Critical Consensus: Mighty Thrills, Spartan Plot In "300"; "Gift" Doesn't Keep On Giving

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This week at the movies, we've got 300 mighty Spartans ("300," starring Gerard Butler) and a reluctant do-gooder ("The Ultimate Gift," starring Abigail Breslin). What do the critics have to say?



Fangirls and fanboys, the wait is over. "300," Zack Snyder's CG adaptation of Frank Miller's cult graphic novel sensation is here. And while critics say it's a feast for the eyes, many note it's slightly less a delight for the brain. "300" tells the tale of the ancient Battle of Thermopylae, in which 300 Spartans fought a star-crossed battle against the heavily fortified Persian army. Subtlety is not the order of the day here, nor is slavish attention to historical detail, but the pundits say the movie is visually sumptuous, a spectacle of ultraviolence and visceral thrills. However, others say "300" takes itself seriously to the point of self parody, and lacks compelling characters and cohesive plotting. "300" is currently at 60 percent on the Tomatometer.


Because "Anticipate Defeat!" was less rousing.

"The Ultimate Gift" is a movie about learning the true meaning of wealth, and stepping outside one's self centered existence. These are good lessons to learn, but critics say the movie, while likeable, is too sappy to fully register. "The Ultimate Gift" tells the story of a trust fund kid who stands to inherit the fortune of his recently deceased grandfather -- but only after he completes a series of tasks, which include living on the streets, doing manual labor, and being nice to people. Critics say "The Ultimate Gift" is sweet, heartfelt, and well-meaning -- but also schmaltzy and dramatically inert. At 35 percent on the Tomatometer, this may not be the "Ultimate" viewing experience.


"'Silverado' was 20 years ago. You can change clothes now."

Also opening this week in limited release: the South Korean import "The Host," a monster movie/satire/family drama, is at 94 percent; "Maxed Out," a doc that takes on the credit card industry, is at 85 percent; "Beyond the Gates," a drama about a teacher caught up in the Rwandan genocide starring John Hurt and Hugh Dancy, is at 71 percent; "The Namesake," a drama about a family caught between two cultural worlds starring Kal Penn and Jacinda Barrett, is at 70 percent; and "Exterminating Angels," a French drama about voyeurism and taboos, is at 52 pecent.


"KBBL's going to give me something stupid!"

Recent Historical Epics:
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65% -- Apocalypto (2006)
39% -- Kingdom of Heaven (2005)
16% -- Alexander (2004)
55% -- Troy (2004)
78% -- Gladiator (2000)

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