtext!
The best, and lamest, they can come up with, is to sputter, "ah, ok, Bush is Xerxes!"
They are fundamentally uncomfortable with the resurgence of the notion of what it means to be manly. This movie is just too unrepentantly masculine for the sensitive new-age guys who came of age when Alan Alda's MASH character became the sexiest man alive.
The USA Today reviewer calls it "a quasi-mythical tale of valor and sacrifice", except it's the kind of "myth" that, you know, actually happened in real life history.
Movie Mom's review suggests,
That these stories span thousands of years of history should remind us of our failure to honor the memories of those who have died by learning how to prevent the need for such sacrifices.Huh? Prevent the need? That's a nice sentiment, but how do you do that? The god-king demands you kneel; how do you prevent sacrifices at that point? By trying to find a compromise where you only have to kneel on one knee instead of two? This is stupid "can't we all get along" appeasement twaddle.
From the NY Times review, for example, it is "twice as stupid" as Apocalypto but just as violent, a "bombastic spectacle of honor and betrayal" appealing only to devotees of the homoerotic or of video games. The reviewer is bothered by the lack of PC alterations, so that horrifically, "It may be worth pointing out that unlike their mostly black and brown foes, the Spartans and their fellow Greeks are white." The review descends into even more snarky pettiness from there, concluding it will at best become "an object of camp derision."
The Slate reviewer is aghast at
"a textbook example of how race-baiting fantasy and nationalist myth can serve as an incitement to total war", and elaborates that
no one involved—not Miller, not Snyder, not one of the army of screenwriters, art directors, and tech wizards who mounted this empty, gorgeous spectacle—seems to have noticed that we're in the middle of an actual war. With actual Persians (or at least denizens of that vast swath of land once occupied by the Persian empire).Oh, the horror!
One of the few war movies I've seen in the past two decades that doesn't include at least some nod in the direction of antiwar sentiment, 300 is a mythic ode to righteous bellicosity.
And here's a common "observation":
Here are just a few of the categories that are not-so-vaguely conflated with the "bad" (i.e., Persian) side in the movie: black people. Brown people. Disfigured people. Gay men (not gay in the buff, homoerotic Spartan fashion, but in the effeminate Persian style).I find it fascinating that so many critics find the buff manly men of Sparta to be "gay."
What an inversion! Just as the word "gay" has been robbed of its original meaning, so too now elite society sees true old-fashioned manliness as only existing anymore as a gay stereotype; "real" men, apparently, are supposed to be what, exactly, these days? Couch potatoes? Sensitive metrosexuals that don't do physical conflict anymore?
Now let me just say, I know all about filmmakers commonly slipping in sly homosexual nods all over the place, but the Spartans were not portrayed that way at all, in spite of their semi-clothed depiction whose interpretation is simply vulgarized by the classless critics. Instead, though not "historically" true (they would have had more armor) it is in the heroic mold of how the ancient greeks themselves would have depicted the event in art. Which is why they were drawn that way in the Graphic Novel on which the movie was based, nearly frame for frame.
Much as I loved 300, I was unimpressed, for example, with Gladiator, and didn't even bother to see Troy or Alexander because I knew they would be too gay!
An amusing blog exchange here observes,
“It’s like all the lily-livered liberal film critics in America put the same nine criticisms in a hat (video game, comic book, homophobic, white skin good/dark skin bad, warmongering, misogynist, too loud, too slow, too serious, Godwin’s Law violation), drew them out in random order, and made that their review.”Yep! Though I'd add, when not calling it homophobic, they were also calling it homoerotic! They really didn't know what to make of it at all.
Here the movie's "operatic" style is defended by the eminent historian Victor Davis Hanson.
Here are comments from the director. I was pleased that here the director confirms that a scene in which I said to myself, "that looks like a moment from Excalibur!" (another of my favorite movies), was indeed meant as a reference to that movie.
And finally, now that you, the public, have spoken (because critics don't buy movie tickets), this Hollywood scriptwriter has made the following amusing comments about the impact this will have:
Since about, oh, Sept. 12, 2001, every writer, producer, director and suit in Hollywood has known one sure rule: Don't make fun of our so-called "enemies."Well get to it!
Don't stereotype them as bad guys. Don't mock their beliefs. Don't even mention their names. And for heaven's sake, don't make them mad.
Instead, try to understand them. Celebrate their diversity. And realize that - in a world where black is really white, up is really down, an attack is really self-defense and self-defense is really a provocation - we are actually the enemy.
Out went any script that ascribed anything but the purest of motives to Arabs, Iranians and Muslims. Back came everybody's favorite villains: ex- and neo-Nazis (I haven't met any, but I hear they're everywhere) and crazed Christian fundamentalists, lurking out there in flyover country, itching to pull the triggers to establish a theocracy in a country we all know perfectly well was founded by unarmed vegetarian multicultural atheists.
So we make films like "Kingdom of Heaven," in which the Christian ruler of Jerusalem becomes a hero by surrendering the Holy Land to the noble Saladin.
But now "300" has got the whole town buzzing. Graphic novelist Frank Miller, director Zack Snyder and a couple of other writers pulled in $74 million last weekend with a gory retelling of the Spartans' defense at Thermopylae, a handful of brave warriors standing up against the limitless central-Asian hordes - iron men vs. effeminate oriental voluptuaries; patriots against robotic slaves.
The only studies Hollywood ever initiates are when movies like "300" open unexpectedly big and execs have to interrupt their weekends to get 10 scripts just like it on their desks by Monday morning and in production by Friday afternoon.
Still, something strange is going on: When, early in the film, a sneering Persian emissary insults King Leonidas' hot wife, threatens the kingdom and rages about "blasphemy," the king kicks him down a bottomless well. And yet nobody in Sparta asks, "Why do they hate us?" and seeks to find common ground with the Persians on their doorstep. Why not?
So that noise you heard blowing from the west this week was hundreds of writers from Playa del Rey to Santa Barbara, sticking their fingers in the air to see if the wind's suddenly shifted, wondering if we can shelve our metrosexual "Syriana" and "Babel" knockoffs and conjure up some good old-fashioned "men of the West" material.
Because the dirty little secret is, we used to write these movies all the time. Impossible odds. Quixotic causes. Death before surrender. Real all-American stuff, in which our heroes stood up for God and country and defending Princess Leia and getting back home to see their wives and children, with their shields or on them.
And the dirtier little secret is: We loved writing them.
Not long ago -- up until last weekend, in fact -- it appeared it was simply impossible to tell the stories of the successes in the GWOT because it would necessarily require depicting basically Western men (and women! oh, the humiliation!) blowing away the Noble Brown Man of the Third World.
And there are many fantastic real stories to tell about the GWOT that cry out to be made into movies.
Perhaps they will, now.
Until then, enjoy this satisfying clip.