Rated R for graphic violence and some sexuality/nudity.
Directed By: Wolfgang Peterson
Screenplay By: David Benioff
Based On The Novel “The Iliad” By: Homer
Staring: Brad Pitt, Eric Bana, Orlando Bloom, Brian Cox, Diane Kruger, Brenden Gleeson, Sean Bean, Garrett Hedlund, Julie Christie, Peter O’Toole, Rose Byrne, and Saffron Burrows
Everything is more beautiful because we’re doomed. -Achilles
Wolfgang Peterson took on a massive task when accepting the request to direct Troy in a time where movies like Gladiator and Lord Of The Rings were creating standards in historical accuracies and amazing special effects battles. In the end Troy isn’t as successful in it’s ability to really mimic the ancient city of Troy in a fashion that really brings it to life, nor are the battle scenes and special effects used as remarkably as Lord Of The Rings, but five minutes into the story I knew better than to take it as seriously as one or the other either. The tone of the film is obviously of a serious nature, but it also gives itself enough allowance to be a film that was a little more superficial. The character’s are depicted very well and are to be taken menacingly, but the nature of the story, the screenplay itself, and many of the lines exploit this as more of a fun action adventure story that happens to be based off an excellent piece of literature rather than a film than really has anything new or different to say and I’m okay with that.
A Prince Of Troy falls in love with the Queen of Sparta, Helen. Together the lovers leave Sparta and return to Troy along with a new enemy that not only desires to take Helen back, but sack the city as well. On each side are warriors of unimaginable quality. The legendary Achilles and his Mermidon fight for Greece and the repugnant King Agamemnon, alongside with his friend Odysseus. Troy is defended by the great warrior Prince Hector and it’s honorable King Priam. It’s a battle of magnificent proportions and while history already tells how it ends, it’s a wild ride of how they get there.
The character’s are ones we all know and are played by a brilliantly casted group of actors. Each really interpreted their character and fleshed them out in a way that gave them all a hardened more realistic feel than I had experienced before. The story had moments of great weakness behind it, and some of the dialogue along with, but because of the excellent choices in actors, and perhaps the direction Wolfgang sent them in, it gave the rest of the way the gargantuan tale was told more validity.
Complaints are often made about movies based on history and about the inaccuracies involved, and granted Troy certainly strayed away from the “known” truth at times to indulge it’s fictionalized tale, but the story was about entertainment not history. The story stayed very close to Homer’s edition of the Iliad and what it created on it’s own was compelling in it’s own right. I felt it had enough historical accuracy to be intriguing and enough fiction to be fun.
Brad Pitt is possibly my favorite actor, but when advertised as the mighty Achilles, the most powerful of all warriors of all time, he was not the actor I initially envisioned for such a role. Complex, dramatic or odd character’s, even a comedic role seemed more fitting than an action hero of such notoriety and in a time period no less. My concerns were hushed from the first scene he was in. Though the film works around an ensemble cast it is the character of Achilles that boasts the major thrust of the story forward. His simple, yet poignant commentary, on a time that was merely a nightmare for even the victorious in the brutal war between the Greeks and Trojans. I now can’t imagine another actor that could sustain the complexity of Achilles, the physical prowess he generated, and the reflectiveness of his character in a battle that he felt was orchestrated simply for himself. His major adversary Hector, played by a much more modest Eric Bana was a fantastic contrast to Pitt’s arrogance as Achilles. Hector was a man’s man who fought for his home and country and was heroic in his love for it, not the battle or glory. Bana balanced those qualities in a way that made Hector not only loved, but feared.
With a supporting cast of stars including a lovely performance by Peter O’Toole playing Priam, King Of Troy, who seemed to own the screen each time he was on it with his subtle and intense portrayal. He is a master of the big screen doing what he does best. Orlando Bloom and Sean Bean were excellent additions and Rose Byrne as Berseis was a particularly captivating performance. While the film is without any doubt a war movie focused on battle and special effects, the reason it was successful was greatly due to the brilliant casting that made these ancient character’s become alive and three dimensional.
Troy is not Oscar quality nor does it pretend to be. It’s better than most movies in it’s genre and offers an epic adventure of breath taking battles, romance, betrayal, and the hunger for power. The imminent price each character pays for their fortunes are not comparable to pain and sorrow each of those paths lead. What Troy does best is focus on it’s individual character’s and lets them shine. The violence of this film is brutal and earns it’s “R” rating. For anyone who enjoys a great epic movie, Troy should be on your list to rent, it’s on my shelf as property.