Love crappy movies but are too ashamed to admit it? Are you a big Rob Schneider fan but you're tired of being burned? Not sure if you want to waste your money on the same old movie? That's why you have Joe.
Joe Loves Crappy Movies is by Joseph Dunn. Joe willingly goes to see the very worst that Hollywood has to offer. Whenever a crappy movie comes out Joe will be there to see it, make fun of it, and actually review it. Nothing is safe, and nothing is sacred. From the big budget action disasters to the low brow fart based comedies, to anything starring Martin Lawrence? Joe will tear it apart.
With each entry you'll get not only a comic poking fun at the movie, but also a detailed review. Joe's not educated in film or cinematography or acting, he's just a guy that draws comics and likes movies. So if you're looking for the everyman perspective and a little joke in comic form... you're in the right place.
Starring: Gerard Butler, Lena Headey, Dominic West, David Wenham, Vincent Regan, Michael Fassbender, Rodrigo Santoro
Directed by: Zack Snyder
Warner Brothers - Official Site of the Movie
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Is anyone really going to be surprised that I liked 300? A stylized comic book adaptation retelling the ledged of a real battle where 300 Spartan soldiers held an army of tens of thousands of soldiers at bay. Throw into the mix enough testosterone filled scenes of blood, boobs and flying limbs to turn your grandma into a dude and you’re cooking with gas! 300 has everything so it’s no wonder I liked it, but if no one is surprised that an old school geek like myself liked 300, what would you say if I told you that I didn’t love it?
For all it offers, 300 couldn’t live up to it’s own hype. I’m as shocked as you are. A little blood and a little boob usually go a long way with me, but after weeks of anticipation I found myself leaving the theater entertained but not overwhelmed. 300 was fun, and loud, and violent as hell but when a sold out IMAX viewing on opening weekend can't live up to the massive hype floating around a movie, then either I'm too jaded or the magic might not be there.
Of course I’ve got no right to say then when in it’s first weekend 300 was able to cash in hard with over 70 million dollars knocking last weeks "Best March opening ever" from Wild Hogs out of the top spot and square off their bikes. 300 made so much money that if you told me there were plans to rape history with a fabricated sequel I wouldn't be surprised at all. We’d do a lot of Internet complaining but you know 301 would make all kinds of money. Let’s pray it never happens.
For me the movie just didn’t meet the buzz surrounding it. There was so much talk about the gore. What gore, the flying slow motion limbs? Cool, but hardly extreme by today's standards. Maybe the hyped gore had more to do with the glaringly obvious digital blood that sprayed all over everything and everyone during every second of every battle. As plentiful as it was it read as CGI and with every gush I was taken out of the moment and reminded that some animation company made a lot of money last year, and probably never want to look at the color red again.
The hyped gore most likely refers more to things like the decapitations (with an S as in - more than one), which again were cool visually but the lifeless bodies fall to the ground so slowly that by the time the gushing neck meets the dirt you're already looking for the next big kill. Thankfully you don’t have to wait long. As in the original Frank Miller graphic novel, the invading god-king Xerxes (played like a chameleon by newly LOST Rodrigo Santoro) throws everything he has at King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) and his 300. One round after another, one great conceptualized villain after another. Imperial ninjas, grenade tossing magicians, charging rhinos, giants, and even armored elephants (that look great but don't come close to comparing to the incredible behemoths in Return of the King.) I loved that the movie has this endless supply of differing adversaries. If it had been the same foot soldiers over and over again pounding against the shields of the 300, that would have gotten real old real quick. So even though the historical look and accuracy of these different warriors had more to do with what Frank Miller though would look cool than what might have actually happen, I’m glad the comic book ledged abused that artistic license.
The formula of introducing new and more powerful adversaries actually reminded me a lot of Kung Fu Hustle where one person would define themselves as the toughest bitch on the block only to get taken down by someone unimaginably and unsuspectingly more bad ass. The only difference is that the 300 were consistently on top finding different ways to stand together and hold the enemy back.
I might be remembering this wrong but was there a mutant orgy? Hype is one thing but I don’t think anyone was expecting a goat man to be smoking opium while the hunch back gets a rub down from Darkman with tits. This scene is thankfully brief but makes the awkward rave in Matrix: Revolutions look like a 12-year-old’s birthday party in a church basement. None of the mutant orgy/interspecies erotica stuff is even in the comic and you have to wonder how Frank Miller, a man notoriously wary about allowing his material to meet the big screen feels about director Zack Snyder’s interpretation. You never know though. It might have been dirty Frank’s last minute addition to spice things up. It wouldn’t surprise me from the guy that writes about men feeding people to dogs and getting their dicks shot off.
