Monday, March 19, 2007

Review: 300

The epic movie 300 has finally been thrust upon us like a Spartan spear, and I have to say, it freaking rocked.

First off, let me say, this movie is not for the faint of heart. Since its based on a Frank Miller work, you know from the start that its going to be unequivocally violent and bloody, so be prepared for the excess of splattered blood (you may want to bring a poncho or something if you sit in the front row). Throw in Zack Snyder (who directed the Land of the Dead remake), and you have even more cause for blood and gore.

The movie focuses really on two separate (but united in a way) storylines, that of King Leonidas of Sparta, and his wife, Queen Gorgo. With Xerxes and the Persian Empire looking to acquire Sparta, King Leonidas feels that it must be defended, however, without the blessing of the Oracles, Sparta will not go to war. Therefore, King Leonidas takes it upon himself to "take a stroll" with 300 of Sparta's best soldiers, with the goal of defending Sparta from Xerxes procession until Queen Gorgo can convince Sparta that the rest of the army (some 10,000) should march to their defense. Most of the movie is spent with the 300 soldiers, as they face wave after wave of Persian soldiers. Interspersed throughout, however, are scenes involving Queen Gorgo, as she struggles with the thought that her husband might not come back, and a corrupt Spartan who makes it difficult for her to receive any audience with the Counsel to advocate for war.

The story is solid (albeit formulaic, and about as solid as one could expect from a movie like this), and the acting is done very well. Many of the fight scenes really get you pumped, and are very well done. Snyder uses various camera effects (mainly stopping the action, then speeding it up) to emphasize the sheer brute force that the Spartans exhibit to defend their territory. The dialogue is never really cheesy or anything, and the lines are spoken with conviction. All in all, the movie really does an excellent job of conveying the presence that the Spartans exhibit, as the Persian attackers begin to question their advantage, and even fear the mere 300 Spartan soldiers they are fighting.

In the end, this movie really works. There's enough action scenes for the men, and most women I've talked to won't complain about watching 300 barechested (and some CGIed sixpacks) men fighting, so it has something for everyone. I wouldn't expect to get an Oscar winning movie, as its not really going for that. Snyder did a phenomenal job helming this epic movie, and none of the blood seems wasted. What it is going for is a kickass movie where Spartans just go at it, and it definitely accomplishes this feat. I mean, why else are you seeing this movie if you're not in it for the gratuitous violence?

Overall score: 70 out of 100

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Review: Heroes "Parasite"

Heroes has been building momentum as of late, and it seems that we're finally getting to a point where we're no longer being teased about questions being answered. No sir, questions ARE being answered. This week's episode is no different.
Spoilers ahead
This week's episode found Mohinder realizing that the Zane that was with him wasn't the actual one, and it was actually Sylar (kudos to the writers for pulling the trigger on this earlier than I thought...I figured Mohinder wouldn't figure this out for at least 1 or 2 more episodes). But of course, Mohinder tries to contain Syler, which ends of bad for everyone. Mr. Bennet is assigned to another case, despite forgetting about Claire (supposedly), and his wife all of a sudden claiming to remember more than she should have. We're also introduced to Mystique...I mean, Candice Wilmer (Missy Peregrym), who is a shapeshifter working for the company that Mr. Bennet apparently formerly worked for.
Niki and Jessica continue to grapple with each other (with Niki winning out in the end and warning Nathan about Mr. Linderman's intentions), while Hiro gets the sword (with the help of Ando who somehow managed to get a job as casino security). Speaking of Linderman, Peter confronts him, and it was a very disappointing scene. Linderman has been built up to be a ruthless badass mob boss, but the first time we actually see him, he's making a chicken pot pie in the casino kitchen. Couldn't he have just shot someone or something, or reference a torture or something? I was a little disappointed, and kind of hoped that Peter would shoot him, but apparently Peter will be president in 2008, so that's that.
The climax of the show of course came at the end, after Sylar let Mohinder know he couldn't be contained by duct tape and an IV (this guy got of the Paper Mill afterall). Peter arrives to confront Mohinder about what's going on, only to find him strung up on the ceiling. He warns Peter of Sylar, who accosts Peter, and says that he's curious to see what makes him tick, and begins the head splitting. Leaving us wondering what the hell will happen next (although I think everyone knows that Peter is more powerful than Sylar, so I think this is a somewhat one-sided fight).
End spoilers
Overall, a fantastic episode, and one that is definitely keeping the momentum of the show moving. Unfortunately, all the momentum from the past 3 episodes hits a wall, as Heroes is on hiatus until April 23rd. Stupid sweeps.
Easily a 9.6 out of 10. One of these days, I'll come up with a better rating system.