Troy

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Rating: R

Starring:
Brad Pitt as Achilles
Eric Bana as Hector
Orlando Bloom as Paris
Brian Cox as Agamemnon
Diane Kruger as Helen
Sean Bean as Odysseus
Peter O’Toole as Priam
Rose Byrne as Briseis
Brendan Gleeson as Menelaus
Saffron Burrows as Andromache
Julian Glover as Triopas
Tyler Mane as Ajax

Special Features:
“In The Thick of the Battle” (battle sequences)

“From Ruins to Reality” (historical perspective)

“Troy: An Effects Odyssey”

Gallery of the Gods (3-D tour of Mount Olympus and Gods of Ancient Greece)

Easter Eggs

Other Info:
Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
French Language
French and Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 162 Minutes

Synopsis:
This film is based on The Iliad written by Homer.

In 1193 B.C., Trojan princes Hector and Paris arrive in Sparta to make peace with the king, Menelaus. However, in a bad diplomatic move, Paris runs off to Troy with the Spartan queen, Helen. This naturally upsets Menelaus. He turns to his brother, King Agamemnon, to help him get revenge. Agamemnon is the current king of all of Greece and he had long desired to win control over Troy. Paris and Helen’s little affair gives him the perfect excuse to attack the city.

In order to battle the Trojans, Agamemnon enlists the help of Achilles, a rogue fighter who is the best warrior in all of Greece. Though Achilles has no interest in politics and he despises Agamemnon, he is obsessed with fame and having his name remembered through the ages. Because of this he agrees to help attack Troy. But is he willing to pay the price for his fame?

Troy is rated R for graphic violence and some sexuality/nudity.

The Movie:
I’m not terribly familiar with the Iliad or this particular period of history, so I can’t comment on how close the film is to them. I know the key points of the tale were covered, though. You have the Trojan Horse, the “Achilles heel” scene, the “face that launched a thousand ships,” etc. However, some people I saw it with were upset that the movie condensed a 10-year war into a two-week time period, so they obviously weren’t impressed. But I believe this movie will encourage people to go back and read more about the Trojan War and the people involved, so that makes it a good thing. But even if you’re not familiar with ancient Greek history, the film does a pretty good job bringing you up to speed quickly. And going into the film unfamiliar with the details may be an advantage. At least then you have some surprises and you don’t necessarily know who lives and dies. That makes it a bit more enjoyable.

The main thing I was interested in seeing in Troy were the battles. On that front it delivered well. If you liked the fights in Gladiator or The Lord of the Rings, I think you’ll enjoy the battles in Troy. The only things they lack are oliphaunts. The battles are appropriately epic in scale with sweeping shots of battlefields, thousands of warriors, hundreds of ships, and carnage on a grand scale. But director Wolfgang Petersen also treats us to small battles where the people fight one-on-one. The opening scene with Achilles has him fighting a giant of a man one-on-one in a stunning battle. This continues on through the movie and climaxes with another one-on-one battle between Hector and Achilles. The scene has a tremendous buildup and leaves you holding your breath as it unfolds. That particular swordfight is one of the best I’ve seen in the movies for quite some time.

The cast of Troy is filled with some of your favorite actors and they all have significant screen time at one point or another. First and foremost is Brad Pitt. This is definitely his movie. He handles the action incredibly well and he makes his fight scenes believable. And, as he has proven in the past, he can handle the drama as well. My only problem with him was that every time I saw him on the screen, I didn’t see him as anyone other than Brad Pitt. Maybe it was because he was too much of a pretty boy, but I never totally forgot it was him and believed the character. While I thought he had a good performance in this film, I think they probably should have found an unknown to play Achilles.

