written by Homer and David Benioff

directed by Wolfgang Petersen

starring, wow, Brad Pitt, Eric Bana, Orlando Bloom, Sean Bean, Brian Cox and Peter O'Toole


review by Stephen Notley

Troy is not good. I didn't really know what to expect beyond a hot chick named Helen, a big wood horse, and Achilles gettin' it in the heel. What I got was a star-studded clunkball with no sense of humor but can't be taken seriously with all the deluded sense of self-importance of a bad high school play. Yow.

The original book The Iliad was written 3000-odd years ago in an era when the line between history and myth was… well, there wasn't one. Achilles' mother is a goddess, f'rexample, and the sequel The Odyssey features a hero going up against cyclopes and sirens. But the Troy-makers didn't want to do a fantasy movie. Oh, no, they wanted to be realistic, to sideline the magical stuff and tell the story as though it was *history*. Okay, cool. It worked for Lord of the Rings. Which would be fine except, wow, do people is this movie ever have terrible reasons for doing things. There's a huge disconnect between the epicness and heroicness the movie thinks it's about and what it's actually depicting.

Let's start with Orlando Bloom as Paris, the naïve whiny-behind-the-ears Trojan prince who kicks off the whole affair by boning and then stealing Helen, the wife of the Spartan General with whom he and his brother Hector have just signed a peace deal. That's it for the peace deal, and for what? We're told they're in love and I suppose because of Orlando's cooing whatever-it-is accent we're supposed to believe it and not notice that the pair of them come off as a couple of irresponsible spoiled American kids. Orlando is a twit and the chick they got to play Helen is a vacuous spaceball belatedly realizing her whorish selfishness has doomed thousands of people but still quickly letting herself get talked out of giving herself up.

On the Greek side we've got Brad Pitt as Achilles, the super-warrior. His problem is he thinks the Greek King Agamemnon is a jerk, which he's right to do because Agamemnon is played by noted screen asshole Brian Cox, jowly bad guy of X2, Rob Roy, Manhunter, The Bourne Identity, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Achilles doesn't really want to fight in this stupid war but unfortunately somebody told him his name would live forever if he fought in this battle so he comes along and sits around sulkily dissing the king and occasionally killing people -- a lot like Russell Crowe's Maximus in Gladiator, come to think of it. Oh, and he falls in love.

In between the two we have Hulk's Eric Bana as Hector, the only half decent guy of the bunch of them. Hector's big mistake is taking his whiny brother's yap about love seriously rather than smacking him and turning the ship around, and from then on he's stuck having to deal with everybody's crap for the rest of the movie. Bana carries what he can of this movie (I just wish he'd brought or had been allowed to bring a little of that pissed-off reserve to Bruce Banner).

Contributing to the emotional misfiring of Troy is James Horner's blaringly inappropriate score. He did great work in Apollo 13 and, yes, Titanic, but here he's yanking emotional strings that don't exist. Yay! Paris and Hector's triumphant return! Except, uh, aren't they bringing news of an upcoming devastating war? The triumph is where, exactly? Or, Yay! The Greek ships are landing! Which is… good, why, exactly?

We do get a big war, a triumph for the Massive software developed for Lord of the Rings that allows the realistic depiction of crowds of tens of thousands of people, something we are now gonna see a lot of in movies. So yep, huge armies march on Troy, retreat from Troy, assemble in front of Troy, all from the intense emotional viewpoint of a guy moving 8000 guys around on a screen with a mouse.

In Troy's defense, there is some okay spear-on-spear action. They don't quite go Hong King style on the Hero-level fighting, but Hector and Achilles fight in a sweaty kind of superrealistic way that packs punch. Hector also comes up with a couple of good anti-Greek strategies that answered my hope that this movie could somehow feature explosions. Thank God Sean Bean is in there occasionally as Odysseus warming up in Troy before girding to tackle cyclopes in The Odyssey.  And Peter O'Toole is in the movie too, a welcome surprise later in the movie as we fumble around for someone we can actually like and care about. But by the time we get to the wooden horse we're thinking "Jesus, who thought this up?" and since Bana's already out of the picture we're pretty much just marking time waiting to see some heel mutilation so we can go home.

We're told that this was a battle of legend and immortality, and so it was, but with Troy we're left with nothing more than shrugging frustration at what a senseless, retarded waste of human life it all was. Close to home in a way, but do you really wanna watch a movie about it?

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