alibi online
Free Will AstrologyAlibi's Personals



 
 V.13 No.21 | May 20 - 26, 2004 

Film Review

Troy

Epic action flick looks great, feels too analytical

War! What is it good for? Entertainment value.
War! What is it good for? Entertainment value.

Troy

Directed by Wolfgang Petersen

Way back in the day, heroes didn't need no stinkin' motivations. They were heroes. Pure and simple. They killed enemies, knocked over city walls and hunted down magical sheepskins if the legend so required. But in today's “let's all share our feelings with Dr. Phil” environment, storytellers can't resist the urge to examine everyone's inner child. Case in point: The overlong, overanalytical Troy.

Based on the epic poem The Iliad by Greek historian Homer, Troy is two parts Cliff's Notes, one part Hollywood beefcake and one part WrestleMania. Which isn't the world's worst formula for a summer blockbuster. If only the film had resisted the urge to contemporize, to contextualize and to psychoanalyze its entire cast of characters.

Surely you remember the basic story from lit class: Three thousand years ago (give or take a century), Paris, the prince of Troy, kidnaps the luscious Helen of Sparta and spirits her across the Mediterranean to his well-walled hometown. Angry king Agamemnon sends a thousand ships, led by head ass-kicker Achilles, to get her back. Everybody fights and there's a big wooden horse in the end.

“Oh, Helen. You’re beautiful. You’re enchanting. Your lips are softer than Johnny Depp’s ...”
“Oh, Helen. You’re beautiful. You’re enchanting. Your lips are softer than Johnny Depp’s ...”

In the tale's current Hollywood iteration, written by David Benioff (The 25th Hour) and directed by Wolfgang Petersen (Air Force One), Agamemnon (Brian Cox, chewing scenery like Chicklets) is an avaricious land-grabber, eager to use Helen's kidnapping as an excuse to invade Troy. Paris (Lord of the Rings' hottie Orlando Bloom) is a romantic wuss who puts a little nookie (babelicious but blank German model Diane Kruger) ahead of his kingdom's welfare. Achilles (Brad Pitt, champing at the bit to show off his newly buff bod) is an angst-ridden warrior who hates his uncaring king, but loves the brotherhood of his fellow soldiers. Then, of course, there's Hector (Eric Bana, formerly of The Hulk), a conflicted prince of Troy torn by loyalties to his country and love for his reckless younger brother. Brooding outweighs fighting by a factor of at least three to one here.

Introspection is not a trait typically demonstrated by heroes of Greek drama. The monumentally clever, stupid, brave things they do simply don't stand up to logic or psychology. It's like applying principals of physics to the powers of Superman. You're wasting your time. Considering this story has stuck around for at least three millennia, maybe there's a reason not to tinker with the formula.

On the other hand, Troy does look great, with splashy costumes and impressive setpieces aplenty. This is what grossly overbloated Hollywood budgets were built for. When it boils down to the one-on-one battles, Troy roars to life. With, for example, the colossal clash between Achilles and Hector, Troy captures the look and feel of an epic myth. Unfortunately, the film keeps trying to humanize its heroes. Whenever people open their mouths, everything grinds to a halt quicker than a one-wheeled chariot. That other recent historical epic, Gladiator, succeeded because it kept things simple. Joaquin Phoenix: bad guy. Russell Crow: good guy looking for revenge. Troy muddies the water with a dozen major characters, too many subplots and a whole lot of standing around talking. The film is just under three hours in length, but sitting in the theater you'd swear it was a mere 163 minutes.

The cast certainly looks good with their short skirts and oiled abs. But nobody seems even slightly Mediterranean. There's never a moment in which hunky Brad Pitt could be mistaken for anything other than hunky Brad Pitt. He clips his “r”s in a wan attempt to sound a little like his British/Scottish/Australian compatriots. But I just didn't buy him as the most war-weary warrior in the whole of ancient Greece. Which is kind of a shame. When he's got a sword in his hand, Pitt is magnificent--a balletic blur of muscle and movement. Physically, he's astounding. But when Peter O'Toole shows up, proving he's still alive and gifting the film with its one moment of truly powerhouse acting, it only points up the flaws in Pitt's casting.

By reducing the legendary battle of Troy to a routine, special-effects-filled action movie and by humanizing the personalities involved, the filmmakers have missed out on the mythic action, the oversized emotions and the towering tragedies that make up a heroic legend. If you're buying a ticket for the beefcake or the bloodletting, you'll get your money's worth. If you're looking for a classic, go to the library.


Tomorrow's Events

A Christmas Story (1983) at KiMo Theatre

Reel World

Classic film about 9-year-old Ralphie and what he wants for Christmas: a BB gun.

Friday Filmmakers Coffee at Jean Cocteau Cinema

Saturday

Dark Matters presents: Horror Bites! at Guild Cinema

More Recommented Events ››
Join our mailing list for exclusive info, the week's events and free stuff!
 

  • Select sidebar boxes to add below. You can also click and drag to rearrange the boxes; close using the little X icons on each box. To re-add a box you closed, return to this menu.
  • Because you are not logged in, any changes you make to these boxes will vanish as soon as you click to another page. If you log in, the boxes will stick.
  • alibi.com
  • Web Exclusives
  • Recent Rocksquawk Discussions
  • Recent Classifieds
  • Most Active Users
  • Most Active Stories
  • Calendar Comments
  • Albuquerque
  • Duke City Fix
  • Albuquerque Beer Scene
  • What's Wrong With This Picture?
  • Reddit Albuquerque
  • ABQ Journal Metro
  • ABQrising
  • ABQ Journal Latest News
  • Del.icio.us Albuquerque
  • NM and the West
  • New Mexico FBIHOP
  • Democracy for New Mexico
  • Only in New Mexico
  • Mario Burgos
  • Democracy for New Mexico
  • High Country News
  • El Grito
  • NM Politics with Joe Monahan
  • Stephen W. Terrell's Web Log
  • The Net Is Vast and Infinite
  • Slashdot
  • Freedom to Tinker
  • Is there a feed that should be on this list? Tell us about it.
Dj Ntox "In The Mix"
Dj Ntox "In The Mix"12.27.2014