There's really only one movie opening wide today -- and though the film's about an underdog going up against a superior opponent, when it comes to this weekend's box office, it's quite the other way around.
300: The long-awaited movie based on Frank Miller's graphic novel comes roaring into theaters today, backed by a gargantuan marketing campaign and tons of dazzling visuals. Gerard Butler stars as Leonidas, king of Sparta, who -- when his kingdom is threatened by the Persian king Xerxes -- leads a band of 300 men into battle against the mighty Persian army.
First off, I have to admire any movie that puts the words "Battle of Thermopylae" on the lips of every young male under the age of 30. History teachers everywhere must be weeping with joy. The advancing drumbeat for this movie has been defeaning for a while now, and Gerard Butler is a rising star, so quite a few female fans will be lining up for this movie, too. (Confession: I have a huge crush on Butler -- and apparently I'm not the only one -- with whom I once locked gazes at a press event, and who's much better looking in person than he is on the big screen. Um, what was I saying? ANYWAY.)
As for the movie itself? The graphics -- a combination of live action and CGI -- are awesome, the action is cool, and let's just say the amount of time Butler and his co-stars spent in the gym was well worth the effort. The fanboys are going to eat this one up with a spoon and mop up the rest with a hunk of bread. Who cares that the dialogue's cheesy (I lost count of the number of times Butler yelled out, "WE ... ARE ... SPARTA!!!"), that there isn't much of a plot, and that in the end, the movie's basically a glorified video game? It wants to be a glorified video game. "Glorified video game" sells. So while it ain't everyone's cup of tea, 300 will drive folks to the theaters in droves, and I'm not going too far out on a limb when I say it'll have a bigger opening than Ghost Rider.
Showtimes & tickets | Trailer | Behind-the-scenes video|
Gerard Butler AIM interview | Best movies based on comic books
Also opening wide this week:The Ultimate Gift is a heartwarming-type movie from the people who made One Night With the King; Drew Fuller (Charmed) stars as a guy who must do good deeds in order to inherit his grandfather's money. It's opening on 797 screens, which I guess qualifies as "wide." It teaches valuable life lessons, I'm sure, but against 300? It's toast.
My predictions below; make yours by Saturday at 2pm. And if you've seen 300, please go ahead and let us know what you think: mindlessly entertaining video game, or cinematic masterpiece?