If it were Snyder’s doing, it wouldn’t be the only liberty he took with his adaptation. From adding character’s like the leathery-skinned giant and the handless executioner, to fleshing out the role of the Queen Gorgo (Lena Headly). In the graphic Novel the queen only has a few lines before the King is off to battle with his 300 bodyguards. The film gives her a whole subplot that adds to the political angle of the difficulties a nation faces when going to war. I loved this angle and appreciated these scenes as a break in the action and a reminder of what these warriors were fighting for.
I did have some mixed emotions on how the role of women in Sparta was portrayed. On one hand you have the queen saying thins like, "Come home with your shield or on it." and gives approving nods before the Leonidas kicks people into pits, but on the other hand she's a little too willing to jump into bed to solve her problems. Powerful female presence? Royal slut? She makes you think that she’s a woman willing to make sacrifices for the good of her nation but I think she just can’t go without for more than 20 minutes. She's got the Black Snake Moan.
Mutant love and slutty queens are a blast to talk about but there are two big stories with 300 and neither of them has to do with characterization or the plot. Everyone is either complaining or defending the excessive use of slow motion and the way the film was shot completely on blue screen with digital backgrounds added in later. With the backgrounds I was pretty impressed. It doesn’t hold a candle to the similar work done on Sin City but for the most part it’s very convincing.
As for the slow motion let me label myself right now as a “defender” instead of a “complainer”. In moderation it’s a brilliant tool that can help build the drama and accentuate the action. I’m tired of shaking hand-held cameras that “make you feel like you’re part of the action”. I’d rather be able to see what’s going on then throw up in my pop corn any day. That said, 300 really goes over board slowing down everything from sword swings to, enemies charging, to people having sex. I got a great view but there’s a fine line between artistic editing and filler.
The best example of action that uses the best of slow motion and real time fighting is in the battle with the giant. That scene finds a good comfort zone and ends up being one of the more entertaining confrontations in the film.
Does it matter that 300 is not even remotely historically accurate? From King Leonidas actual death on the first day of battle to Xerxes reaching Sparta where he taunted the city with the king’s head and was even offered a night with the early to bed Queen, there’s a lot of room to question what’s going on in 300. 300 is told as a tale of legend. The kinds of story warriors tell around the campfire the night before battle to inspire and invigorate. A story like that requires a bit of embellishment and elaboration. If a white lie or a little omission of truth will keep your men inspired then so be it. And if moviegoers aren’t picking up on that then the sepia backgrounds, un-armored warriors and video game blood should maybe be an indication that things aren’t exactly “real”.
Ultimately I think most moviegoers want to have a good time, and on that, the movie delivers. If you want the truth… well… start writing 301 before someone else writes it worse.
Rating: 7.5 out of 10 - There’s not much to say. I think the box office take says it all. 300 might be the title, but the real number of the weekend is 70 million. The huge turnout all but solidifies that the highly rumoured, highly controversial follow-up project for Zack Snyder will most likely get on the fast track. That project is Watchmen, a revolutionary comic from the 80’s that changed the way the next generation approached and wrote superhero stories. I have mixed emotions on the subject because it’s really one of the finest comics ever written and I almost feel it would be best to set myself up for disappointment now.
I’m going to say yes because I know that the comic adaptation end of things will itch away at me until I own it, but I’m reluctant to say that 300 is DVD worthy. After more than a few sittings you’re going to start and feel those down moments, and is the action enough to hold our interest. It’s cool, that’s for sure, but by the time a super dooper double-disc Spartan edition comes out won’t the “next big thing” already have visually impressed us? The movie’s a lot of fun though so against my sourpuss instincts, the chances that this will (and should) end up in my DVD collection are more likely than not.
Though my comic pokes fun at all the yelling Gerard Butler does in the promotions of this film, it’s not nearly as dramatic as any booming trailer or I could imply. You have to give the guy a little slack because at the other end of all that yelling is an army of men he’s trying to inspire as they march into battle. And for every enraged scream there’s a quiet moment with his queen or one of his soldiers or even the enemy. Some negative reviews have implied that 300 is all grinding teeth in slow motion and power crunches in-between every take, but there’s as much capable acting and poetic storytelling as there is yelling in 300.
Spiderman 3 IMAX - I saw 300 in IMAX and if you’ve ever been to IMAX screening you know that the only previews they show are for other IMAX films. It used to be that all you’d get were previews for geological documentaries or Cameron’s latest voyage to the Titanic, but ever since The Matrix sequels were simultaneously released on regular screens and on IMAX, real movies have been making it to the big (BIG) screen as well.
