Thursday, April 05, 2007

Movie Revue: Borat and 300

I know I haven't written on here for a while. I was really just gonna let it die, but I see that some people still check this thing pretty faithfully and that makes me feel guilty. So here are some movie reviews I was just gonna put on Amazon:

Borat: I saw Borat last night. Huge disappointment. I know it's been out for a while now, but I waited for it to come out on Netflix, and I'm glad I did. I really don't see why the critics loved this movie so much. It was funny in the same way Todd Packer is funny on The Office: in that mean-spirited fashion. He makes fun of people I don't even like (like feminists, frat boys, religious fanatics, people who own Bed & Breakfasts, Southern secessionists and gentry), and I still just ended up feeling sorry for all of them. These people are trying to be nice to him and instead he passive-aggressively ridicules them. The only part I really laughed at was when he threw down his bag on the road and we heard the ubiquitous chicken go "GAWK!"

300: Another terrible movie. I saw this last weekend. I really wanted to see TMNT, but my fellow movie-goers were afraid it would be a kids' movie. I guess they have no fond memories of Turtle Power.

But 300 was a terrible movie. It was visually interesting, yes, but it didn't really add anything to the "genre" that Sin City hadn't already brought. It was like trying to be amazed by the special effects in Charlie's Angels after watching The Matrix.

But my bigger complaint is the storyline. As a classics major, I knew I was going to have problems with this movie, but its box office success urged me to approach it with an open mind. All I learned from this experience was that I was right to judge this book by its cover after all. Here's what I have to say about the movie's "accuracy"...

No, it was not accurate. Not even close. This bother me on several levels. First, you could have made a similar movie and still gotten your facts straight. It's not like the Battle of Thermopylae cries out for a whole lot of embellishment. It's a pretty amazing story on its own.

Second, apparently people are treating this movie as a 2-hour ad for the Marines and the War on Terror. Except the only way this movie could be scene as pro-America is through a blatant bastardization of the facts. The Spartans weren't fighting for freedom. They didn't give a shit about freedom. They were oppressive rulers who kept down a constantly-revolting slave class (a fact the movie seemed incapable of mentioning). They were fighting for the defense of their homeland. When I have to listen to characters say, "Freedom isn't free," all I can think to myself is, "What the fuck would you know about it?"

Iran apparently views this movie as an act of war. That's pretty stupid. The only way it criticizes Iranians is that the antagonists live on the same land mass as the Iranians. And it'd be pretty hard to tell the story of the Battle of Thermopylae WITHOUT that feature, since that was about the only aspect of this movie that was grounded in FACT. If anything, this movie seems to be to be anti-America. It's the tale of the underdog, a small band of men who give their lives to defend their homeland from a sexually-deviant, decadant, and seemingly powerful empire obsessed with expanding its borders into foreign territory. That sounds more like therIraq insurgency's operations against the U.S. than America's War on Terror campaign.

The movie isn't even accurate within itself. IE, during the final stand-off the narrator states that 299 men stood behind Leonidas, when we've already seen some of the 300 fall to the Persians earlier in the movie. And the scene in which the Spartans watch the Persian ships sail through the storm (based on the actual crossing of the Hellespont); why don't they just SAIL around the Thermopylae pass, rather than landing north of it and then spending the entire movie through to go south? Mostly, though, I don't know how the movie can talk so much about Spartan freedom when the first thing you learn is that every Spartan child is forced to become a soldier from the moment he is born.

My biggest qualm, though, is with all the people who try to defend the inaccuracies. "It's just a movie, it's not a history lesson, it's not supposed to be accurate." I wonder if these individuals would be quite so blaise if I made a movie chronicling the brave 19 men who struck a blow against the decadent American empire by hijacking airplanes and crashing them into skyscrapers. I'd call it 19. Hey, what's the big deal? It's just a movie, it's not supposed to be an accurate retelling of 9/11!


Blogger Mike said...

I also recently saw 300. I saw it with a friend who wanted to see TMNT instead. 300 was pretty bad, but how about a review of TMNT to be fair? Even after seeing 300 and being unimpressed, I still think it was more entertaining than the turtles would have been. I'm basing this entirely on the preview of course, which is why an objective review would be helpful to let me know if, between the two options, I made the right choice after all.

12:31 AM  
Blogger Law Revue said...

Unfortunately, I haven't seen it yet. I was going to see it last weekend, but I decided to work on one of my papers instead. But if you're really interested in a review, you can find one here.

10:26 AM  

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