The movie 300 was a visual spectacle. The brave 300 warriors of Sparta sounded like a bunch of rowdy fraternity boys. The first thing that struck me was the visuals. It looked like it was shot with photoshop. The dark textures and smooth digital gradients provided the backdrop while gruesome monsters straight out of a fantasy novel’s cover appeared everywhere. Turns out that the bulk of the movie was shot against a bluescreen with the scenery filled in later. This was to maintain consistency with the comic that it’s based on. As this comic to screen comparison shows, they’ve succeeded quite a bit.
It’s a testament to Frank Miller’s skills as the creator of graphic novels (aka more “serious” comic books) that his works translate so well into movies. Or maybe it’s a sign of the times that the general decline in movie quality and prevalence of digital effects finally sets the stage for these graphic novels to come to the screen. It’s not that the movie was bad or the story not compelling. It’s just that the limited amount of dialogue allowed for in comics leaves a bunch of dead time between speaking scenes.
I feel a strange emotional disconnect with heavily graphics-driven movies. The fight scenes looks little more than a demo for the latest video game. Characters either kill or be killed. No limping about or struggling. Either your head is flying through the sky while spinning in slow motion or your slicing someone’s arms off. In order for a battle movie to suspend disbelief I think that death should be more “real” and immediate to the viewer. This is hard for the average audience member to visualize since their closest exposure is “Halo”, “Gears of War” or some other shooter/fighting game. Despite the abundance of violent scenes, the only feelings I had were the desentisized, vague awareness that people were dying.
It was entertaining and I’m sure many will enjoy the stoic male camaraderie and bravery that is becoming harder to witness firsthand in this digital age.