Directed by Wolfgang Petersen
A beautifully visual film, Troy splashes the big screen with outstanding production design, costumes, fight choreography, and photography – all of the visual elements are perfectly in place. The special effects that I heard so much about didn’t seem at all intrusive – any obvious hint of high-tech would have diminished the look and feel of a film set 3000 years ago.
With notable exceptions, I loved the cast: Brian Cox’s wickedly ambitious Greek king Agamemnon; Brendan Gleeson as the jealous Greek king spurned by Helen; Eric Bana as the Trojan warrior Hector; and Saffron Burrows as Andromache, Hector’s wife. I had a problem with the characters of Helen (the lovely Diane Kruger) and Paris (Orlando Bloom). They started the war!! – by Helen abandoning her husband for Paris. In the film those two are portrayed as sympathetic characters (although Paris is a bit of a wimp) – does that make any sense? The film makes no attempt to address that issue.
That gets me to Brad Pitt’s Achilles. A great physical performance, it reminded me of his wacky boxer character in Snatch (2000) . In that British production he ducked, weaved, and flailed his fists with a fighting style similar to that of his Achilles -- except that Achilles is played straight-up. When Achilles wasn’t talking he was impressive – the problem wasn’t so much his ability to speak his part as the idea that this legendary soldier from ancient times shouldn’t sound like an all-American guy. For that matter, wouldn’t it be fun to see this film with realistic dialog in ancient Greek (with subtitles) – like what Mel Gibson did with The Passion of the Christ? I guess it would turn off most of the teen audience and therefore be a deal-killer for a $200 million movie.
My biggest disappointment is that Troy is told as a straight-up historical action/adventure story. I remember studying The Iliad -- the magical environment of the pagan gods as puppet masters of kings and warriors was the most impressive part. Why they left that out of the film I have no idea. You wouldn’t need a CG Zeus reaching down onto the battlefield but I think it would be fun to see the effects of the gods’ will on the action on earth -- put in some of the magic of Homer’s poem.
For all its problems, Troy is a grand film that I found sufficiently entertaining that it didn’t feel too long at over 160 minutes. Check it out on the big screen.
Images are copyright Warner Brothers.
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