DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com
.
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main
FOX

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Jason Friedberg, Aaron Seltzer
Cast:
Sean Maguire, Carmen Electra, Ken Davitian, Kevin Sorbo, Diedrich Bader, Method Man, Jareb Dauplaise, Travis Van Winkle
Writing Credits:
Jason Friedberg, Aaron Seltzer

Tagline:
Get Ready For the Next Big Epic Comedy.

Synopsis:
Prepare to fight ... back tears of laughter watching this ferociously funny Unrated Pit-of-Death Edition of Meet the Spartans - with ruder, cruder footage not shown in theaters and an army of hysterical, historical special features!

The battle begins when the heroic Leonidas, armed with nothing but leather underwear and a cape, leads a ragtag group of 13 - count'em, 13! - warriors to defend their homeland against the invading Persians, whose ranks include Ghost Rider, Rocky Balboa, the Transformers, and a hunchbacked Paris Hilton!

Box Office:
Budget
$30 million.
Opening Weekend
$18.505 million on 2605 screens.
Domestic Gross
$38.232 million.

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 1.85:1/16X9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Surround 2.0
Spanish Dolby Surround 2.0
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 87 min.
Price: $29.99
Release Date: 6/3/2008

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Writers/Directors Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer and actors Nicole Parker, Ike Barinholtz, Kevin Sorbo, and Sean Maguire
• “Know Your Spartans” Pop Culture Trivia Game
• “Meet the Spartans: The Music” Featurette
• “Prepare for Thrusting” Featurette
• “Tour the Set with Ike Barinholtz” Featurette
• Gag Reel
• Trailers


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Harman/Kardon DPR 2005 7.1 Channel Receiver; Toshiba A-30 HD-DVD/1080p Upconverting DVD Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Meet The Spartans: Unrated "Pit-Of-Death" Edition (2008)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 17, 2008)

After 2006’s Date Movie and 2007’s Epic Movie, shouldn’t 2008’s Meet the Spartans have been called Gladiator Movie or something like that? I guess the filmmakers decided to do something different in terms of title.

It remains to be seen if the film itself vary from the parody format established in those two flicks. Spartans uses 300 as its main influence. Indeed, that film donates the entire plot of Spartans and follows it pretty slavishly. If you know the story of 300, you’re aware of how things will progress here.

As always, the twist comes from the attempts at comedy along the way. Spartans takes the story of 300 but throws out zillions of gags and pop culture references along the way. That’s the gist of the flick’s plot: 300 with a wacky spin.

That’s been the way the flick’s predecessors went, so there was no reason to expect anything different here. Spartans sticks more closely to one source than the others, however. Date Movie and Epic Movie tended to meld plot lines from a mix of flicks; one would dominate, but not to the extreme found here. Really, the story of Spartans does almost nothing to deviate from its model.

If you’ve seen the prior flicks, you’ll know the kind of humor to expect here. It provides simple – and often nonsensical – references to various cultural elements and expects us to be amused by the juxtapositions. For instance, early on King Leonidas (Sean Maguire) must battle a dancing penguin. What purpose does this Happy Feet reference serve? None that I can discern. It’s pointless and gratuitous.

It’s also not alone. Various cultural references crop up frequently through the film, and the vast majority exist for no logical reason. When Ghost Rider pops up in one sequence, we’re left with no coherent reason for that choice. The reference occurs just to exist; it doesn’t fit the movie in any way.

So idiotic is Spartans that it feels the need to telegraph most of its gags. When a Rocky Balboa character appears, the filmmakers make sure to pan to his belt so we can read “Rocky”. If you need the joke to be spoonfed to you in that way, then why even bother? If you can’t get it without so much explanation, there’s no point at all.

The parody here is so uninventive that the writers don’t even bother to attempt humorous names for many of the characters. They must’ve spent their genius with “Traitoro”, the only one that gets a “funny” moniker; the other names either remain the same or change only slightly. For instance, “Queen Gorgo” becomes “Queen Margo”. There’s no comedic reason for the alteration, as there’s nothing funny about “Margo” or its use here. It’s just another example of the creative bankruptcy on display.

And so goes the rest of Spartans. Not a single gag actually amuses, and the flick’s preoccupation with gay jokes gets old very quickly. Sure, 300 featured a certain homoerotic vibe, and Spartans mocks that – we get it. But enough is enough. The theme grows tiresome early in the film, so it just becomes more and more annoying as the flick progresses.

In addition to the gay jokes, Spartans can’t get enough of its body function gags and slapstick bits. In the latter realm, the film shows an unfortunate belief that it’s really funny to see adults beat up kids. Again, I recognize this reflects the source material, but I’m sorry – I just don’t think it’s amusing to see Leonidas and the others abuse his son.

