The following is part of a series where I bring back some of my "older" reviews (those written during my 2004-2011 tenure at the now mostly defunct The Cinematheque) and offer them up to a "newer" generation.
*************From the very first moment, as the Warner Bros. logo flashes and slashes its way across the darkened screen, as if forged by mighty Hephaestus himself, we instantly know that Zack Snyder and his X-Box-weened posse of computer geeks, graphic novel junkees and comic book fanboys are about to mightily thrust upon the unsuspecting public a vast and mighty display of ultrasupercoolawesomeness to the very freakin' tippy-top apex-eroding grody-to-the-max. Of course, for those of us who are not brought to the very precipice (or beyond) of orgasm by the thought of a CGI-created universe full of rabid bare-chested oiled-up steroid-pumped half-men half-beast warriors led by a pompous half-man half-pariah (all bad actor) who is just one note (and a lot less work-outs) away from a certain White House residing war monger of our own, fighting an equally rabid über-army of glimmer-masked marauders, gigantic Frankensteinian monstrosities and a few big-ass battle elephants led by some sort of mascara'd crossbreed of Marilyn Manson and Rupaul, way beyond Thunderdome, this film, full of lusty vim and vigor and spewing ultrasupercoolawesomeness out its proverbial watusi, gets real tired real soon - and I got real pissed off real freakin' fast.
Now to begin, please allow me to say that if your artistic sensibilities are not totally grossed out within the first ten minutes or so, as if someone had just thrown-up big fat chunks of falafel and moussaka all over you, then this is surely the movie for you - vacuous, demeaning, completely devoid of any substance whatsoever, replete with all the idiotic, brain-numbing, Nietzsche-praising video gaming geekocity one could ever dream of while sleeping snug and cozy at age 37 in their mommy's basement rec room, copy of Maxim under their pillow and thoughts of Pamela Anderson floating like sugar plum fairies throughout their heads. If this is you, then nothing I can say or do will ever sway your opinion away from the ultrasupercoolawesomeness of this computer designed crypto-movie atrocity that blatantly spits in the face of cinematic integrity, and perhaps you should just stop reading right now and go finish that saved game of World of Warcraft you've been so buggin' to get back to. Meanwhile, everyone else, my faithful readers perhaps, please read on, for I truly scathe only very few and far between and you wouldn't want to miss any of the mordacious tongue slathering that is sure to follow.
Based upon Frank Miller's graphic novel about the 480 B.C. Battle of Thermopylae, where the King of Sparta led his meager army of 300 strong against the interloping throng of the mighty Persian horde, which in turn was apocryphally based by Miller upon the 1962 film, The 300 Spartans, he saw as an impressionable (if not a bit ADHD) child, Zack Snyder, who gave us all quite the surprise with his quick-witted Dawn of the Dead remake a few years back, tries to have his cake and eat it too by attempting to recreate the feeling of cinematic overzealousness and pop-pulp flim-flam that was the last Frank Miller penned adaptation. Yet Sin City, even with all its many flaws, still managed to hit its intended target at least half the time, while Snyder's overwrought mega movie just falls deeper and deeper into the inevitable chasm of CGI-induced banality, ending up nothing shy of a deadened, terrifically dull, plodding slab of man meat-cum-action figure tableaux, perfectly in tune with the Maxim reading machismo of modern "man".
Snyder's film may indeed have its momentary visual exaltation of larks, but once one gets beyond such slapdash smattery and one-dimensional eye porn, one must surely see 300 for what it truly is - a simultaneously homoerotic and homophobic testosteronic monkeyshine, full of so much hokey ham-handed faux pixilated battle scenes, one trick pony actors-cum-glistening torsos, slathered in enough body oils to simultaneously and permanently ejaculate each and every last gay porn connoisseur from P-Town to the Golden Gate, naked writhing slave-girl oracles straight off of a Maxfield Parrish calendar and enough level-ending melees with every fanged, clawed and muscled monster this side of the Khyber Pass, to nearly eradicate the ever-blurring fine line between modern mass market movie making and the benighted art of video games, not to mention giving every person over the IQ of drooling monosyllabic Spartan, a headache the size of the Persian Empire at its glorious behemothic height.
As our mighty Spartan heroes, led by the churlish Gerard Butler, not even attempting to disguise his thick Scottish burr, form an "impenetrable phalanx at the hot gates" and the equally mighty 8-foot-tall man-muffin god-king Xerxes sends wave after wave of circus sideshow lallapalooza at them, one can not help but notice the totally ludicrous identity crisis this movie has in spades. Both sexually confused (this entire freakin' shama lama ding dong is full of enough beefcake bunnies and chest-piercing blood-n-gore for both the leather-boy and the frat boy to be both aroused by and bothered by) and politically metaphored (aka macho jar-headed white guys vs. interloping terroristic golden brown guys), Snyder has pounded every square peg into every round hole he could find and in doing so has let loose a Pandora's box of phallic Freudian psychobabble and right-winged rhetoric spin-doctoring unto an already applesauce'd burlesque of inanity.
Ultimately, Snyder's sophomore (and sophomoric) film, though with nothing short of a twisted train wreck of an aura that makes even someone that would write this scathing takedown, unable to turn his head away in a strangely happy horror, forcing him to scream "By the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth!" with every demented twist and turn (a possible so-called guilty pleasure in our future perhaps?), plays out as an excitably unexciting yet hilariously hysterical (as Nathan Lee of The Village Voice has called it) mélange of utter flapdoodle and mad cow-riddled absurdity - all fried up in a synthetically manufactured landscape of digital drudgery. Run, don't walk from the blob that is 300.