Producers: Wolfgang Petersen, Diana Rathbun, Colin Wilson
Written by: David Benioff
Cast: Brad Pitt, Orlando Bloom, Eric Bana, Brendan Gleeson,
Brian Cox, Saffron Burrows, Diane Kruger, Julie Christie, Garrett
Hedlund, Tyler Mane, Sean Bean, Peter O’Toole
Early out of the starting gate in time for the
summer season block-buster fare is Troy,the much anticipated film starring Brad Pitt
and Orlando Bloom. In myth, and now on the
big screen as well, Troy was the long-standing rival
of its Aegean neighbor, the nearby and newly organized
city-states of Greece. Ruled by Agamemnon (Cox),
Greece was at the height of its power in part because
Achilles (Pitt), its greatest warrior, was
at its ready disposal. But the tenuous peace between
these two countries is breached when Prince Paris
(Bloom) steals away the Mrs. Helen, Queen
of Sparta, (Kruger) thus giving the jilted
King Menelaus (Gleeson), his brother Agamemnon,
and an assortment of trusty fighters, including
Ajax (Mane) and Odysseus (Bean) an
excuse to attack the well-fortified city of Troy.
Any bad habits on the part of a reviewer to spoil
the ending of a film can surely be forgiven this
time around. Most people have at the least a vague
recollection of the ancient Greek writer Homer
and his epic story of the Trojan War, and as filmgoers
we’re all going to have to get used to conventional
material dominating the screens. As has been pointed
out previously by Hollywood insiders, the trend
now is to rely more heavily than ever before on
screenplays based on best-selling books, comics,
old TV shows, updated remakes of classics…
and now add classic Greek literature to that list.
With film production costs and actors’ salaries
soaring to all-time highs, the pressure to produce
a box office hit that can recoup its initial exorbitant
investment will be greater and greater. So we can
expect to see safe, reliable material that seems
a surer bet than an original, untested idea. Creativity
suffers. That’s certainly true of Troy.
Even if one cannot remember the specifics of who
dies when and how, most people know Troy falls to
the Greeks when the hollow wooden horse filled with
Greek soldiers is naively wheeled into the city.
Most people know the over-confident Achilles is
killed by taking a shot in the heel, of all places.
Yes, the greatest flaw of Troy is its predictability.
And particularly after sitting through three years
of Lord Of The Rings-style fighting with
battle-clad warriors wielding primitive swords,
clubs, and shields, the threshold for this fighting-action
genre is starting to wear thin.
Still, Troy does have a few things working
in its favor. Some of the performances are top notch.
Who better to bring a touch of stoic nobility to
the part of good King Priam than an old school British
actor like Peter O’Toole? Of course,
the real attraction here is intended to be Orlando
Bloom, fresh from the successes of Lord Of The
Ringsand Pirates Of The Caribbean,and Brad Pitt, who requires no introduction.
It goes without saying that Pitt is quite the spectacle
here. Tanned, blond, and muscular, playing a mortal
with god-like skills comes naturally for this larger-than-life
sex symbol celebrity. Yet considering the dialogue
is mostly grunting and casting off one-liners about,
war, glory and having one’s name remembered
for all of posterity, no Academy-nominated performances
are going on here. Unfortunately Bloom’s part
is a little disappointing, because this time out
he’s no hero, but an unlikable prince who
isn’t sexy. We can’t root for him to
succeed because stealing another man’s wife
and spiriting her away to Troy is cowardly. And
if you’re going to take such bold steps there
ought to be a red-hot romance to convince us Helen
is worth the trouble, but no such sparks fly. Bloom’s
Paris is a quivering wimp and Helen is a vacillating
whiner, teary-eyed and regretful of her actions
yet incapable of correcting her mistakes.
On-screen love scenes can sometimes bog down a
picture but they’re totally lacking in Troy.
If you’re going spark a war that will kill
tens of thousands of men, the sex better be worth
it, but director Wolfgang Petersen, known
best for taut-paced thrillers heavy on the action,
(Air Force One, Das Boot) cuts out the essential
romance. So the supposedly momentous “kidnapping”
that ultimately leads Troy and Greece on the path
to war lacks the “so what” factor. Besides,
Helen’s Greek husband, Prince Menelaus is
a loud, overbearing slob who tosses back goblets
of wine and wipes his mouth with the back of his
hand. The decision to leave him for a younger, well-mannered
prince is a no-brainer. And what of that face that
“launched a thousand ships”? If you
like blondes, Helen, played by German ballet dancer
and high-fashion model Diane Kruger, fits the bill.
She’s easy on the eye and has a minor speaking
role, which is all the part really requires.
But forget for a moment about Achilles, Helen,
and Paris. Where Troy really shines is in
the lesser-hyped performances of Sean Bean and Eric
Bana. Bean plays the easy-going Odysseus, loyal
to his king and willing to fight against Troy, but
sympathetic to follies of war, as expressed by the
temperamental ranting of his friend Achilles. Bana’s
performance as Prince Hector, the wiser older brother
of Paris, outshines them all. This former stand-up
comic brings surprising depth, gentleness, and brimming
sexuality to the ill-fated Prince Hector. The real
sex symbols in Troy aren’t Pitt and
Bloom but Bean and Bana. Together these two performances
make Troy nominally recommended for an afternoon
trip to the theater.
Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.
Itís worth a full-price ticket.
Itís worth a matinee ticket.
Wait for video rental.
Check out the video from the library, if you must.
While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...