|Violence Begets Violence
||[Mar. 25th, 2007|02:39 pm]
I went to see 300 last night with somewhat low expectations. The comic was excellent in visuals and structure, but its plot was extremely thin so I was really only going to enjoy the action sequences. As an adaptation it was very good, material was added (the biggest corruption being the introduction of fantasy creatures) but the film stayed more or less true in narrative and atmosphere to the comic. This does not mean it was as good as the comic however.
Whilst the CGI was impressive, you quickly take it for granted and what you are left with is numerous repetitive action sequences that lose any energy through the constant use of slow motion. There are some cool shots from time to time, but they are drowned in a sea of other not so impressive shots that utilise the same techniques. In addition to this the violence is underwhelming because it’s almost all virtual. Perhaps worst of all though, the climax seemed poorly built and I didn’t really care for the characters which was a shame. It does feel like you are watching a novice trying to capture the greatness of Frank Millers vision rather than just seeing the comic in a different media context.
However, for all its faults the film is still quite fun and certainly quite different to most action films. It is style over substance, but there is still plenty of style, and Frank Miller style is awesome. Whilst it does over-use certain editing techniques, it is also competently made and the pacing is far better than it was in Sin City. It doesn’t even attempt to capture the time period and as Empire concluded, it does seem a lot like a long music video, but I will probably buy the DVD because I am a fan of the comic, and this film is very reminiscent of it.
You should not pay too much attention to what I have said because I cannot be overly confident in my conclusions about the film. Alas, the heartfelt analysis is tainted with injustice because my experience of the film was unfortuantely compromised by an event midway through the screening. Two seats across from me on my isle a middle-aged gentleman had told some noisy rude boy chav type behind him to be quiet. The chav responded with distaste for this request with predictable eloquence. I think the exact phrase was, “Shut up you fat C*nt”. The chav then continued to taunt the man in this way, which I thought was unfair because he really wasn’t very fat.
Before long the confrontation escalated. They were both standing up shouting at each other and the chav’s girlfriend was also in there, whining about something. The general theme of the argument seemed to be that they should both sit down and be quiet, but the diplomatic talents of residents from the noble town of Maidenhead tend to be somewhat poor. Rather than agree to both sit down and enjoy the movie they had paid for, they decided to start punching each other.
It was a poor fight. With the chair between them there was no reach and I don’t think either of the men got hit very badly. The middle-aged guy did however rip open the hostile youths t-shirt which rather annoyed him. After all, it did look like it was worth almost £4. This resulted in more shouting. At this point, maybe 3 minutes or so in, random people in the cinema started shouting at them to be quiet or leave. A few others down the front left go get help, and some just stood up and did nothing, except block my view of the film. Everyone still in the room was now watching the fight because it was hard not to, and they complained as they did so. One cannot ignore the irony that the whole room was angry because a real fight was distracting them from a movie they wanted to watch, featuring about 90 minutes of pure imitated violence. I did ponder whether the fight would have broken out if we were watching a Hugh Grant Rom Com. Were those political bastards right? Does film really have this much of an impact?
Whilst I considered these things, the punching continued. It then took a turn for the worse when the chavs girlfriend got in the middle and ended up being punched in the face the middle-aged fellow. I didn’t feel much sympathy for her to be honest. She was very hostile and just as rude as her cowardly boyfriend who was hiding behind her most of the time, shouting idle threats. She was also far louder than either of the men, and after that punch she wouldn’t stop shouting. The minutes rolled on and there were still no cinema attendants about. After a while almost half the room got up and left whilst a few others stood around the fight and clambered over chairs for no other reason I could make out but to see the action more closely. A couple people tried to calm down the hostiles, but they had little impact. There were still random demands from across the room that they shut up and be quiet.
After a while the chav realised he wasn’t making much of a difference with punching, and putting his best cognitive skills to use, determined that missiles would be more effective in disposing of his foe. This was not a fortunate decision for yours truly. Firstly from out of nowhere the chav threw a bottle of whisky at the guy. He missed, despite being less than a metre away, and it hit the floor of my isle. How original of the chav to be drinking at the cinema I thought. He then picked up his purchased cinema drink and threw that. This proved more successful, in that the lid came off and sprayed several isles including my own in what was clearly an alcohol laced soft drink of some kind. Perhaps Pepsi, but I can’t be sure. An irate Indian fellow in front of me retaliated by throwing his popcorn at the chav. It missed.
It had been almost ten minutes at this point and there were still no cinema attendants, which was frankly ridiculous. The fight continued, but the only reason it lasted this long was because of the strange nature of the older contender. Whilst he may have seemed noble for putting an end to this foul mouthed young hoodlum, he wasn’t at all. He would calm down and reassure people that he was ok and would watch the film, then suddenly launch an attack at the guy. He wasn’t verbally aggressive but definitely responsible for most of the physical attacks. In this way the fighting wasn’t very constant, but he kept it going.
Eventually the good people of Odeon came to our rescue in the form of the cinemas assistant manager, a lazy eyed fat geek with bad hair who couldn’t have been older than 25. He was utterly useless. He approached the middle-aged man and asked what was going on, but no one paid attention. And then when the older guy started learing towards the chav again, the Odeon employee tried to get between them and begged to the older man saying, “Don’t do this. This guy just isn’t worth it”. Well hot damn, with skills of persuasion like that this guy is clearly wasted in his chosen career path. If the chav had heard him over his whining girlfriend’s insults, he probably would have hit the Odeon employee and all hell would have broken loose.
I am not really sure what happened next. They turned the film off and the lights came on, which resulted in a bizarrely cool collective sigh from the audience. A few of the chav’s friends turned up from out of nowhere and persuaded him and his girlfriend to leave. He exited the cinema shouting out threats along the lines of, “You’re lucky I don’t slit your f*cking throat man”. The Odeon employee had achieved nothing and just left once the chav had gone.
Things calmed down fairly quickly and the middle-aged man stood up and apologised to the room in a noticeably proud way. Some people applauded him when he did this. Not me however, I thought he was just as bad as the chav. He had done most the punching and reacted badly to what was really a predictable performance from the youth, not to mention making no effort to let paying cinema goers enjoy their film. In short they all ruined the film for me and none of them were worthy of respect. Shortly after, the Odeon attendant returned and asked the man to leave because the police wanted to speak to him. They then put the film back on, but didn’t rewind it. Not much had really happened in that 10 minutes (or any other 10 minutes of the film), but it broke up the flow and for this reason I cannot be sure if the film is as poorly constructed as it seemed. It was also hard to get back into it after all this real life action.
The only real lesson from all this is that the Odeon cinema in Maidenhead is terribly unprepared for any kind of dangerous activity. I could video as many films as I like or even just plain rob the place and do so without much risk of getting caught or detained, unless I decided to take a nap before leaving. That said, the company did the right thing by us poor bastards who had gone for a peaceful evening at the local Cineplex and who instead risked life and limb by getting tangled up in a culture war of some kind. After the film ended, attendants gave each of us two free vouchers, exchangeable for adult cinema tickets at any Odeon cinema for any film, and without an expiry date. I basically made £7 pounds that evening and also got to see most of 300, but I am rather pissed off that the film experience was ruined for me. Still, I look forward to using the tickets and I now intend to find two actors willing to brawl with each other so that next time I go to the cinema and the film isn’t turning out to be very enjoyable, I can signal them to start fighting and leave with more free tickets.