Film review: Troy


I walked out of the cinema somewhat ambivalent toward this Hollywood ancient history epic—my girlfriend thought it was laughable, but I must admit I was expecting worse and there were some sequences, such as the one-on-one battle between Achilles (Brad Pitt) and Hector (Eric Bana), that I really enjoyed.

For once the computer effects don’t completely overwhelm the story, but Brad Pitt might be computer-generated for all the depth he brings to the role of Achilles. There’s never anything going on behind that confused expression and perpetually troubled pout, and his weakness is not helped by a director who can’t resist zooming in on his star at every opportunity. A great shame, as complexity could have been brought to the conflicted Achilles by a better actor. Seeing an old man like Peter O’Toole (King Priam) blow all the newbies away in every scene in which he appears makes you despair for the future of the film industry. Is this all we have to take up the mantle when the oldies have gone— Brad Pitt and Eric Bana? Ye gods!

The city of Troy is spectacularly realised—how many thousands of beautiful ancient cities have burnt to the ground or crumbled to ruins over the ages, I wonder— and the battle scenes visceral and real enough to make you go “oof” in your seat. And I thought they condensed a complex story to film length quite well. But a mix of lame script and beefcake acting drags the film down from the Olympian heights to which aspires.

2 and a half breastplates out of 5.

The Day After Tomorrow

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Anonymous
    May 25, 2004 @ 18:22:18

    Let me not be entirely scathing—Troy has much to recommend it as a work of comedy. Or as a guilty but ill-advised Saturday night hire from Video Ezy.
    Troy is visually magnificent, but this does not compensate for the banal script. In fairness, it must be said that Brad & co are truly given very little with which to work.
    In total, you may find possibly three of the characters engaging. But that’s only if you include in your calculations the Trojan horse itself.
    Troy displays all the depth of a Grecian urn and the subtlety of a George W Bush election speech.
    But yes, the visual trickery is stupendous. Helen is more fetching than your average ‘American Idol’ finalist. And Brad is more buffed than your neighbour’s 1972 Holden Monaro.
    One and a half virgin sacrifices to Apollo out of a possible five.

  2. anaglyph
    Jul 22, 2004 @ 21:39:49

    Well I saw it this afternoon, and I’ve gotta say Pete, I think you must have been on crack. This would have to be one of the most monumentally daft films to have come out of Hollywood in recent times. And that’s saying something. I can’t even think of one redeeming thing to say about it. The script was lame, the dialogue was laughable, the sense of geography was appalling (I mean, Agamemnon and co approach Troy from the Aegean in the west but later, we see the sun RISING over the same sea… er… guys…), the fight scenes were dull (doesn’t anybody think to look at how Peter Jackson managed to make the dozens of fight scenes in LOTR interesting), the performances were so hammy I laughed out loud at least half a dozen times. I could go on.

    In fact, I will. Why not, words are cheap and I’m amusing myself.

    The film is long. It feels longer than the actual Trojan war was MEANT to be (not a couple of weeks like in the film… but I guess that’s just being picky). But the film is LONG. And dull. When Briseis says to Achilles at one point “When does it end”, and he answers “It never ends.” I had a brief horrific thought that he might be talking about the film.

    And inside the walls of Troy, on several occasions, did I glimpse… llamas? Llamas? South American llamas? In Greece? Oh boy, sack that art director somebody.

    Then there was the music. My goodness. I know that they sacked Gabriel Yared and James Horner came on with only four weeks to deliver the goods, but I don’t care how bad the studio thought Yared’s score was it HAD to be better than this bombastic and turgid rubbish. I started thinking that they took Yared’s score off the film because it showed up the poor quality of everything else.

    As for Helen, you can’t convince me that a thousand ships got launched for that insipid bimbo. I mean, for god’s sake, it’s the whole hinge of the film and I couldn’t get the thought out of my head that she was worried that if Troy fell her manicure might get scuffed. When Paris was yakking on about how they could get some horses and ride away and he could catch rabbits for them, I could almost hear her brain ticking over “Rabbits? I didn’t come halfway across the country to live in a tent and eat rabbits!”

    I’d better stop now. I don’t even want to think about the ‘Based on Homer’s Iliad’ credit card. Or the rearranging of history. Hector killed Ajax? And Menelaus? Really? Briseis killed Agamemnon? Right.

    A very sad film, which has knocked Van Helsing off the top of my Worst Films of 2004 list.

  3. UniversalHead
    Jul 23, 2004 @ 09:09:01

    You know when you get that feeling that you started a little high with your rating system, and now it’s too late, there’s so much room to go down but so little to go up …?

    OK, OK, it’s pretty crap, but I found myself entertained at times. The fight scenes – the one on ones at least – felt real, and a bit of dust was actually kicked up by real people. O’Toole entertainingly “chewed the tent flaps” as one reviewer put it.

    And surely nothing beats the monumental crap that was Van Helsing. I mean, from memory, at least Troy followed the laws of physics.

    Orlando, as a clueless and annoying actor, was well cast as the clueless and annoying Paris. He really was the stupid younger brother you wanted to cuff ’round the head. Bana and Pitt and that cardboard woman who played Helen were all crap, sure, can’t argue with you there. Story, mangling – well, did you really expect an accurate rendition of the Iliad from Hollywood?

    As for llamas … oh christ, I missed them. I might, on sober reflection, modify my rating to one and a half serious stares at the horizon out of five.