The second most notable actor in the movie is Eric Bana as Hector. Since he’s one of the few genuinely good and sensible characters in the film, he’s the most likable for the audience. Like Pitt, he is believable in his warrior role and he looks particularly cool in his battle with Achilles. Hector is definitely the underdog in that fight, so you really root for him. (If only he’d turn into the Hulk, he’d whip Pitt.) His scenes with his wife, played by Saffron Burrows as Andromache, are equally touching and make his later fights even more poignant. Hollywood heartthrob Orlando Bloom plays his brother, Paris. Since he’s the character that starts the war, he’s also the most despicable. His declarations of love to Helen are initially romantic, but put in perspective after the war, they seem particularly hollow. In the end Paris is an adulterer, a bad leader, and a coward. It’s pretty brave of Bloom to take a role that doesn’t put him in the position of being the hero. Fans of his Legolas character will be happy to see him pick up a bow and arrow again in this film.

The rest of the cast is excellent as well. Brian Cox continues to be a first rate bad guy, this time as Agamemnon. He’s so arrogant and corrupt that you can’t help but boo him. Orlando Bloom’s Lord of the Rings co-star Sean Bean is also good as Odysseus. (Frodo may be in this film, too, as many LOTR stars as there seems to be. Mirko thinks he was invisible.) Then you’ve also got Peter O’Toole as King Priam, Rose Byrne (Star Wars, Episode II) as Pitt’s love interest Briseis, Brendan Gleeson (Gangs of New York) as Menelaus, Julian Glover (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade) as Triopas, and Tyler Mane (X-Men) as Ajax. Chances are you’ll find one of your favorite actors or actresses in this movie.

As you would expect, the costumes are fantastic. I’m not familiar with the armor that they wore at the time, but everything certainly looked authentic. The same goes for the sets. Baja, Mexico also seems like a suitable substitute for ancient Troy. James Horner’s music also provides the appropriately epic sound to the film, though it does occasionally seem similar to the score for Gladiator and Black Hawk Down by Hans Zimmer.

At around 2 hours and 40 minutes long, Troy can be an experience that tests even the toughest of bladders. It didn’t really bother me, but I imagine some viewers will have a problem with the length. I do think there were a number of scenes that could have been shortened or cut altogether to reduce the running time.

I also found that when there wasn’t any action on the screen, Troy’s pacing slowed to a crawl. The dialogue during those moments seemed to be limited to one of four possible topics – how one character loves the other, how they hate war, how Achilles loves fame, or how the gods are playing some role in the conflict. Because these discussions are so narrow in scope, the dramatic scenes start becoming redundant and tedious.

I already mentioned that though Brad Pitt had a strong performance, I found it difficult to get over the fact that he was Brad Pitt. Well, they also showed his butt an amazing number of times. You could make a drinking game out of how many times you see him nekkid. While I know that he’s the major draw for the ladies, it got a bit ridiculous.

Troy is a movie well worth checking out. You’ll want to see it on the big screen to fully appreciate the epic battles. Fans of Brad Pitt and Orlando Bloom should also get a big kick out of this movie.

The Extras:
This DVD is surprisingly light on the bonus features. There’s no commentary, discussion about Homer’s Iliad, or interviews with some of the other notable cast members. Fortunately, what is included is interesting:

“In The Thick of the Battle” (battle sequences) – This 15 minute video discusses the fight choreography for the film. They show them training extras, setting up fight sequences, training Brad Pitt and Eric Bana, and more. It’s impressive to see how they translate a few brief words from the script into epic battles.

“From Ruins to Reality” (historical perspective) – This shows how they designed the sets for the film and picked locations. They discuss how their Troy is a bit bigger and grander than it would have actually been. They also show how they built sets in Malta and Mexico. A hurricane destroying the Mexican set is a big topic of this 15 minute featurette.

“Troy: An Effects Odyssey” – This featurette discusses the visual effects and sound effects from the film. You see how they digitally replicated soldiers, ships, and the cities. Like with Lord of the Rings, you see how they used computer programs to individually control the soldiers. The comparisons between original shots and final shots are impressive.

Gallery of the Gods (3-D tour of Mount Olympus and Gods of Ancient Greece) – This is just a short video featuring all of the Greek gods. It discusses their histories and personalities and shows classical paintings of the characters.

The Bottom Line:
Epic battles are the main draw of Troy, but the excellent cast help keep things interesting.

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