Geez, Spartans barely qualifies as a feature-length movie. Though its full running time takes us to 87 minutes, the actual story ends around the 67-minute mark. How does it fill the remaining 20 minutes? With credits and a long American Idol spoof. It also injects deleted scenes in the midst of the credits. That’s a bizarre choice; it takes us back to earlier parts of the flick for no particular reason. If the filmmakers thought these were funny, why not put them in the body of the movie? But hey, it allows Spartans to run more than an hour, even though it means this may be the most padded flick ever.

What kind of movie is Spartans? It’s the sort of flick in which not one but two scenes of ball-licking occur – in the first five minutes! It’s the sort of flick with a shelf life of approximately 12 minutes; how else can you explain a gag that involves Sanjaya from Idol? It’s the sort of flick that makes you wish movies had never been invented.


The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B+/ Bonus C

Meet the Spartans appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The transfer offered a consistently positive affair.

Sharpness seemed solid. A few wide shots looked slightly soft at times, but those remained in the minority. Most of the flick looked crisp and well-defined. I saw no issues with jagged edges or shimmering, and edge enhancement appeared absent. No source flaws cropped up either.

In terms of color, Spartans went with the same golden, desaturated palette utilized in 300. This meant a lack of many vivid tones, but the hues were well rendered within the stylistic constraints. Blacks appeared dark and dense, while shadows showed good clarity and delineation. Overall, this was a very satisfying image.

I felt the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Spartans offered a pretty involving effort. All of the action sequences brought the five channels to life. These presented good localization of elements and blended together nicely. The material spread out the spectrum and made this an active, involving setting much of the time.

Audio quality appeared good. Speech sounded distinct and natural, and I encountered no concerns related to intelligibility or edginess. Effects appeared clean and accurate, and they showed reasonable depth when necessary. Music also demonstrated good dynamics, with bright highs and rich bass. Overall, the audio of Spartans supported the material well.

When we head to the extras, we start with an audio commentary from writers/directors Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer and actors Nicole Parker, Ike Barinholtz, Kevin Sorbo, and Sean Maguire. All sit together for this running, screen-specific chat that looks at general experiences during the shoot. The actors dominate as they discuss training, makeup, stunts, and other aspects of the production.

This leads to a rollicking track during which the participants often speak on top of each other. In terms of content, you won't learn a ton about Spartans. We get a smattering of notes, but the emphasis is on laughter; those involved chortle over the film and their own interactions. The commentary is actually more enjoyable than I’d expect, but it’s not memorable or particularly useful.

Next comes Know Your Spartans, a pop culture trivia game. It asks questions about many of the folks referenced in the flick. Most of the questions are pretty easy, though I got one wrong about the bands with which Randy Jackson has played; who knew he performed with Charlie Daniels? (By the way, some of the questions change if you play again; I found a mix of new and old when I went through a second time.)

For a form of chapter access, we get Meet the Spartans: The Music. This simply allows you to jump right to any of the movie’s eight musical sequences. Why would you want to do that? No idea, but it’s there as an option.

Two featurettes follow. Prepare for Thrusting lasts five minutes, 14 seconds as it provides notes from stuntman Tim Connolly, Ryan Watson, Brian Patrick Collins, and Chris Gann, and actors Kevin Sorbo, Jareb Dauplaise, and Sean Maguire. It gives us a glimpse of the actors’ physical training, though it sticks with a jokey tone most of the time. That makes it awfully lame.

Finally, Tour the Set with Ike Barinholtz fills six minutes, 39 seconds. The actor takes us around the shoot and lets us see some behind the scenes tidbits. We also get some comments from Sorbo, Maguire, production designer William A. Elliott, and actors Phil Morris, Diedrich Bader and Carmen Electra. A few decent shots appear, but the wacky overtone makes it less useful.

A Gag Reel goes for four minutes, 16 seconds. Should you expect anything other than the standard goofs and gags? Nope – it’s a very typical blooper collection without much to make it worthwhile.

When the disc starts, we get ads for The Onion Movie and Burn Notice. The disc’s trailers area includes two promos for Meet the Spartans as well as one for Futurama: The Beast With a Billion Backs.

After the absurdly unfunny Epic Movie and Date Movie, was there any reason to expect better from Meet the Spartans? Probably not, and the flick definitely fails to improve on its predecessors. It uses the same submoronic template and fails to provoke a single laugh – or even many scenes that don’t provoke eye-rolling and disgust. The DVD features very good picture and audio along with some generally forgettable extras. Stay far away from this ghastly flick.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.2857 Stars Number of Votes: 28
95:
04:
0 3:
02:
191:
View Averages for all rated titles.

.
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main