johnlink ranks TROY (2004)

My last movie of 2014 was the 3 hour 20 minute Director’s Cut of TROY. I remember seeing the shorter version of this ten years ago, give or take, and thinking it was pretty decent. I’ve been sitting on the Director’s Cut for awhile, and it seemed like serendipity when I realized I could watch it with three minutes to spare before the ball dropped at midnight. Happy 2015 everyone!

TRFC-09

I watched TROY (2004) on 12.31.14. It was my second viewing of the film, but first of the longer Director’s Cut.

Something about TROY just doesn’t feel legitimate. This isn’t a pure money grabbing swords-and-sandals faux-epic like POMPEII. Because, in terms of scale and story, TROY really does want to be a full blown large-scale epic. But some of the sets feel built, some of the scenarios feel forced, and many of the characters lack depth.

Director Wolfgang Petersen decided to tell the story of the fall of Troy. This means Helen of Troy (Diane Kruger), Agamemnon (Brian Cox), Odysseus (Sean Bean), Hector (Eric Bana), Priam (Peter O’Toole), and Achilles (Brad Pitt). What is purposely left out is the intervention of the Gods from Homer’s Iliad. This is a movie in which the characters are men who speak of Gods, but the Gods have no role in the story other than what belief in them leads men to do. In doing so, TROY treats the events depicted as an attempt to tell the human story which led to the legend.

What works about TROY, and there is a good deal that does, is that the lead characters are multi-dimensional. There is not a clear good side and evil side, even if there are good men and evil men. Achilles does some horrible things, but remains the protagonist. We pull equally for Hector, who is as close to purely good as we get, and the confrontation between the two is a wonderful hero versus hero moment. There is complexity to the story.

On the other hand, the Greeks laying siege to Troy literally rape women in the streets and throw babies over the walls. When these things happen it does not feel like the movie has earned them. Sure, we are told they will do this before it comes to pass, but TROY has too much the feel of Hollywood staging to suddenly become a movie where we can throw babies over the walls.

The Trojans are too naive. King Priam listens to Priests reading bird signs more than he does his son who is a legitimate warrior and a leader. This leads to the expectedly bad things that happen. In the third act, to make things worse, he doesn’t learn. But Peter O’Toole makes Priam much more than a dumb king. His scene in Achilles tent late in the film is a powerfully strong scene between two really good actors.

Unfortunately, the film isn’t filled with these great acting bits. There is no one who is bad, per se (though Taylor Mane as the uber-strong Ajax is close), but the writing is not up to the task. These actors have a lot of banal and silly language to try and turn into something that is not trite. They succeed sometimes, but there are many words which ring hollow; none worse than the two pre-fight speeches by Achilles and Hector.

So Troy is a bit of an empty epic. It is still an entertaining movie. The violence is unexpectedly gory and the action scenes are well choreographed (sometimes to point of being unbelievable). At over three hours long, this may not be worth the runtime. It is in the mid-tier of epics. It is not top notch, but you can do much much worse.

SCORES

FILM: 5; MOVIE: 8; ACTING: 6;  WRITING: 4

5+8+6+4+0=23

FINAL SCORE: 5.75 out of 10

 

 

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~ by johnlink00 on January 1, 2015.

3 Responses to “johnlink ranks TROY (2004)”

  1. Great post. Never saw Troy. Trailer never interested me, and I was too young to see it at the time. Might give it a look now. Which would you recommend I see, the original or director’s cut?

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