Saw Troy yesterday (Friday) evening with some friends, 5.10 pm, TGV KLCC. (On a related note, I heard Maya Karin was there to promote her movie later yesterday evening. Can anyone confirm this?) We somehow managed to obtain great seats (my friend R said “it’s all about how you talk to the girl at the counter”) and so I sat back in anticipation of being able to watch another Gladiator-style epic.
(You can read a summary of the plot and other facts about the movie here).
It’s safe to say that although the scale of the movie (the sets, the costumes, the number of extras) was certainly epic, the movie itself isn’t. Indeed, you’re more likely to leave the theatre disappointed than anything else.
The battle scenes, which are a central focus of the movie – while spectacular – does not quite reach the heart-thumping excitement experienced while watching the Lord Of The Rings movies. As such, some movie-goers (like myself) would probably just go blah and lose concentration. There is one scene that does grab your attention though, and that is the one-on-one fight between Prince Hector and Achilles. But don’t expect more of the same for the remainder of the movie.
There also seemed to be too many shots of funeral pyres (it seems everytime someone dies, they have to show the whole burning ritual. It just seemed to me to take up precious time, which could have been utilised for better use.) There’s also the incredibly annoying sound of the wailing woman in the soundtrack. Trust me, halfway through the movie, you’d be wishing someone would shut her up, one way or the other. Give me a heart-wrenching violin solo any day.
The performances of the main stars vary in performance. While I thought Eric Bana’s Hector was good in his unfortunately limited role, and Peter O’Toole’s portrayal of a King who has seen too many wars and puts too much trust in his priests is spot on (although, again, in relatively limited screen-time), the performance of the others was nothing to shout about. Diane Kruger’s Helen didn’t give the impression of the face that launched a thousand ships, and mostly seemed to fulfill the requisite eye-candy role. Orlando Bloom’s Prince Paris, in my opinion, came across as being a wuss. A wimp. A… well, you get the idea. Although weirdly enough, his best moment in the movie was when he reverted to being Legolas towards the end.
The power-hungry King Agamemnon was played very deviously by Brian Cox, and for some reason reminded me of an evil version of King Theoden in LOTR. Sean Bean (another LOTR alumni) plays King Odysseus, the only man Achilles would listen to. Sadly, he just doesn’t have enough screen-time to make an impact. Julie Christie, who plays Achilles’ mother, has only one scene, and honestly it doesn’t even seem necessary. The director was obviously trying to add some backstory to Achilles’ motives here, but it simply doesn’t work.
But the real star of the film is Brad Pitt’s Achilles, the legendary warrior who only wants to etch his name in immortality and has no allegiance to any king or country. He gets the most screen-time, the most lines, and the most emotional and heroic scenes than all the others. He also gets to show off his buff bod, and has a couple of sexy scenes too (with editing by our censors, of course). Speaking of which, my friend H commented that it’s wierd that despite all the violence and sex, this movie was still rated ‘U’, while Van Helsing was stuck with an ’18-PL’. What the hell…?
So was Brad Pitt any good? Hmm, tough to answer, this one. I would venture to say he was average. Not bad enough to warrant a bashing, but not good enough to warrant an award, me thinks. He successfully displayed an arrogance and confidence in his abilities as the world’s greatest warrior, but he didn’t somehow come across as totally heroic in the mould of Aragorn (yes, LOTR again. What can I say, Peter Jackson has definitely raised the bar for epics.) And then there’s the Achilles’ heel of the movie: Achilles’ heel. Or to be more precise, the background to Achilles’ quest for immortal fame and King Agamemnon’s quest to expand the Greek empire. These are key stories in the lead up to the Trojan War, and those who have never read Homer’s Illiad will have no understanding of the meaning behind the events, and the Achilles’ heel incident at the end will probably just go over their heads.
So for those who’re looking for some background to the Trojan War before you catch the flick (and I strongly recommend you do), read this, this, this, this, this and/or this. Don’t worry, it won’t spoil your enjoyment of the movie, since the producers have taken some creative liberties with history for this cinematic version.
In summary, I wouldn’t call it a complete waste of time. As a pop-corn flick, it more than serves its purpose. For the ladies, the sight of Brad Pitt in the buff may be worth the price of admission. (By the way, for the record, let me just say that the Heineken ad before the movie, which featured Mrs Brad Pitt, was hilarious.)The battle scenes are decent enough. The acting isn’t Oscar-material, but I suppose it can be overlooked. Plus, my friend H learned for the first time why malicious computer spyware/viruses that come disguised as harmless files are known as ‘Trojan Horses‘. Who says summer blockbusters can’t be educational too?
My rating for Troy: