NOTHING CAUSED ME MORE FEAR IN SCHOOL than having someone shout out that I threw like a girl. To get branded with those words would mean you were going to have an especially rough semester at school. I actually was pretty good in throwing a baseball, but I wasn’t so good when it came to playing basketball. Gratefully, I just passed under the radar whenever we would play basketball in PE class. There was always someone worse than me who would suffer the humiliation of getting the moniker for throwing like a girl. And once you were deemed with that label, no matter what you did in class afterwards was never truly appreciated by the other students. I recall at one point I wondered what the girls did in their PE classes to make fun of a student who was not proficient in a particular sport. Notice, I assumed the girls could be just as mean as the boys; I don’t honestly know why that was my way of thinking. There were a few girls in the school who were bullies. Based on the things I experienced, it was natural for me to think that anyone who showed a sign of weakness or inability would be an open target for verbal abuse. For boys, the quickest cut to another boy was telling him he was a sissy or acted like a girl. TIMES HAVE CHANGED AND NOW THROWING like a girl does not have the same connotation; too bad it took such a long time to evolve. Imagine how many boys could have been spared humiliation from their fellow classmates if they understood girls could throw a ball just as well as boys. I know a father who has a daughter who went to college on a scholarship because she was a top baseball pitcher in high school. During her summer vacation, she would attend baseball camp to perfect her pitches. Her Dad would update me on the locations she and her traveling teammates visited and how well she would do in the baseball game. There were a couple of times where she pitched a no-hitter. After hearing this, I wondered how many men would hope they could pitch as well as a girl? The question I would like to know is what is happening in the classroom? Has mankind expanded its thinking to the point where a male student is told he throws like a girl and the boy says thank you? NO MATTER HOW MANY TIMES BEING told she could not compete with men Michelle Payne, played by Teresa Palmer (I Am Number Four, Warm Bodies), knew in her heart she could compete with any man. She just needed someone to take her seriously. This dramatic sport film based on a true story caught my attention because of the movie’s title. With Sam Neill (Jurassic Park franchise, Hunt for the Wilderpeople) as Paddy Payne, Sullivan Stapleton (Gangster Squad, 300: Rise of an Empire) as Darren Weir, Brooke Satchwell (Subdivision, Wonderland-TV) as Therese Payne and Magda Szubanski (The Golden Compass, Kath & Kim-TV) as Sister Dominique; this biographical story had some David and Goliath moments. Fundamentally the story’s arc was not that unusual; what sold me were Teresa’s performance and the action scenes. What was missing for me was seeing more back-story to the Payne family. The scenes that involved the siblings seemed ripe for a further in-depth look at the family. I never really got a sense on where Michelle got her drive. Despite my concerns, knowing this film festival nominated picture was based on a true story made the viewing of it more engaging for me. Also, seeing what Michelle went through to do what she loved was inspiring to me because I appreciated the fact that there essentially should be no preference for a woman or man to try and reach their dreams, whatever they may be.
2 ¼ stars
When I began posting my movie reviews I made a commitment to write one a day for an entire year. It was not always easy; I had to decline social engagements, besides dealing with the electronic gremlins that would mess up my postings from time to time. There were days where my fingers had to do double time to get the review done before the strike of midnight; not that I would turn into a pumpkin, just wouldn’t be able to keep my word. However, I carried out my promise to myself and did it. Some of my friends thought I was crazy with my rigid dedication but I have always had that trait. It is similar to my not eating 5 hours before I go to bed as a means of maintaining my weight. Right from the beginning of this action drama, I could identify with the actors’ dedication in achieving their impressive chiseled physiques besides the characters’ determination in fighting to the death to save their land. I cannot call this a sequel since the writers were clever to create a story that paralleled the story from the previous movie, 300. Sullivan Stapleton (Animal Kingdom, Gangster Squad) played Greek General Themistokles. With the Persian King Xerxes, played by Rodrigo Santoro (What to Expect When You’re Expecting, I Love You Phillip Morris), moving forward in his conquest for all of Greece; Themistokles would have to take his battle to the sea against the king’s massive navy led by skilled commander Artemisia, played by Eva Green (Dark Shadows, Casino Royale). It would take cunning, strategy and most of all courage to try and defeat the Persian forces that outnumbered Themistokles’ fighters. This movie played out like a dramatic opera; there were a multitude of heroic speeches, gruesome fights and passionate pleas. When I said gruesome I meant it because there was so much blood being spilled throughout the entire film that the characters even mentioned they would turn the ocean into a sea of red. It would be hard to talk about the acting since the whole movie had a graphic novel, computer game look to it; the characters were more cartoonish to me. I thought Eva was impressive with her fighting skills, finding it a nice twist to have a female badass. Playing the Spartan Queen Gorgo, I wished Lena Headey (The Purge, Game of Thrones-TV) had more screen time since her character had more dimension to me. This bloody war film started to become repetitive with its cycle of speeches and battles. Do not consider this movie as a history lesson; it was just fun to watch on the big screen. Also, no one could fault the actors for their dedication in contributing to this movie’s sharp look. There were multiple scenes with blood and violence throughout the film.
2 1/3 stars