I got an extra big look at the Spiderman 3 trailer and it’s too soon to tell how well it will all read at that size. The action is fast and all over the place, but trailers are typically cut so that you’re darting your head back and forth on a normal sized screen, so on IMAX it’s like trying to focus on a super-ball shot out of a cannon into the Guggenheim. Complimentary neck braces should be available outside every screening of this IMAX experience. Hopefully the actual film will bring some clarity to the battles. I’ve avoided that 7 minute Spidey/Goblin battle, that’s online now, as best I could but still managed to catch Harry Goblin-Gliding head first into a pipe on a clip from Best Week Ever. From what I hear the clip is absolutely incredible, but I’m not ready to have my Spiderman socks blown off just yet. May’s not that far away.
I’m sure a lot of you saw 300 this weekend and if you’ve got something to say about it you should stop by tonight for the The Triple Feature! Tom, Gordon and I will be talking about it in depth and taking calls from those eager to add their own spin on things. The show starts at 10 pm EST, so if you’re up and around, stop by. Should be fun.
Thanks for reading!
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Joe – The creator of the strip who has embraced giving crappy movies the chance they deserve. Like the majority of the cast he’s obsessed with boobs.
First Appearance - The Introduction
Yeo – Yeo is Joe’s wife and often the voice of reason in the strip. Having her act rational allows the rest of the cast to embrace being in a comic strip which primarily involves randomly punching people, interacting with fictional characters and talking about boobs. Yeo is smart, beautiful and way too good for Joe. Don’t tip her off.
First Appearance - Fever Pitch
Irv – Joe’s movie-going sidekick who’s always down for watching Jason Statham crescent moon kick some thug through a plate glass window and getting some drinks before after and during a Vin Diesel movie. Like the majority of the cast he’s obsessed with boobs.
First Appearance - Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior
Agent 337 George Jones – A government Agent that took over for Joe after he was bad-mouthing President Bush in the V for Vendetta strip. George ran the show for over a month bring a much needed sense of patriotism and justice to both the strips and reviews. He eventually got too attached to his work, empathizing with Joe’s plight to give crappy movies a fair shake. In a way he came to love crappy movies as well and was pushed out of the position. He spiraled out of control and ended up in prison. His adventures will be told in the limited series JLCM Presents: 337 Locked Up which is set to début Christmas of 09.
First Appearance - V for Vendetta
Other Notable Appearances: Stay Alive, Ice age 2, Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector, Slither, Here Comes Guest week, Let’s Go To Prison
Leonidas – The former king of Sparta who has traveled into the future and is having trouble coping with the modern times. Yelling loudly and kicking people into giant holes doesn’t really work the same way it did in the olden days. As time as gone by he’s adjusted but it’s a safe bet that he’s always one bad message away from throwing a spear through someone.
First Appearance - 300
Other Notable Appearances: Four Brothers, Strip# 300, The Golden Compass, Rambo, Untraceable, The Ladies of Max Paybe
Palpatine – Former Senator, Emperor of the Galactic Empire, Sith Lord... He shows up in the Joe Loves Crappy movies galaxy on occasion to let people know that they’re being stupid. No one’s really sure how he shows up in this universe but chances are it breaks all kinds of copywrite laws.
First Appearance - Episode III: The Dark Side
Other Notable Appearances: Four Brothers, Night Watch, Saw 3, Are We Done Yet
Slow Billy – Billy is a sweet kid but he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed. If you’re watching him for the day be prepared to explain to him the plot of the movie or how popcorn works or, not so much where babies come from, but what babies are. He’s a complete moron.
First Appearance - Four Brothers
Other Notable Appearances: The Chronicles of Narnia, The Da Vinci Code, Vantage Point, Journey to the Center of the Earth
Kyle the Movie Snob – Be careful what fun facts about movies you tell your friends at a friendly gathering or in line for the latest blockbuster, because if you’re even slightly wrong, Kyle will be more than happy to let you know. He usually gets what’s coming to him though. Poor guy has cracked three ribs since joining the JLCM cast.
First Appearance - Ultraviolet
Other Notable Appearances: 16 Blocks, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Transformers, Journey to the Center of the Earth
Jean-Luc Picard – Another lawsuit waiting to happen is Jean Luc Picard who, towards the end of the strip’s first year, became the go-to background character. If there was ever a seat to fill or a random person to place wandering around in the background, nine times out of ten it was Picard. While Picard has crossed paths with Irv he and Joe have never met. Perhaps they will some day but for now just can an eye on the background.
First Appearance - The Producers
Other Notable Appearances: I’m not telling you, that’s no fun. It’ like Where’s Waldo – go find him!
Ice Cream Sandwich – Delicious and… deadly? Usually when you see someone eating an Ice Cream sandwich, someone else is experiencing a substantial amount of pain. Still, how nice is an ice cream sandwich on a hot summer day?
First Appearance - Saw IV
Other Notable Appearances: Bee Movie, Run Fatboy Run, Saw V