Directed by Wolfgang Petersen.
Written by David Benioff. Based on "The Iliad", by Homer.
Starring Brad Pitt, Eric Bana, Orlando Bloom and Peter O'Toole.
Release Year: 2004
Review Date: 5/16/04
The previews looked solid. We have a
solid cast, swords, a $175 million budget and the director of "Das
Boot." Maybe the best part about this big film is that it is
NOT called "Van
We lined up a solid cast of men to head over
to the multiplex to see the new Brad Pitt killathon "Troy":
Gordon "The Professional" Stokes, li'l bro Garrett, Yac and Keith "Dogshit"
Karem, all fans of bloodshed, hot women and clichés.
Everything was in place. After 19 minutes of commercials and
previews (yes, we verified this since Keith was keeping track
tonight), this damned thing finally started...
...and, it may be the summer's most bland
blockbuster in 2004. "Troy" uses the ideas of "The Iliad" to
give us the power struggle between the power-hungry conqueror
Agamemnon (Brian Cox) and Priam (Peter O'Toole), king of Troy and a
man of peace...until his son Paris (Orlando Bloom) completely blows
that whole peace thing by snatching the wife of Agamemnon's brother.
The wife, Helen (Diane Kruger), becomes the pawn in Agamemnon's
quest to dominate the whole world...but, to become King of the
World, he'll need the services of the world's greatest killer, a
Greek named Achilles (Pitt), to lead his troops into battle.
Battle they do, as the Greeks try valiantly to take the city of Troy
all movie long.
Long, as in 168 minutes long, and even
though that sounds long, trust me, it feels even longer.
Director Wolfgang Petersen, who has never been known for brevity,
bleeds this thing out for so long that the patches of film where
there is no action can be quite painful physically. It doesn't
help that the script translation by David Benioff (he wrote the book
used for "25th
Hour") is only so-so, and because our romantic leads are Bloom
and Kruger, we have to watch Bloom play a character that is achingly
similar to his character in
"Pirates of the Caribbean" and Legolas from the "LOTR" series.
Hammy turns by Cox (using a couple different accents and then
turning on bad guy charm that he used in last year's
"X2") and O'Toole
(he comes out of semi-retirement for this?) make some of the
non-battle scenes watchable, if not entirely unbelievable.
Gordon called it on the Saffron Burrows character; playing the wife
of Troy prince Hector (Eric Bana), every one of her scenes is some
varying state of tremble, and she quickly becomes tiresome as each
shot of her is essentially "I can't believe you're going to fight!
Don't you know we have a baby?"
But, as fair-to-poor as some of those
performances can be, Pitt's work here is fantastic. Of course,
I generally like Pitt in his movies; as the brooding killer here in
"Troy", he is physically up to the task in the battle sequences, but
his energy in his other scenes matches up just as well. Bana
is good here, but he just doesn't seem to have the same wattage that
you would like to have in your lead co-star role; in the inevitable
showdown between Hector and Achilles, you just feel like Pitt would
whoop Bana's ass in real life anyway, and that makes a scene like
this 90% cool, instead of 100% cool.
Throwing out the performances, though, I
came into "Troy" knowing that it was R-rated and wanting R-rated
entertainment. What does this mean?
I wanted bloodshed. Violent, "Braveheart"-style
killing and substance. I mean, we're talking about swords,
spears and shields, for chrissakes.
I wanted sex scenes. You've got
good looking people all over the place, and I don't think I'm
pushing the limits here by saying all of us like to see
attractive people "hangin' out" in a blood-and-guts action film.
Give Daddy somethin' to love!
So, for point number 2, we come up
completely empty. We really don't even get any nudity, save
for some shots of people lying naked on their sides while sleeping.
We do get a few shots of Pitt putting on armor. Otherwise, no
sex scenes. Come on! If this was never considered,
then the studio heads at Warner Brothers ought to all be taken out
back and beaten.
Point number 1 is the biggest problem that
"Troy" has, relegating it to so-so movie, not "I've got to see that
again" greatness. Even though we do get a few spears to the
head or medieval beatdowns courtesy of Ajax ("X-Men"
star Tyler Mane), the action in "Troy" just doesn't feel tough
enough, from the swordfights, to the now-obligatory sky-full of
arrows sequences, to the shots of men running into each other with
their shields. The sad thing about this film is that all of
the action doesn't feel as violent--as a whole--than the last hour
"The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers", a PG-13 film that Peter
Jackson nuanced into a tough, non-bloody war played out to heroic
effect. "Troy" seems to have a lot of fighting, but none of it
is as rousing as anything in "Gladiator", which you will find
yourself constantly comparing this with as you sit and watch.
I found out tonight by reading on "The Internet" that Warner
Brothers had tried to make this a PG-13 without making too many
cuts, hence part of the reason why we are left with softer kills and
generally lower body counts than other films of this ilk.
"Troy" is a tough one to gauge. The
two lead performances and the incredible look of this film are
amazing. Some of the action is great--and, that
Achilles/Hector showdown is the best stuff in the movie--but most of
it feels watered down, not nearly fierce enough for a men in kilts
flick. The script has some bad lines and awkward sequences,
and then has some bad transitioning, too (the idea for the Trojan
Horse is like a childish joke, it's so ridiculous; I don't remember
this being the sequence of events in the Homer poem). The
soundtrack is pretty good...but, I'm convinced I have heard all of
the sung hymns and orchestral pieces in other films, maybe even
other Petersen films. The running time is simply unnecessary;
a more careful editor could have found at least 10 minutes of this
film to shred and throw onto the DVD instead of making me sit
through it here. Very uneven, but still a decent pick for an
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard