Remember that Academy Award Gladiator (2000) won for best picture? This film is the direct result of that. |
The estate of Homer should sue.
In the credits, Troy (2004) is said to be inspired by the works of Homer, the great Greek writer of ancient times, yet if he were alive to see what they have wrought, there is no doubt in my mind they would be battling if not in the courts, with swords and shields.
Gone is the existence of the Gods, who in Homer’s book are very much alive and a part of the world, and the siege onTroylasted ten years not the seeming two weeks in the film. I believe Peterson badly under estimates the value of having mythical heroes in such a film. By deleting the Gods, or any aspect with Homer’s books in which the Gods were treated as living creatures Peterson diminishes the mystery of his tale and the majesty of ancient stories in which the belief of Gods was life affirming.
Achilles the great Greek warrior was not entirely human, but rather born of a God and a mortal. His mother dipped him in the sea to protect him against all mortal wounds, holding him by the ankle as she did so. Therefore it makes perfect sense that when he falls in Homer’s book, is an injury to the ankle that is his weakness. Here he is human, but virtually superhuman. Poor Brad Pitt, a good actor and handsome man is not playing a man; he is playing a superhero of the ancient age. There is no explanation as to why he such an extraordinary warrior, nor why he so enjoys combat. There are times Pitt looks more like a surfer dude with perfectly gelled hair than a killer from the Greek army.
And the story that begins it all? Good God could it be any more ridiculous or unbelievable? Rather being asked to judge a beauty contest, Paris (Orlando Bloom) and Hector (Eric Bana) are making peace with King Menelaus (Brendan Gleason) when Helen (Diane Kruger), the King’s wife, falls in love withParis, leaving with him back toTroy. Understandably upset by his brother’s actions, Hector makes it clear that it is not a good thing to leave with the King’s wife. Menelaus goes to his brother, the bombastic and pompous King Agamemnon (Brian Cox) to ask him to go to war with him against Troy, and one thousand ships descend upon Troy.
Now Diane Kruger is a very pretty girl but hardly the face that launched a thousand ships. Nor is there any strong explanation for her love of Paris, a cowardly man who cringes with fear when in hand to hand combat against Helen’s husband. Are we to believe this love? And if we do not how we are t believe the story? There is nothing about Helen that suggestsPariswould be willing t go to war for her, nor for that matter her husband Menelaus. Worse, I saw nothing inParisthat would attract Helen to him!
What we are left with is a bunch of really fine actors in ancient dress, spouting dialogue that would turn Charlton Heston green with envy, and from time to time going to battle against one another.
There is one single great moment in the film, and it comes when old King Priam (Peter O’Toole) goes to Achilles in the dark to ask for the body of his slain son Hector to be given to him for a proper burial. O’Toole, that great old actor knows that this is the best written scene in the film, and that he carries it with his brilliant performance and wonderful voice. Pitt does a fine job in this moment but is aware that it is very much O’Toole’s moment. There is heartache, anger and admiration in O’Toole when he encounters the man who killed his son, yet he kisses both of Achilles’ hands in respect. As they part, Achilles looks at him and says to him that he is a far greater King than the man who commands the Greeks.
The actors do not have characters t play and therefore cannot get under the skin of the roles. Orlando Bloom looks embarrassed to be portraying such a cowardly man after playing the great elf warrior Legolas in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, while Brad Pitt is simply misused as Achilles. Pitt looks the role, as he got himself into incredible condition for the part, yet never does he seem to be content portraying the part. Eric Bana is outstanding as Hector, the dedicated and loyal prince ofTroy, and Brendan Gleason is properly menacing and loud as Menelaus. O’Toole is subtle throughout before stunning us in that quiet scene with Pitt, reminding us that he among the great actors in the English language.
Brian Cox is so far over the top as King Agamemnon one wonders if he has been attending the Al Pacino School of Over Acting. There is nothing Kingly or regal about this man and one understands why Achilles so despises him.
If there is an argument against the over use of computer animation as a special effect tool, this film is it. While The Lord of the Rings pictures superbly merged computer animation and live action together, the effects inTroyand some of the art direction looks like it was created within a computer. The thousand ships look like a video game, and the massive army that descends uponTroymoves curiously like characters in a video game. What was Peterson, a good director thinking?
The howler, the single moment that made me cringe takes place during a massive beach battle and Hector squares off with who he believes to be Achilles. The fighting around the two men stops and the tens of thousands of men at war stop to watch these two fight….COME ON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The DVD is presented in a superb, pristine widescreen print that is so good it almost gives away; many of the moments when computer generated images are being used. There are loads of extras including many behind the scenes documentaries and interviews with the makers of the film. For home entertainment the DVD is vastly superior to the film.