What a lot of people don't know is that there is a huge, female fanbase that was more excited about the release of 300 than even the geekiest of fanboys. Why is this so? Two words - Gerard Butler. One of the "Tartans" wrote in with a review that that most likely sums up the thought of the entire er, organization.
Tartan Review: 300
On Friday, March 9th, I had planned on seeing it at 7:00 P.M., on the Imax Screen at the Paramount Cinema, in Downtown Montreal. When I arrived there around 6:00 P.M., my first thoughts were the same as the Persian Emissary: “This is madness!” and I almost felt Gerry would be yelling back at me: “This is Sparta!”
The lobby was full! A friend of mine had some preconceived ideas as to what would form most of the biggest part of moviegoers who would see that movie and in his idea, they would all be young males between the ages of 18 and 35! Well, not so, my friends! No huge amount of Tart-like women either (meant here in the sense of “Tart” as short for Tartan, the name we, Gerry Butler’s fans, give ourselves). There were couples of all ages in line to see that movie.
I was lucky enough to find myself second in line at Jessica’s cash, a very nice young black woman. But the prospects were not reassuring. 4 theatres showing “300” and one of them was the Imax one and all of them had signs flashing where the shows were indicated. Most of them already had the sign “sold out” and a few of them had “very few left”. As the man in front of me was about to buy his ticket, he was told they were all sold out and he protested that there were a few left but as he unfortunately realized, the sign had changed just before he asked for his ticket. Disappointed, he left with his head hung down. Not a true Spartan!
As for me, well, as true a Spartan woman as could be, I figured I could buy two tickets for the 4:00 P.M. show at the Imax for March 10th and have my friend reimburse me the price of his ticket.
So I bought my tickets, chatted a little bit with Jessica about how this movie would be big and then went to take the 6:30 P.M. train. I arrived just in time to see Gerry being interviewed on “Entertainment Canada”. Not such a bad thing finally especially as I was about to see also, by pure chance, the repeat show of the Hour, on CBS. that night that I had taped yesterday on which Gerry was being interviewed by Georges Stromboulos.
I phoned my friend told him that we would have to be at the Paramount lot the next day for 2:30 P.M. and he asked me why and I told him just to trust me.
At 3:15 P.M. I was quite happy to get in, to finally sit down and I was about to “Prepare for Glory!” I actually made a few people laugh when I proclaimed out loud “That tonight we dine in Hell!” You could feel the dynamic in the group of people there! Everybody was excited about seeing the movie and whether some of them were only there on account of Gerry Butler (not a bad reason actually; the best reason as far as I am concerned), or on account of Frank Miller (I didn’t like “Sin City” very much except for the part where Mickey Rourke was in there and not on account that I am a Mickey Rourke’s fan as I am not but his character was more interesting to me than the other ones; so I must admit to having had apprehensions about “300” but thank goodness, it is not like “Sin City” at all), or on account that they are just big fans of action movies, or historical movies or CGI effects or even better, because as proud Montrealers they wanted to encourage a movie all filmed here, I don’t know, but there was that sense of being part of something special that we all felt.
Security was tight with one usher and one security guard patrolling the aisles during the entire movie to make sure nobody would be stupid enough to try and film the movie.
Then it started after a very short preview of “Spider-Man 3” without any other previews and I thank God for that! Why bother with endless trailers of sequels or idiotic slapstick movies?
The eeriness felt in the very first scenes where Leonidas’ mother takes him to the baby inspector and you can see the discarded skulls of the infants that didn’t pass the inspection. Then the head to head encounter between the wolf and the boy who would be king. I could tell you about so many scenes in there that took my breath away but I won’t as I don’t want to spoil it for you.
Some scenes are like pure works of art which is a contradiction in itself as some of those scenes are ones of violence, like the severed head of a Persian who has failed Xerxes. When it falls off, you would think this is the broken head of a statue and for a moment forget that it was the head of a living being.
A downpour of arrows reminds you of rain falling down gently, slowly but yet, you are reminded that this particular downpour is deadly.
What I can tell you though is that Leonidas is not only a great king on account of his strength and courage but on account of his love for his wife and queen, Gorgo, for his son that he is training to become his successor and for whom yet he feels tenderness. It is there in the way he talks to the boy and looks at him as it is there when he is with his wife. Leonidas also loves his people more than life itself and we are reminded of that when he does make the ultimate sacrifice of his own life.
