Just in time to celebrate Brad and Jen’s split comes the DVD release of Troy, a retelling of Homer’s “the Illiad” with a portion of “The Odyssey” as well as a sprinkling of Virgil’s “The Aeneid” for good measure. This version features big battles, greedy kings, women to die for, and noble and heroic men in skirts and not much else. I, for one, can’t ask for much else in a movie.
Troy begins with noble Prince Hector of Troy(Eric Bana) and his shallow kid brother Prince Paris (Orlando Bloom) sealing a peace treaty with King Menelaus of Sparta (Brendan Gleeson). On their voyage home, Hector discovers his silly sibling has spirited away the King’s wife, Helen (Diane Kruger). Despite being one of the smarter Trojans around, Hector doesn’t toss both of them overboard but heads back home knowing that Menelaus and his brother, King Agamemnon (Brian Cox) will soon follow, bringing the formidable armies of Greece with them.
The baddest badass warlord of Greece, Achilles (Brad Pitt), tags along at the behest of King Odysseus even though Achilles and Agamemnon aren't bestest of buddies. He and his Myrmidons ensure an initial victory for the Greek forces upon the beaches of Troy, but greedy Agamemnon takes a prisoner from Achilles, the once priestess of Apollo (and cousin to Hector and Paris ) Briseis (Rose Byrne). Achilles, in a snit, sits himself and his team out of the initial battle at Troy’s gates and the Greeks suffer a bad defeat. Will Achilles get Briseis back? Will Menelaus get Helen back? Will Agamemnon convince Achilles to rejoin the Greek troops to defeat Troy? Will the Trojans get wise and set the Trojan horse on fire instead of dragging it back into their city?
I think Troy is a fine movie, right in the vein of such epic films as The 10 Commandments, Ben Hur, and especially Spartacus, all movies that I love (so I may be prejudiced). I initially watched Troy in a theater, and I recall not liking it as much as I thought I would. My opinion changed when I viewed the DVD, perhaps because my butt doesn’t go numb when I’m sitting on my couch instead of the average movie theater seat for 2 hours and 40 minutes.
If I have any gripes with the movie, it would be the length of the film. I don’t mind long movies but sometimes the scenes between battles dragged. I love everything else about the movie, especially the casting choices. Brad Pitt does an excellent job as the vain, temperamental, deadliest fighter in the Aegean. While I’m not a particularly big fan of his, I have to salute him for all of the fine weight training he displayed during his seminude scenes. The same goes for Eric Bana (who I am a fan of) - besides fine pectorals he also brings the necessary weight to the role of the proud, serious, family man Prince Hector, the flip side to Achilles. Orlando Bloom is perfect as the silly boy who watches his country as it's destroyed because he couldn’t keep it in his pants-er, under his skirt. The more veteran actors; Peter O’Toole (Priam, Hector and Paris’ dad and king of Troy), Brendan Gleeson, Sean Bean, and especially the scene chewing Brian Cox portray their characters with the wide but not-too-hammy style this epic soap opera needs.
I am disappointed with the DVD release for Troy. The sound is fine – I could hear the dialog clearly even in the big battle scenes and through James Horner’s unremarkable score. The picture is decent too, and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Wolfgang Petersen and the cinematographers for not using Shaky-Cam during the battle scenes. Although some shots were hand-held, I could follow the action just fine despite some choppy editing (whether it was laziness or under pressure by the MPAA isn’t known).
What is disappointing are the extras, or lack thereof despite Troy being a 2-disk release. This kind of epic filmmaking begs for commentary of some sort. Even with this being the era of CGI, getting all the sets, extras and scenes together must be a logistical nightmare and I’m always fascinated with the stories behind these productions. I was a little mollified with the obligatory making-of featurettes: one on the battles, one on the set design, and one on the effects.
The extras do one thing interesting. I’m always grousing because DVDs fail to incorporate material outside of (but related to) the movie production that can enrich the movie watcher’s experience. For instance, I thought the release of Ed Wood could have included a documentary on the real Ed Wood. Troy includes a piece on the Greek gods, which I found interesting although a little pointless because the script had little mention of the gods. Still, it was a nice effort in the right direction.
As I stated earlier, I like Troy more than most people because I have a weakness for epic costume dramas (I even liked Cleopatra to an extent) and I thought this was a well-acted addition to this genre. I know many people groused because the screenwriter omitted the gods but personally, I am grateful for that because this movie would have been more like a grander companion piece to Clash of the Titans instead of a grand scale tragedy in the vein of Spartacus (another good movie with hot men in short skirts). If you liked the movies I listed in comparison and don’t mind the screenplay’s tinkering with the Classics, give this movie a shot. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.