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Peter T Chattaway

300 (2006)

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Brief behind-the-scenes featurette here.

Frank Miller. (Just so his name is in the body of the thread and not just in the title, where apparently search engines cannot find it. And while I'm at it...)

Zack Snyder.

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According to AICN and CHUD, there's a trailer floating around somewhere on iFilm. I tried looking on YouTube, but no such luck.

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Here's a very low quality version of the trailer, but even so, it's obvious they're going for a very highly-stylized visual look a la Sin City, but even moreso.

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The real trailer is now available (it's somewhat different than the lo-res trailer I linked to before).

If nothing else, it's real purty, and I'm intrigued to see how this plays out in the actual movie. However, the editing (all of that hyper-editing and sudden changes in film speed) makes it look less like a movie, and more like a commercial for some sports or energy drink.

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I tried reading the comic, but didn't make it past the first few pages. The artwork in the comic was a big turn-off. Oddly enough, after seeing the trailer, I wouldn't mind watching this for two hours of eye candy.

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I've seen this trailer about half a dozen times, and each time I watch it, I think, "My goodness that film is homoerotic." I'm not trying to bash it, that is just what runs through my mind. The again, I may be alone.

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A few people have made that remark. What's striking is that there is a line of dialogue in the film where the Spartan king (or one of his aides) dismissively refers to the Athenians as "those boy-lovers". Um, historically, "boy-loving" was very much a Spartan exercise, too. That line seems almost intentionally put there to deflect questions about the sexuality of all these musclebound men.

(I almost wrote, "That line -- and the highly hetero-erotic scene between the king and his wife -- seem almost..." But then I realized that the highly hetero-erotic scene didn't need to be put there for any such strategic reason. It's just a hot'n'heavy sex scene, is all!)

Oh, and note how the court of the Persian king Xerxes is populated by "transsexuals" (at least three of them are singled out in the closing credits) and various other sexual "deviants", not unlike the decadent depictions of Herod's court in movies like Jesus Christ Superstar and The Passion of the Christ.

Is this a case of serving up homo-eroticism under the guise of homophobia? That is, are the filmmakers getting a kick out of pushing gay images in front of a primarily straight audience, but giving the straight audience an escape hatch through which it can always say, "Oh, well, those are just the bad guys"? Or, is something else going on? E.g., just as studies have shown that the more earnest homophobes tend to have homosexual leanings themselves, is all the negative gay stuff in this film evidence that the filmmakers are trying to "repress" something?

Side note: Has anyone else here seen Larry Gonick's The Cartoon History of the Universe? If memory serves, there is a section that deals with the Battle of Thermopylae, and how the Spartans tended to their hair before the last major clash. In one panel, a Persian scout passes news of this on to Xerxes, who replies, "Doing their hair? Do they like little boys, too?" And the scout replies, "Well, um, as a matter of fact..."

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Side note: Has anyone else here seen Larry Gonick's The Cartoon History of the Universe? If memory serves, there is a section that deals with the Battle of Thermopylae, and how the Spartans tended to their hair before the last major clash. In one panel, a Persian scout passes news of this on to Xerxes, who replies, "Doing their hair? Do they like little boys, too?" And the scout replies, "Well, um, as a matter of fact..."

I have most of Gonick's stuff. I will have to look it up, that sounds about right.

I watched a documentary on Sparta once, and I remember it saying that they had a real problem with homosexuality, because a lot of men became conditioned to be sexually attracted to other men. To counter this, because they needed warriors for the city-state, they would shave the heads of newly wedded brides and force the men into a dark room with the woman. I have no idea how wide-spread that was, but I remember the documentary saying it was a common practice.

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A few people have made that remark. What's striking is that there is a line of dialogue in the film where the Spartan king (or one of his aides) dismissively refers to the Athenians as "those boy-lovers". Um, historically, "boy-loving" was very much a Spartan exercise, too. That line seems almost intentionally put there to deflect questions about the sexuality of all these musclebound men.

That line is in the book too. Actually, most of the dialog in the film is virtually verbatim from the graphic novel. (Helps, thought, that I saw the film last night and read the book tonight...)

(I almost wrote, "That line -- and the highly hetero-erotic scene between the king and his wife -- seem almost..." But then I realized that the highly hetero-erotic scene didn't need to be put there for any such strategic reason. It's just a hot'n'heavy sex scene, is all!)

One of the two biggest problems with the adaptation of this book. The queen (and all of her baggage in this film) is given an extended role in the movie; she (and that sub-plot) is virtually non-existent in the book.

The second is the overall look. I'm glad they kept a lot of Miller's ideals in the visual style in the film, but it felt very cold and sterile. Miller's drawings and Varley's coloring have a certain life and depth that was removed in the movie. The digital treatment worked for Sin City, but not as well for this.

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The second is the overall look. I'm glad they kept a lot of Miller's ideals in the visual style in the film, but it felt very cold and sterile. Miller's drawings and Varley's coloring have a certain life and depth that was removed in the movie. The digital treatment worked for Sin City, but not as well for this.

My thoughts exactly. I know that for some, the hyper-stylized visuals enhanced the mythological, fantastical feel of the film. I certainly thought the visuals were stunning, but after awhile, I simply stopped caring beyond a purely technical fascination (as in, "I wonder what algorithms they had to write in order to get the blood to spray that way?). After being beaten over the head by the film's aesthetic, the hyper-realistic, hyper-stylized look actually made it more difficult for me to get into the film, especially considering all of the impassioned speeches concerning glory, honor, sacrifice, and so on.

I think I would've enjoyed the film a lot more if it hadn't taken itself so seriously, or at least hadn't had the appearance of taking itself so seriously. If it had been a simple, over-the-top, tongue-in-cheek, hack n' slash period piece without all of the pretense of being about honor, etc., I think I would've respected it a bit more. As it stands, however, all of the talk about honor, etc., just felt like double-talk, like trappings when the real reason of the film is to show all of the cool ways you dismember a Persian ninja in super slow-motion.

If they'd just stuck with Persian ninja dismemberment, and not hung on all of that talk about glory and honor, which just felt like dramatic baggage, I probably would've enjoyed the film a bit more as a purely visceral action movie.

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I've seen this trailer about half a dozen times, and each time I watch it, I think, "My goodness that film is homoerotic." I'm not trying to bash it, that is just what runs through my mind. The again, I may be alone.

Not that there's anything WRONG with that.[/Jerry Seinfeld]

Seriously though. I was totally thinking the same thing, Every last guy in this film is totally ripped with not a lick of hair anywhere on this body. Most Mediterranean men I have ever been acquainted with tend to be a tad on the hairy side.

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A few people have made that remark. What's striking is that there is a line of dialogue in the film where the Spartan king (or one of his aides) dismissively refers to the Athenians as "those boy-lovers". Um, historically, "boy-loving" was very much a Spartan exercise, too. That line seems almost intentionally put there to deflect questions about the sexuality of all these musclebound men.

My sense of the purpose of that line was that it was meant to support one of the overriding themes of the film: "We Spartans are REAL men!"

(I almost wrote, "That line -- and the highly hetero-erotic scene between the king and his wife -- seem almost..." But then I realized that the highly hetero-erotic scene didn't need to be put there for any such strategic reason. It's just a hot'n'heavy sex scene, is all!).

Agreed. ;) It was also meant to show that the queen was very hapilly married to her husband, and so

her act of adultery later on

was a difficult decision for her.

Oh, and note how the court of the Persian king Xerxes is populated by "transsexuals" (at least three of them are singled out in the closing credits) and various other sexual "deviants", not unlike the decadent depictions of Herod's court in movies like Jesus Christ Superstar and The Passion of the Christ.

I also caught those "guys" (one of whom was named Cindy) in the closing credits. Bizarre. And ultimately, I wasn't even able to discern that any of those orgy participants were in fact transexuals.

Is this a case of serving up homo-eroticism under the guise of homophobia? That is, are the filmmakers getting a kick out of pushing gay images in front of a primarily straight audience, but giving the straight audience an escape hatch through which it can always say, "Oh, well, those are just the bad guys"? Or, is something else going on? E.g., just as studies have shown that the more earnest homophobes tend to have homosexual leanings themselves, is all the negative gay stuff in this film evidence that the filmmakers are trying to "repress" something?

Um .... I dunno about that. I think they were just stylizing this thing out the wazoo (no pun intended).

