Friday, May 14, 2004


TROY: We all know a movie like this is going to be filled with cliches, be reminiscent of BRAVEHEART and GLADIATOR, and last 3 hours. The question is, is there any fun to be had after that fact? First, the bad. I hate flowery scripts, and this has some of those lines, like, "How many battles have we won by the edge of his sword?" that make me cringe every time I hear them. It's not that movies have to be 100% realistic, it's just that I can't imagine people talking this way often. Brad Pitt is a better actor than this, as we've seen from FIGHT CLUB, and he plays warrior Achilles with the same arrogant demeanor throughout (there is a tad of humility to his existence, but he plays every situation as if everyone else is wrong or misguided when they formulate ideas--it's the sort of character trait that you wrestle with in Nicole Kidman in DOGVILLE), with no sign that other emotions preside. Orlando Bloom, as Paris, once again will be able to get by playing his usual reserved, occasional kick-ass self, with line-readings fit for a guy who has just discovered performing in front of others. This guy will undoubtedly be in his 5th film in 4 years to gross over 100 million and possibly 200 million. The movie doesn't really lag until it hits the slow stretch before the big Trojan horse scene.

Now the good: Eric Bana, fresh from the so-called disaster of THE HULK, is amazing as Hector, Paris' brother. He's the guy that owns the movie, and unfortunately he's not a big enough star to play Achilles. I think it would have been interesting to see the roles reversed. Bana grounds the film with great conscience and bravery. Brian Cox is always good, so it's good to see him here playing Greek king Agamemnon, his lust for an empire seething from him at every turn. The action scenes, particularly between Hector and Achilles, are quite good (although usually, it's the one-on-one battles that are exemplary). Peter O'Toole, who plays Priam, Hector and Paris' father who has a tragic weakness in his faith in the gods, is good of course in a rare modern-day role.

Wolfgang Petersen is a professional director, and you'll always get a fairly technically sound job from him, but it's hard to figure out who is behind the camera in his films. He has done diverse films such as DAS BOOT, THE NEVERENDING STORY, IN THE LINE OF FIRE, THE PERFECT STORM, and the tremendously bad AIR FORCE ONE and OUTBREAK. "A Wolfgang Petersen film" really doesn't tell you what you're about to get into, but you know that you're going to watch a movie directed by a guy who has had hits before. Unfortunately, since a couple of those films were pre-fab hits before they were released, how much work did he have to do? I'm sure it's stressful, and of course the damn thing cost 200 million to make, with lots of production stoppages and other hell to put up with, but when you make a period piece with recognizable actors and remind people of other pre-fab epic hits that most people enjoyed, about 50% of your job is done, right? It's going to be a hit no matter what. Luckily, this movie is fun enough and scores, so it will likely get repeat business and good word-of-mouth.


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