So I just got back about an hour ago, and thought I would post my thoughts (nothing terribly coherent, just general impressions).
This movie is NOT the “cinematic revolution” some people are making it out to be. It is NOT something entirely new or original or anything of the sort. It IS an archetype of everything that is wholly and incontrovertibly badass.
Every actor in the film is ripped to shreds. They are not bodybuilder-huge–they just look dangerous. Leonidas looks like he could run through a brick wall. The guys at gymjones.com clearly did a fantastic job training the cast, however sub-optimal their crossfit-derived methodologies may or may not be.
This movie is EPIC, and by epic I mean “copious use of extremely dramatic slow-motion and exagerrated poses.” I would say that fully half of the film takes place in slo-mo. This is okay, however, because it allows the viewer to better appreciate the fine cinematic detail that goes into depicting someone being stabbed in the face. And there is a lot of face-stabbing. The visual imagery is stunning, from a cloud of arrows literally blotting out the sun, to Xerxes unblinkingly staring down Leonidas, to battle scenes that cut in and out of slow-motion so fluidly you almost don’t realize it’s happening. It’s the most arresting visual effect I’ve seen since The Matrix.
The plot almost perfectly follows that of the Frank Miller graphic novel, so if you’ve read that, you know what to expect. Much like Sin City, this film really looks like it was pulled directly from the panels of Miller’s work. While the effect is generally positive, the fact that I knew exactly what was going to happen took a little of the intensity out of the film.
I walked out of the theater with a strong desire to pick up the heaviest thing I could find and throw it as far as I could. I can really think of no better encapsulation of everything masculine and/or testosterone-filled. Again, while it is not by any means a landmark achievement in cinema, it is a damn fine movie which should be appreciated by everyone on these boards.