If anything, the gay-as-the-day-is-long aspect of the Colin Farrell film Alexander totally killed that movie. I was embarrassed by that movie. But this one I did not find falling into similar error. Yes, it was homo-erotic. But not in the same way. I can't explain it better than that.

Side note: Has anyone else here seen Larry Gonick's The Cartoon History of the Universe? If memory serves, there is a section that deals with the Battle of Thermopylae, and how the Spartans tended to their hair before the last major clash. In one panel, a Persian scout passes news of this on to Xerxes, who replies, "Doing their hair? Do they like little boys, too?" And the scout replies, "Well, um, as a matter of fact..."

No I haven't. But LOL anyway! :D

Side note: Has anyone else here seen Larry Gonick's The Cartoon History of the Universe? If memory serves, there is a section that deals with the Battle of Thermopylae, and how the Spartans tended to their hair before the last major clash. In one panel, a Persian scout passes news of this on to Xerxes, who replies, "Doing their hair? Do they like little boys, too?" And the scout replies, "Well, um, as a matter of fact..."

I have most of Gonick's stuff. I will have to look it up, that sounds about right.

I watched a documentary on Sparta once, and I remember it saying that they had a real problem with homosexuality, because a lot of men became conditioned to be sexually attracted to other men. To counter this, because they needed warriors for the city-state, they would shave the heads of newly wedded brides and force the men into a dark room with the woman. I have no idea how wide-spread that was, but I remember the documentary saying it was a common practice.

I'm curious: how does one become conditioned to be sexually attracted to men? The whole nature/nurture thing is on the line here.

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I totally love this movie. I loved the thrills, I loved the look, and (in an odd fashion) I also loved the message.

......... What message?

Ah! I'm glad I'm not the only one to notice that!

Most war films (possibly ALL war films) have some kind of message hidden in them, either deeply buried, or hiding in plain sight (usually an anti-war message). So I watched this film last night in the same frame of mind that I watch most films (be they war films or not): running the dual-track in my head with one track imbibing the more obvious surface story, and the other sifting through the symbolism and imagery, trying to discern the hidden one.

But it wasn't there.

This was just a straightforward epic tale of heroism, bravery, and honor. No anti-war stuff. No slams on Bush. No profound treatise against taking up arms. No imagery meant to conjure associations in our minds with Iraq. Go figure.

If there WAS any sub-text to this work, I'd say it might have been the assertion that a true democracy (a form of government that Greece gave birth to) cannot properly function if religion is part of its machinery. The evil twisted priests were possibly meant as an anti-religion prop. As was Xerxes and his title as "the god-king." (I agree whole-heartedly with Russ Breimeier from CT Movies who said: "Xerxes comes across as the Devil himself, promising him wealth, women, and power, repeatedly extolling his kindness: 'Leonidas would have you stand. All I ask is that you kneel.' " That one line from the film sent chills down my spine.) With this possible anti-religious thread in the film's subtext, the expanded role of the queen in this film was, I think, meant as an excuse to show the workings of the Council, a form of democracy in its infanthood. A bit of a Frank Capra moment for her there. We (who live in a democracy) want the local Spartan democracy to work for her that day. But it almost doesn't because one of the Council members is a traitor, liar, and a back-stabbing cheat. So her role in the story was, I believe, meant as a civics lesson for us: crooked politicians just muck up the works (just like religious interference).

The final line from the king to his servant before he dispatched him back to Sparta was "Remember us!" (That servant was played by David Wenham, the same actor who also played Faramir in Lord of the Rings --this role being quite a step up for such a deserving actor since he played the wimpy monk in Van Helsing.) That plea for "Remember us!" was repeated several times toward the end. And then I thought perhaps this might make an awesome Memorial Day film. Every last VFW post in the United States should show this film at least once a year. So another possible subtext of this film: don't hate the warriors, even if you disagree with the war. Or, "Hate the war but love the warrior."

Focusing just on that possibility, the Viet Nam War sadly pitted the citizens of America AGAINST her soldiers. They came back home not to a hero's welcome with parades and memorials, but to hurled tomatoes and shouts of "BABY KILLERS!" It was over twenty years later before America finally reconciled itself to that war and owned up to the honor due the troops who fought in it. Ever since that reckoning, the very firmly enforced protocol in every political arena of this nation is now: "Honor our young men and women who are fighting for us. Period." So I'm kinda wondering if maybe, just as the Iraq War has been called Bush' Viet Nam, it might be possible that the makers of this film are offering a cautionary tale against a repeat of a similar strain of anti-soldier mentality amongst the civilian masses.

