Now the odd thing here is that when I had this dream the night before last, I had not yet seen the (nicely done, if not horrendously overhyped) movie “300″, based on Frank Miller’s graphic novel of the same name (and almost identical artistic style).
You see, I had ordered that and a few other testosterone-laden movies (Flags of Our Fathers, Letters from Iwo Jima) from Netflix and perhaps I was cherishing the thoughts of watching some heavily CGI’ed funky looking Persian bad guys get pummeled by the (noble?) Spartans. Of course, I have to wonder if the real Spartans were all as gym-toned as these actors were - not a one of them (aside from the females and the old fogeys who were the city elders) lacked an eight-pack stomach or arms like boa constrictors.
I mean, they were so busy kicking everyone else’s butts and training for war, you’d think the gym would be a bit of an after thought…? But then again, I guess hefting spears and shields about all day and slaughtering foes in combat could be good exercise in itself. I just wouldn’t think it would get a person “weightlifter big”, much less “fitness model big” (and toned).
It must be good genetics, then, because the tribal Germans depicted in the opening sequences of Gladiator (the Russell Crow vehicle from around 2000) did a lot of the same sort of butt-kicking that the Spartans did, with not entirely dissimilar weaponry — and they were generally depicted as kind of gristle-having tubby (but still presumably with enough muscle under the fat to lay a decent smackdown on some Romans and one another) guys with gnarly hair.
Although the graphics and general cinephotography rocked, I think that the movie itself was a tad sub par. Granted, the movie and the graphic novel it is based upon appeal to a 12-year old boy’s sense of “underdog smashes big bully with lots of blood and cool one-liners”, e.g. “Tonight, we dine in HELL!1!11!!” mixed up with thinly veiled homoeroticism (big greasy men wearing only leather jockstraps and red capes in close quarters) and a lot of physics-defying stop-motion action shots. I mean, you’ve got two audiences - three if you count the womenfolk who also fantasize about the greasy men, sold at the first trailer!
Lots of interesting contrasts as well: the big greasy men fought largely against heavily clothed (not counting “Big Ol’ Queen” Xerxes) Persians, the most of which you saw was the smallest bit of facial detail (commander types) and in many cases, nothing at all (the Immortals / ninja type guys). Also, there is the relatively similarities of the Spartans’ appearance vs. the variety of Persians (given their numbers, not altogether unexpected) — but the Persians had an edge in sheer freakiness - such as the giant that fights Leonidas toward the end, the freaky fat guys with axes either mounted to their arms, or formed out of some carbon-based living tissue (hard to tell there) or the use of War Elephants and Battle Rhinos.
Artwork aside, I find that the plot line involving the intrigue behind the lines back at Sparta could have been developed a little further (I mean, as long as you are going deeper than the canon of the graphic novel, ye might as well go whole hog) - particularly the background of the “senator” Theron. I mean, this guy was appeared to be about the same age as Leonidas (mid 40s) if not somewhat younger, which also mapped out to the rough ages of the other captains in the Army.
Given that the ages of service for the typical Spartan was from 7 to 65… how is it that this dude gets out of the Army? I guess even the Spartans had to put up with their share of privileged jerks who could use their family influence to avoid or shorten military service.
And then there is Xerxes… how many gold piercings can a guy get away with, and not look completely stupid? I mean, the portable throne platform was quite cool, as well as the flunkies - but the threaded gold jockstrap and harness was borderline gay camp. But hey, if you are an emperor of a world superpower who thinks he’s a god… I guess you can wear whatever you feel like wearing, and be able to not have people laugh you off your throne.
At least not, in public.