Friday, April 13, 2007

300 vs. Shooter

I just realized as I typed that title that you might be expecting now that this piece will be about who I would think would win in a fight, the 300 men of the Spartan army or Marky Mark Walhberg’s titular hero, Shooter. That isn’t what this is going to be at all though. Sorry. In fact, even I’m a little disappointed now. Well I hope you’ll keep reading anyways.

What I really wanted to do was do a different kind of review of these two male oriented films, comparing why one of them works and is enjoyable and why the other one is horribly bad and enjoyable for reasons that were completely unintended by the film’s creators.

Obviously if you follow films at all, you’ll know that 300 and Shooter are different kinds of movies, even though they are both geared towards male audiences. 300 is much more stylized with its green-screen heavy CG effects whereas Shooter is more interested in the type of special effects that involve large explosions. Also 300 is an historically-themed film (I say that, because while it is based on a real event, the film doesn’t really stick to the facts to say the least), while Shooter is set in the present. But their goal is definitely the same; get males into the seats. 300 has been immensely successful in this task, having pulled in almost $200 million already, where Shooter has only achieved a rather paltry $36.7 million (as of the April 6th box office reports). So why is one movie much more successful than the other one?

Well there are a few reasons that one could point to. One is that 300 is based on a graphic novel by acclaimed artist, Frank Miller, which gives it a built in fan base not only from the people who read that particular work, but also from those who saw the film Miller co-directed with Robert Rodriguez in 2005, Sin City, which was also based on one of his graphic novels. Of course though Shooter has an actual star in it, in the form of one Marky Mark Wahlberg, while 300 had only one actor I’d ever heard of before in it, and that was only because he was on Lost. So I’d say these two things pretty much cancel each other out.

Another reason for 300’s greater box office take might have to do with its substantially higher promotional budget, or at least what I must assume was a larger promotional budget. 300 was all over the place for at least a month leading up to its release. You could see it on websites and on TV all the time. Shooter however seemed to have less of a presence in those areas. I saw the ads for it, but they weren’t quite as omnipresent as the ads for 300 seemed to be. It didn’t hurt that 300 had amazing trailers while Shooter had a rather lackluster one, but certainly it seemed that the studio execs at Warner Brothers predicted better things for 300 than the studio execs at Paramount did for Shooter. (I just want to mention that I found it rather surprising that they never mentioned that Shooter was directed by Antoine Fuqua, the director of Training Day. It seems to me that one would want to mention that the film you could go and see was directed by the same guy who directed a film lots of people went to see and lots of people enjoyed. In comparison, they always mentioned that Zach Snyder directed 300 and he had only directed one film before, the disappointing remake of Dawn of the Dead (another note within this note: Snyder's Dawn of the Dead has a rating of 7.3 on imdb whereas Training Day has a 7.4. Just thought you might want to know that.).)

My hope deep down though is that the difference in the box office totals of these films can be traced to the simple fact that 300 is a much better film than Shooter. I know that quality of the film doesn’t always matter when counting up the box office receipts (the boring screen adaptation of Dan Brown’s excellent novel, The DaVinci Code made more than $217 million in the US alone), but sometimes that can actually matter, and I think that it certainly could have here. 300 was a rather original tale that was surprising (to those of us who hadn’t read the graphic novel or studied ancient Greek history), sometimes funny, and intensely violent. Shooter, however, was about as derivative as they come. Nothing about that movie surprised me except that it took too long to end it and that I’ve never seen or heard such blatant product placement in my life (apparently evil government agencies use Google Maps rather than their vast satellite array or massive illegal human tracking databases to determine where people live, a product placement that I partially believe was actually paid for by Mapquest as a way of smearing Google Maps. Also government agencies can easily hack the customer databases of FTP, which my friends and I all agreed was definitely a product placement paid for by FTP’s rivals in the flower delivery business, 1-800-Flowers and KaBloom.). And since a lot of the immensely large box office totals of the past are made up of repeat business (I believe that every single girl between the ages of 13-20 saw Titanic fifteen times), it makes sense that 300 would pull in bigger totals because wouldn’t you want to see a movie that’s more fresh and original rather than the film about a man framed for a crime he didn’t commit, a storyline that is easily one of the top Hollywood clich├ęs of all-time?

300 isn’t a great movie really, but it does at least make sense, something that definitely can’t be said of Shooter, which gets tangled in its own tale worse than Alberto Gonzalez did trying to talk his way out of the US Attorney scandal. And I’d like to think that its that reason that helped propel it to such box office success, rather than the fact that it has a lot of bloody violence and some nudity.

Rating: 30068%

P.S. Alright, since you wasted your time and actually read all of this even though I teased you with the possibility of a piece determining who would win in a fight, the 300 soldiers of the Spartan army or Marky Mark and his assault weapons, I think its only fair to give you what you were hoping for, so here it goes.

This is a tough battle to predict because obviously Marky Mark has the superior weaponry. And he’s also quite stealthy, which I can’t really say about the Spartans, who made no attempt to hide their presence from the enemy. So I think early on the Spartans would suffer a great deal of casualties, simply because they would be completely surprised not only by Marky Mark, but by his weapons of choice which would be to the Spartans what a flying car would be to us; a complete shock. After a bit of regrouping, I think the Spartans might actually be able to hang with Marky Mark for a while, because I’m not giving him the benefit of a partner this time, like he had in most of the movie, so I think he wouldn’t be successful in as many of his attacks this time. In the end I think the sheer size of the Spartan army would overwhelm Marky Mark and his excellent shooting ability would fail him in the close combat in which the Spartan army thrives. I would completely change my opinion here though if Marky Mark created a catchphrase to utter after slaying his enemies like, “you’ve just been SHOT!” or “Shooter got you!” In that case, he’d dominate them in both the comedy scale and on the battlefield.


noLan said...

i just read your comment and it had a point until u said smth about 300 not being a great movie.i mean cmon, if i just lived somewhere in the west ,the box office would have hit 200 mil like 2 weeks ago lol . i watched it 9 times only the first week and i distributed the dvd to every friend i know, and before you know it , it was being played in univeristy auditoriums all over the place.
i come from kosovo btw where these kind of movies arrive on dvd clubs just the next day they are released in the us ( not kidding ). its such a powerful inspiring and beautiful film. never enjoyed a movie more than this, i just like it more than braveheart and gladitator .

Nathan Chapman said...

I see you have attracted the attentions of nolan as well. He seems to get very upset by anyone saying anything even slightly negative about 300. I posted on my blog that I enjoyed it but it was flawed, and I enjoyed your well-rounded review.

aFILMic said...

Thanks for the comments. I'm always glad to hear from someone. I hope you guys keep reading even if I don't continue to write about 300, which I might start doing just to get some readers.