Gorgo is strong, beautiful, steadfast and loyal to not only the man she loves but to her people. The way she deals with her enemy, Theron, is that of a true strong Spartan woman and this was one of my favorite scenes.
Yes, Ladies, you will feast your eyes with lots of beautiful half-naked, extremely fit men, the fittest of them all and the hottest of them being Gerry Butler himself but that is O.K. Nothing wrong with that! I, myself, couldn’t stop checking out Leonidas! Your husbands or boyfriends will certainly drag you (pretend to be dragged so they do not suspect that you are that eager to see such handsome half-naked men on the screen!) to see that movie, mostly on account of the action, the CGI effects and the rumored naked women. Yes, there is nudity in that movie but not shocking one. We, Ladies, will be more well-served where that is concerned as the very handsome Gerry Butler appears in his all his splendor, unfortunately for us, his back to us, but this is a very nice backside! The only time he is that naked and facing us, he is sitting on the edge of the bed, caressing the back of his sleeping queen. I certainly would have liked to be the sleeping queen! Oh! The men will get to see some female nudity also, mostly in the love scene between the Queen and Leonidas but if they were expecting more from the orgy scene, they will be disappointed as it is quite brief.
The love scene between Gorgo and Leonidas is tastefully handled and quite beautiful to watch, not only because of the two gorgeous people on the screen but mostly on account of the tenderness between their characters.
For so long, it has been said that such one role or another would be Gerry Butler’s launching role to stardom in Hollywood and for so long, although he outdoes himself in every role he undertakes to portray, Leonidas might well be the one that will shoot him through the roof of stardom. He is so convincing as Leonidas that one would follow him blindly into oblivion. Yes, one would take commands from such a ruler and go to their death willingly. Not only is he strong and can be ruthless at times, he can also be compassionate. This is Gerry Butler at his best, not only physically (yes, those are his real abs! The guy worked so hard on that movie that he sustained some serious injuries and all for the love of his trade and his fans.) but also in his portrayal of this tragic character that was Leonidas of Sparta.
Lena Heady is a good choice for Gorgo. She is gorgeous and has great chemistry with Gerry Butler. One would actually like to imagine them as a real couple but unfortunately we have to be contented that on screen, they look and work well together. She personifies a strong queen Gorgo who is not only loving towards her husband and child but also towards her people. She is ready to do anything to get her husband back though she sends him to battle with the words: “Spartan! Come back with your shield in your hand or on it!” She convinces us that she is a Spartan woman though we are also convinced that she so loves her husband that she is ready to humiliate herself to get the support from the Council.
The other cast members are also excellent. Dominic West gave me chills whenever he was in one scene and his villain is reminiscent of a snake about to strike. Vincent Regan who had attracted my attention more than Brad Pitt, in “Troy”, delivers once again a brilliant performance as the Captain of Leonidas’ 300. His pain is so evident in his eyes as he sees his son being killed before his very eyes. His subsequent killing rampage to avenge his dead son and his words to Leonidas as the latter says: “My heart is broken to you!” to which he replies: “My heart is not broken. I have filled it, filled it with hate!” Michael Fassbinder as Stelios, the soulful-eyed Spartan who says: “Then we will fight in the shade!” is not only a very handsome actor that I got to discover but you couldn’t help but notice him in every scene he was and not on account of his leather codpiece. David Wenham is a good actor and I enjoyed his performance as “Faramir” in “Lord of the Rings” but I believe he wasn’t the right choice as the narrator, Dilios, as I felt his voice droning me to sleep at times. I did like his performance though as Dilios when he is fighting.
Finally, I am not a big fan of CGI effects but I have to admit those were the most realistic ones I have ever seen so far. The water, the cliff, the rocks, the elephant, the arrows, etc. all looked so real that you actually felt as if you were actually witnessing the actual battle at the Hot Gates.
Definitely a movie worth seeing more than once and not just on account of Gerry Butler though he rules supreme in it!
A bit die hard? Sure, but this is the fever that exists among these 'Tartan' women. I felt their wrath about a year back when I was shocked to see that Gerard Butler was the most requested actor during our open call from the fans.
Stay tuned for updates.