Maybe.

But I'm not going to firmly stand by any of my assertions here. Instead, I will point to the Ain't It Cool News review, which I found funny as all get out (of course) and right on the money:

If you feel like taking a trip through all the various reviews of 300 that have shown up so far, you're going to notice something. It's sort of hilarious that Snyder hid an image of Rorschach in that extended trailer of 300, because I think what he's made with this film is a political rorschach test. People are going to project a lot of their own personal politics onto this one, and you'll hear people explain how it means this or it means that, and you'll read both outrage and smug satisfaction.

I don't think Snyder made a political film, though. I think Frank Miller is an undeniably political writer, but I don't think that had much to do with Snyder's decision to make the film. I think what really attracted him to the material is exactly what attracts me to this film: the image. This is a celebration of film as a visual art form, first and foremost, and Snyder has made something stunningly beautiful, a poem of war, a movie drunk on the potential of cinema to bring to life the impossible.

I have read in my film theory text books that ALL films about war MUST be "anti-war" or they're not worth the celluloid they're printed on. Films that are "pro-war" (if there actually is such a thing) or which are unabashedly patriotic, are unacceptable to the human-focused sensibilities of the art form. They are a stench in the nostrils of the craft and the industry. But this film seems to be lacking a direct anti-war message. Instead, by invoking the principles of "a just war", it asks us to side with the 300 Spartans in their decision to go to war. It asks us to sympathize with their determination to fight even unto death. And it also asks us to root for the Queen as she beseeches the Council to approve a troop escalation--oops! I mean --a surge.

So what exactly IS the message of this film?

I don't know. Maybe I'll go ask my therapist.

Edited by Plot Device

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Clint M wrote:

: 3rd biggest R-Rated movie opening weekend; Biggest March weekend - 69.5

: million dollars (estimated)!

The estimate I saw was slightly higher, at $70.025 million. But yeah, that's a record-breaker.

To quote what I wrote elsewhere:

FWIW, 300 has broken the record for best opening weekend in March, which was held by either 2002's Ice Age ($46.3 million) or 2006's Ice Age: The Meltdown ($68 million), depending on whether you count the latter film as a March release (its opening weekend stretched into April).

In fact, it's the second-highest opening weekend for any film released in January, February, March or April, beaten only by 2004's The Passion of the Christ ($83.8 million), which was released in a February.

It's also the third-highest opening weekend of any R-rated film, beaten only by The Passion and 2003's The Matrix Reloaded ($91.8 million).

And as far as recent ancient or medieveal warfare movies go, the film has already completely beaten 2004's Alexander ($34.3 million), 2004's King Arthur ($51.9 million) and 2005's Kingdom of Heaven ($47.4 million), and it is more than half-way to beating 2004's Troy ($133.4 million) and more than a third of the way to beating 2000's Gladiator ($187.7 million).

That's all in domestic figures, of course. The overseas picture might be a little different, but 300 hasn't really been released there yet.

So one question that must be asked is: Has this movie revived the ancient epic?

Hmmm, I guess I could have also mentioned that this film has already outgrossed 2006's The Nativity Story ($37.6 million), 2006's Tristan & Isolde ($14.8 million), 2003's Timeline ($19.5 million) and sundry other ancient or medieval movies of the last few years, though those all seem to belong to other categories, to me.

: One of the two biggest problems with the adaptation of this book. The queen (and

: all of her baggage in this film) is given an extended role in the movie; she (and

: that sub-plot) is virtually non-existent in the book.

Interesting. FWIW, they're saying one of the reasons the film did so well this weekend is because the expansion of the queen's role in the story made the film extra appealing to women.

Plot Device wrote:

: I'm curious: how does one become conditioned to be sexually attracted to men?

: The whole nature/nurture thing is on the line here.

I couldn't speak to the question of "how", but don't think there's any significant dispute anywhere that ancient Greek society was aggressively bisexual in a way that our current culture is not. I suppose the intensity of said bisexuality may have varied, though, from city-state to city-state and from era to era.

