300, why can’t I just quit you?
I can’t help it. It’s full of men with rippling six packs wearing nothing but tiny leather underpants1 and leather skirts with strategic crotch windows of the sort you normally see women wearing in fantasy art. I’M ONLY HUMAN OKAY2.
(light spoilers throughout)
It actually amuses me more than I can say that in this movie, there are two (wow, count ’em, two! we’re moving up in the world of Frank Miller, ladies. And neither of them are strippers!) women with major speaking parts, and both of them spend the entire movie wearing more than the men. Even during the one sex scene, Artemesia comes out wearing more than Themistokles because at least she’s still got her skirt. 300:RoaE feels like even more of a homoerotic ode to speedos than the original while desperately trying to be hyper uber no really believes us please you have to cartoonishly manly. There should be a subtitle that flashes in the lower right hand corner of every scene that says: **No homo. We swear.
In one scene Gorgo tells Themistokles to stop stroking his cock while he’s watching a bunch of Spartans wearing only modesty speedos wrestle. I’m not even joking.
This movie is ridiculous. And it takes itself so very seriously, which just makes it nothing short of hilarious in scenes. 300: RoaE contains probably the greatest hate fuck scene ever put to film. There are entire server farms no doubt devoted entirely to producing the gouts of cartoonish blood that fill the battle scenes, not to mention the horse that Themistokles rides across several ships that are on fire so he can have a massive sword fight with Artemesia.
And I loved Artemesia, even if I really wanted to lick a napkin and scrub some of the eyeliner off her face. She was just the kind of cold queen bitch character that I am helpless against, and what I loved best was she stayed bad until the end. There was no change of heart caused by an encounter with the One True Cock. (I would have thrown things. Seriously.) I almost died giggling when she taunted Themistokles “You fight harder than you fuck!”
I think that’s the reason I keep watching these movies, and damn me, I enjoy them. Despite the fact that even on their face, they are cringe-inducingly problematic. It’s got all the unsubtle subtext of the original 300, but turned up to 11 just in case you didn’t manage catch it last time. The Greeks throw around the words freedom and democracy more than your average presidential candidate, and the existence of Greek slaves is for the most part carefully skirted around while slavery practiced by the Persians is given plenty of screen time. The “barbarian” bad guys are pretty much all middle-eastern or black, commonly deformed, etc, and there they are facing off against the chiseled jawlines of the Greeks3. There are even fucking suicide bombers in this one. No really. The Greeks make a great caricature of self-consciously hyperpatriotic America, complete with at one point Themistokles (I think it was him) saying that the Persians just want to kill them because FREEDOM.
But godammit, it’s so fucking pretty. It’s kind of like eating that extra large piece of chocolate peanut butter cheesecake that was baked for you by Satan himself, where you know you shouldn’t like it, you know it’s bad for you, and you just can’t help it anyway because at the time it’s just so nummy. Then next thing you know, you’re laying on the bathroom floor with crumbs in your hair and a mouth that tastes like regret, considering if it would just be better to sanitize the plumbing fixtures by setting them on fire, only hopefully you’ll die quietly from your gallbladder strangling your heart before you ever get that far.
There’s going to be a third movie. It’s inevitable. And I predict with advance shame that will see it too, and then have a mouthful of regret that no amount of nicely cut pecs will be able to erase. I can only hope in the next movie, maybe we’ll finally get an answer to the question of why Xerxes has eyebrows like a chola. Probably because he hates freedom.
(See also: io9’s hilarious review)
1 – Oh my god for extra hilarity, if you’re looking at this before this post falls off my blog’s front page check out which slice of the picture WordPress chose to represent the post. JUST LOOK AT IT. I did not pick that. Sometimes perfection just happens on its own.
2 – Just in case someone out there wants to leap on the fact that I have tacitly admitted that I am an actual human being capable of prurient interest in swathes of rippling man-flesh, I would like to note two important points:
- I would never in a million years advocate putting the above image or anything like it on the cover of the magazine of a professional organization of which I’m part.
- I would not use the phrase “rippling man flesh” or anything like it in such a venue either, because that would be super creepy. As a real-life grown-up, I know there is a time and a place for rippling man-flesh, and that normally involves my blog and a beer.
3 – There is a very token effort to humanize the Persians in this one. You see Xerxes’s grief over the death of his father, which apparently is what caused him to go soak in a mystical pool filled with a combination of nair and miracle-gro. You also find out that envoy that Leonidas killed at the beginning of the first 300 was actually the man who rescued Artemesia from death and raised her.