"Troy" is a thrilling ride, one of the year's best and most underrated action movies.8/10
"Troy" (2004) Dir. Wolfgang Petersen I, like so many others, was expecting A LOT out of "Troy" when I headed along to opening night and sat in the dark cinema, watching the action unfold. Initially, I didn't think as much of the movie as I now do. I gave it a 7/10 on first viewing, but I knew I had to see it again, it is just one of those films that demands multiple viewings.
So I saw it again for History class (since it's not historically accurate, perhaps that wasn't the best idea). And I bought the DVD.
And look what happened.
I strongly suggest to anyone who was looking forward to "Troy" in cinemas to rent or buy the DVD and give it another chance in your home. It is truly a much richer, perhaps even exciting experience, as your expectations have been lowered, and often this makes a movie-watching experience better.
Anyone who is not tired of the two-huge-armies-face-off battles we've been seeing in "The Lord of the Rings" films and now many other films following in that trilogy's footsteps will sure love the battles in "Troy". "Troy" takes it's battle sequences very seriously and while they have an epic grandeur look about them, at the heart of the battle - men are dying, men are killing other men. It's not all about kicking ass in this film. The battle sequences are a little more graphic than you might expect, and they are certainly brutal.
Brad Pitt, looking absolutely incredible here (the months of training sure paid off), shoulders the movie with much confidence and adds layers to his arrogant, self-centred Achilles. It's refreshing that Pitt, though technically the central hero of the piece, plays the character in a less likable way than you might expect. Achilles is unpredictable and dangerous, he was "born to end lives". As the greatest warrior in history, he is most definitely convincing.
Eric Bana and Orlando Bloom play more emotional heroes, and while Bana manages to give Hector an awesome kick-ass edge, strong nobility and adds many dimensions to his heroic part, Bloom doesn't quite handle the job as well. I do not dismiss Bloom's part in the film to be the "pussy" as so many have put it, but in emotional scenes, Bloom simply falls flat. His lines ("I'll hunt deer and rabbit, we can live off the land!") are often laughable due to bad delivery. It is more likely Bloom was put in this part for his looks rather than his talent, which is still in question by yours truly. I did like, though, that Bloom had a more realistic touch, the scene in which he faces Menelaus and fails to defeat him, running back to his brother, is nerve-wracking and powerful, not all men were great butt-kicking heroes, even back then, so it's good to see that put into the film, even if he does play the more "pussy" role.
One of my main complaints about the film the first time around was the unnecessary relationship between Briseis and Achilles. With more viewings, I have come to appreciate this subplot a lot more. As Achilles puts it, she gave him peace in a time of violence and war. Achilles is a character so often covered in other men's blood, constantly killing and fighting, that Briseis allows for Pitt to show the more sensitive side is actually useful to the character's development. Their final scene together is very emotional and the actors have genuine chemistry.
Wolfgang Petersen was criticised for being too much of a claustrophobic director to take on one of the biggest films ever made, but he handles the epic, large scale of the film nicely, if perhaps maybe not using as many swooping, stunning shots as he could. I certainly would've liked to have seen more of the set of Troy exposed. In the inevitable fire-fuelled finale it is showcased brilliantly, but more of these kinds of sequences would've been useful for Petersen to shut his critics up. He does a good job with the film, rooting the battles in genuine emotion and intelligence, and giving it a distinctive, memorable atmosphere and artistic look.
Perhaps as a historical piece, "Troy" isn't the film you're looking for. But for sheer entertainment value, it is one of the best films of 2004. Again, I urge anyone who was disappointed by the film to rent/buy it on DVD and give it another spin, it's not a decision you'll regret, I know I didn't.