Depending on whom you talk to, you’ll receive positive or negative feedback on Troy. Is this a a flick the gods would smile down upon, or spat at? Michelle recaps one of the most anticipated films of the summer.
Trojan prince Paris (Orlando Bloom) and Helen (Diane Kruger) fall in love, but there’s a problem. Helen is married to the big scary and hairy Menelaus (Brenden Gleason). However, Helen goes back to Troy with Paris, and why not (he’s not twice her age, and he doesn’t resemble a bear)? But now Menelaus is beyond upset (because Helen is oh so beautiful and half his age), and he goes and whines to Agamemnon (Brian Cox). Agamemnon, the mac daddy of the Greek armies, decides to launch a major evasion of Troy, and he brings along Achilles (Brad Pitt), the mac daddy of warriors. While Achilles clearly doesn’t like Agamemnon and has no real sense of allegiance, he’s arrogant, and he joins in because he wants his name to be carried down in legend. Big battles erupt, people die, well-toned men and women get it on, and a great nation falls in the end. Love is what started it all. This is the story of Troy.
Chances are you’ll find some entertainment in Troy if you don’t have super high expectations. While many agree it’s an enjoyable film, others might not be satisfied. If you gag at the thought of any changes being made from story to screen, you may end up disappointed. Troy has its share of changes, the most notable being the absence of gods in the film. There’s a brief part establishing Achilles’s big UH OH in decapitating the head of the statue at Apollo’s temple, and a little chit chat here and there about who believes what, but that’s pretty much it. Director Wolfgang Petersen wasn’t into sticking mythological beings into the film. The idea of having Zeus peeping out of a cloud and throwing down CGI thunderbolts didn’t fit his vision. Another thing to note about the film was the time frame. The war in the film, based on Homer’s “The Iliad,” seems to only take a matter of days, maybe a couple of weeks. In the original story, the time period was around ten years. Other changes in the film are those of certain characters. Patroclus, Achilles’s homosexual lover in the story, somehow becomes Achilles’s cousin in the film. Briseis (Rose Byrne), who had no lines whatsoever in the story, is now Achilles’s lover and one of the film’s more significant characters.
I'm sure more than one person probably wondered why the Spartans and Trojans had British accents. The top performance belonged to Eric Bana, who plays Hector in the film. Hector, the man that everyone looks to after his wuss of a little brother Paris smuggles Helen onto their boat, is the hero of the Trojans. Bana was excellent in this role, portraying a man who is obviously well loved by his people but yet has so much weight on his shoulders. Pitt, whom I’ve always thought was a decent actor, impressed me in this film. Achilles is quite the snot, but he has his good qualities. He goes out of his way a few times for Briseis’s sake, branding a soldier who rough handles her and later on searching for her to try and save her as his fellow soldiers go on a burning and killing rampage.
The other cast members put in average to good performances. One disappoint was Diana Kruger. Simply put, she lacked depth and came off dry. Sean Bean (despite his heavy Yorkshire accent) pulled off a memorable performance as Achilles’s compassionate and sensible friend Odysseus, but Peter O’Toole was a bit weak as King Priam. However, the scene in which he talks and pleads with Achilles is one of the best in the film. Orlando Bloom surprised me a bit in Troy. He actually does act somewhat in this one (no, I’m not a Bloom hater, but I don’t think he’s super duper great, sorry), although his scenes with the bow and arrow scream “Legolas has returned!” What a few actors may lack though is made up by the overall interaction with everyone. Pitt and Byrne have some tender scenes together. Even though the original role was tampered with, Byrne is wonderful in this film, her character obviously making an impact on Achilles and bringing out his softer side. Julie Christie, playing Achilles’s mother Thetis, has only one scene, but her performance is quite a touching one. Saffron Burrows, who plays Hector’s wife Andromache, puts in a strong performance as well.
The film takes a while to pick up, and the second half is much better than the first. This is probably due to the battles, which were very well done. From the burning fireballs being launched down the beach to the sound effects of steel hitting steel to countless shots of bodies getting trampled over, the fighting is pretty brutal (although I think there would be a bit more blood going on). Pitt and Bana’s battle in front of Troy is one of the best one-on-one fight scenes I’ve seen in a film. Extremely well choreographed, and you could tell both men put tons of time into training for it. Their movements were beautiful to watch, and Achilles’s running jumps are sweet (and if you think they are a bit too much, remember that Achilles is the mac daddy of fighters). The soundtrack was mediocre; pretty and haunting during some scenes, but at other times the moaning vocals that keep popping up get to be a bit too much.
So does Troy stink? Is it the best film ever? No and no. Granted, it doesn’t end up being this huge epic film, but it’s still a good one. What it lacks in some areas, it makes up in others. While probably not as emotional and heavy as orginally expected to be, it is still enjoyable. Visually, it’s gorgeous. Some might be ok waiting for it to come out at Blockbuster, but for many it wasn’t a waste of money to see in theaters.
Note: During the shooting of Troy, Pitt suffered some hurt. Guess where? His Achilles tendon. “It’s such a bad angle,” he said in Entertainment Magazine when asked about the injury. “Stupid irony.”