A/V Room









Troy (15)

Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: Two

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: 3 Featurettes: In The Thick of the Battle, From Ruins to Reality, Troy: An Effects Odyssey; Theatrical trailer; Easter egg.

IMMORTALITY surely beckons the cast of Troy, for the way in which they have turned Homer’s The Iliad into one of the great cinema epics of our time.

The film boasts one of the biggest budgets in motion picture history, and a cast which combines the finest looks of Hollywood’s young brigade with the grit and guile of some of its greatest screen icons, and subsequently delivers an awe-inspiring spectacle, that has just about everything you could expect from a Summer blockbuster, and more besides.

Crucially, Wolfgang Petersen’s film manages to combine the necessary big screen bravado with an emotional intimacy needed to do Homer’s poem justice, managing to capture the horror and futility of war, while also displaying the honour and greedy obsessions of those fighting it.

And while Troy isn’t without its own Achilles’ heel, in the form of certain artistic liberties and the occasional lacklustre supporting performance, it remains a towering achievement in every sense of the word, rivalling the likes of Ridley Scott’s Gladiator and Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy for sheer old-fashioned endeavour.

The story is the stuff of legend and, for the most part, is neatly recaptured by David (The 25th Hour) Benioff’s script, even if it fails to adhere to the mythology whole-heartedly.

Paris (Orlando Bloom) provokes the fury of Spartan king, Menelaus (Brendan Gleeson), by running away with his young wife, Helen (Diane Kruger), and providing the catalyst for the Trojan war.

Enlisting the help of his war-lord brother, Agamemnon, the King of the Mycenaeans (Brian Cox), Menelaus sets sail for the city of Troy, determined to wreak bloody revenge for the humiliation, but under-estimates the might of the Trojan army, whose walls have never been breached.

The key to victory, however, lies in the form of Achilles (Brad Pitt), believed to be the greatest warrior alive, but who merely fights for his own immortality.

His contempt for Agamemnon threatens to undermine the unity of the Greeks, paving the way for Hector (Eric Bana), the fearless young prince of Troy, to successfully protect his homeland.

But in the battles which ensue, the wrath of Achilles is provoked by an accidental slaying, paving the way for a decisive confrontation and a certain wooden horse…

At two hours and 40 minutes, Troy is the type of film for which the term ‘epic’ was invented. It seldom feels its length, and delivers on just about every level.

Petersen’s film draws out the tragedy without pandering to the mainstream, and is populated by flawed heroes rather than knights in shining armour.

Achilles may be a tortured hero, whose disdain for the arrogance of Agamemnon is justifiable, but he, too, is merciless in the extreme, placing his own immortality above the lives of everyone else, while Hector is guilty of making several rash errors of judgement - not least in his blind devotion to his cowardly brother, Paris.

When the two eventually collide, their encounter makes for one of the great on-screen tussles in movie history - but it is just one of a clutch of memorable moments.

Battles are skilfully orchestrated, combining an unflinching realism with the wow-factor required from this sort of epic, but never to the detriment of the personal conflicts involved. As a result, every one of the principle cast members is given the chance to shine.

But as excellent as the likes of Peter O’Toole and Pitt are, the movie stands or falls, emotionally, on Bana’s portrayal of the honourable Hector, and he rises to the challenge spectacularly, allowing Troy to function on such an intimate level.

As such, the film remains a richly satisfying all-round experience, the type of which harks back to the epics of the David Lean era, while making the most of advances in technology.

It is a handsome movie in every sense of the word, which epitomises all that is great about going to the cinema. For once, there is no need to beware of Greeks (or Hollywood) bearing gifts.

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