: This was just a straightforward epic tale of heroism, bravery, and honor. No

: anti-war stuff. No slams on Bush. No profound treatise against taking up arms.

: No imagery meant to conjure associations in our minds with Iraq. Go figure.

That hasn't stopped some people from trying to assign topical significance to the film, though (e.g. here).

I like what one person said, though, about Snyder's film being a "rorshach test". It seems to me that the anti-Bush viewer is free to think of Bush as Xerxes, i.e. as a spoiled son of royalty who has set out to finish the war that his daddy left unfinished, but whose imperialist efforts are frustrated by a small band of insurgents. And it seems to me that the pro-Bush viewer is free to think of Bush as Leonidas, i.e. as that rare man who sees the threat coming from Persia/Iran/Islamism, and who goes out to fight the threat even though his government and the religious establishment fail to support him, and even though he gets only minimal support from the neighbouring states who are also being threatened.

The funny thing is, Frank Miller released this graphic novel back in the Clinton era. So if the movie is as true to the comic as I have heard, then there wouldn't seem to be any basis for reading any pro-Bush or anti-Bush messages into the film. The resonance between the story and the current political situation would be entirely accidental.

: If there WAS any sub-text to this work, I'd say it might have been the assertion

: that a true democracy (a form of government that Greece gave birth to) . . .

The Athenians, yes ... but the Spartans?

Incidentally, given that the film encourages us to think of the Spartans as noble, inspiring heroes a la Mel Gibson's version of William Wallace, I wonder what we are supposed to make of that prologue which shows how infanticide (the killing of weak babies) and the brutal upbringing of Spartan boys was integral to the training and development of King Leonidas and his soldiers. If the Spartans had believed in the sanctity of life, and if their social structures had allowed for more humanity or compassion, is the film telling us Western Civilization would have been doomed?

: . . . cannot properly function if religion is part of its machinery.

Very interesting. Religion doesn't come across very positively in Miller's Sin City, either. And certainly, Leonidas's multiple references to Greek "reason" over Persian "mysticism" don't point in a very pro-religious direction either.

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I caught it tonight... not much really interesting to say about it that hasn't been said.

Yeah, I at one point wondered if the actors were using prosthetic musclebound chests. Otherwise there was some serious fitness training going on.

I don't think the hot-n-heavy sex was really there to serve a purpose other than to add some hot-n-heavy sex. It's mature/adult entertainment. Sex and violence sell tickets. I disagree about the notion that it showed her love for her husband in regard to her later choice. The choice in question seemed easy for her, not hard.

Actually that particular choice was the most disappointing thing about the movie to me.... especially when anyone could see the guy turning it on her from a mile away. She was supposed to be a strong woman... why did she whore herself out pointlessly? Is that what strong women do in tough circumstances?

What else... I liked the visual style... although I wasn't aware that freak shows and armies tended to be the same thing in those days. Some of that was a bit overdone.

The patriotic sermons didn't do much for me. I've seen Braveheart, I've seen Gladiator. Nothing new or interesting here.

Overall I liked it, but I don't think it was very significant for anything other than the visuals, and as a reminder of an interesting bit of history.

Edit: Oh, I remembered the two other thoughts I had about this movie. One involved the King's striking resemblence to the lead singer of System of the Down (I think it's the beard), and the other was me wondering how a warrior society would receive Christ's message of loving one's enemy and turning the other cheek. Seems to be pretty much directly the opposite of a society that discards infants and trains people from birth to kill, to me.

Edited by theoddone33

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Very interesting. Religion doesn't come across very positively in Miller's Sin City, either. And certainly, Leonidas's multiple references to Greek "reason" over Persian "mysticism" don't point in a very pro-religious direction either.

With regards to the Spartans' disdain for "mysticism", I find that odd considering how many references the Spartans make to the gods. Sure, some of them are in passing, but at one point, the narrator claims that the Spartans took great pride in the fact that they were supposedly direct descendants of Hercules. So is that particular instance of mysticism okay because it feeds into the Spartans' pride over their strength and prowess? If so, it would seem to me that they're not really all for reason, they're just picking and choosing to dislike whichever mysticism doesn't jive with their national pride.

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opus wrote:

: With regards to the Spartans' disdain for "mysticism", I find that odd considering

: how many references the Spartans make to the gods.

Perhaps it's a sort of proto-deism, an inoffensive and undemanding form of civil religion, like the "In God We Trust" references on American currency.

- - -

300 Shocker

Help me out here, because I

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Note that, while wikipedia is its own special form of fiction, I found the following articles quite interesting after seeing 300:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Thermopylae

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonidas_I

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Plataea

I was surprised that bits of the dialog were taken from Herodotus. I'm not surprised that the subplot involving Queen Gorgo... wasn't.

Edit: Ooof, and regarding that article Peter linked, I think the National Review is its own special form of fiction too. People have been making patriotic rah rah pictures pretty much nonstop for the last 5 1/2 years (almost to the day, yikes). 300 was one of them, and it wasn't that different than what's come out of Hollywood in that time, regardless of the anonymous author's conservative persecution complex.

Edited by theoddone33

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Clint M wrote:

: 3rd biggest R-Rated movie opening weekend; Biggest March weekend - 69.5

: million dollars (estimated)!

The estimate I saw was slightly higher, at $70.025 million. But yeah, that's a record-breaker.

And the actuals were even a bit more - $70,885,301.

: One of the two biggest problems with the adaptation of this book. The queen (and

: all of her baggage in this film) is given an extended role in the movie; she (and

: that sub-plot) is virtually non-existent in the book.

Interesting. FWIW, they're saying one of the reasons the film did so well this weekend is because the expansion of the queen's role in the story made the film extra appealing to women.

True. But I don't think anyone would have gotten that from the initial trailers. I didn't even see it coming until this print ad. I didn't have a problem with showing the relationship between the king and queen. But the whole political sub-plot never really pays off well in the big picture of the film, and her action in

killing Theron and essentially revealing his part in the act of treason

appears to be more pandering toward that portion of the potential audience for this film.

The funny thing is, Frank Miller released this graphic novel back in the Clinton era. So if the movie is as true to the comic as I have heard, then there wouldn't seem to be any basis for reading any pro-Bush or anti-Bush messages into the film. The resonance between the story and the current political situation would be entirely accidental.

Fellow Batman writer Dennis O'Neil, in an interview to a local paper, said this about Miller's political views:

DO: I

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Clint M wrote:

: And the actuals were even a bit more - $70,885,301.

Yeah, that's wild. Incidentally, I note that this film currently has the 19th-highest opening weekend of all time -- and of the 18 films ahead of it, all but 4 are sequels. The 4 exceptions are Spider-Man (2002), Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (2001), The Passion of the Christ (2004) and The Da Vinci Code (2006) -- and of those, 2 were based on hot-property best-selling novels, and 2 were, shall we say, based on established, popular, even mythic, stories with a huge fanbase. :) I wouldn't have imagined that 300, a one-shot graphic novel with no iconic characters, would have been in those leagues, but hey, what do I know.

: But the whole political sub-plot never really pays off well in the big picture of the

: film, and her action in

killing Theron and essentially revealing his part in the

:

act of treason

appears to be more pandering toward that portion of the

: potential audience for this film.

Yeah, there was lotsa cheering at that point in the movie. (It was one of three points when the crowd loudly applauded. I believe the first was a decapitation scene -- which brought a certain rousing scene from The Fellowship of the Ring to mind -- and the third was when the end credits rolled.)

Incidentally, I got curious about how this film's b.o. performance compares to that of other films based on Frank Miller screenplays and comics... so, with a little help from the IMDB and BoxOfficeMojo.com...

2007 -- 300 -- $70,885,301 in 3 days

2005 -- Sin City -- $74,103,820 in total

2005 -- Elektra -- $24,409,722 in total

2003 -- Daredevil -- $102,543,518 in total

1993 -- Robocop 3 -- $10,696,210 in total

1990 -- Robocop 2 -- $45,681,173 in total

FWIW, I included Daredevil and Elektra because Miller created the latter character and the storyline involving her that was used by the former movie; apparently Miller even had a cameo in the former movie. I did NOT count any of the Batman movies because it is not clear to me that any of them borrowed significantly from Miller's storylines, though there are definitely trace elements in Batman Begins (2005; $205,343,774) that seem to come directly from Miller's Batman: Year One.

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