I'd already decided long ago I was going to see 300, the visually stunning movie based on Frank Miller's take on the ancient Battle of Thermopylae. As a comic book fan, I'm fairly neutral on Miller's work...having loved his earlier Daredevil and Dark Knight Returns stories, yet never having the desire to read any of his Sin City comics (and still procrastinating on seeing the Sin City movie).
However, Miller himself is an intriguing figure, at turns entertaining and irritating every side of the political divide with just about everything he creates or says publicly. It looks like the movie 300 is no exception, as people of every socio-political stripe have already weighed in on what they think Miller's "real message" is, either despairing or cheering depending on their point of view.
Others complain that the movie isn't "historically accurate"....as if authenticity and historical fidelity have always been the focus of the Hollywood crowd. Right...and Spartacus really did look like a clean-shaven, hair-gelled Kirk Douglas. I'm an avid reader of history (currently working my way through A War Like No Other by Victor Davis Hanson), but I certainly don't expect the same sort of exacting scholarship from film makers. The way I look at it is, if the film can spark some real interest in the history behind the movie, it's done its job. If not, it's still an entertaining story.
Of all historic "genres" of movies, I think the so-called "Sword and Sandal" movies are the ones that most intrigue me. Whether they're Biblical epics like The Ten Commandments or Jesus of Nazareth or secular movies like Gladiator, I'm there. In fact, the movie 300 might have appealed to me on another level related to the Sword and Sandal thing. Way back in high school art class (circa 1981), I painted an homage to the cover of Marvel's Epic #1 (1980), illustrated by fantasy giant Frank Frazetta (click on the image to the left for a larger view). By "homage" I mean "directly ripped-off"...and it's still hanging in my dad's house ( I actually didn't do too bad for a 15 year old using sub-par public school materials).
So, needless to say, I'm really looking forward to seeing 300 later this week. Not for an earnest history lesson, not because it made $70 million on its opening weekend, (though that is pretty impresive), but rather for all the bravado and visual artistry of Miller's mui macho meditation on blood and thunder...not to mention oceans of testosterone. In other words....the "Anti-Chick Flick".