Troy Review

by Jerry Saravia (faust668 AT aol DOT com)
May 19th, 2004

TROY (2004)
Reviewed by Jerry Saravia
Viewed on May 15th, 2004
RATING: Two stars

"Troy" is like a modern sword-and-sandal epic where it is enough for the women to swoon when Brad Pitt appears barechested, and enough for the men to enjoy the fighting (especially if any scantily-clad women are in view). "Troy" has Brad Pitt in more scenes of nudity than any other time in his career, and plenty of swordfighting and armies of warriors fighting ad nauseam. Some of it is mildly enjoyable but the rest is as laughable as "One Million Years B.C."
Based rather loosely on Homer's "The Iliad," the story is set in Ancient Greece where the men and women of Troy wear tye-dye clothing and the rest of the denizens of Sparta wear heavy armor. Orlando Bloom (fresh from his Legolas role in "Lord of the Rings") is Paris, the prince of Sparta who has an illicit affair with Queen Helen of Sparta (Diane Kruger). Unfortunately, Helen is married to Menelaus (Brendan Gleeson), the brother of King Agamemnon (Brian Cox), the latter who wants a war just to have possession of nearby lands. Troy would be a nice addition. Shortly thereafter, Paris whisks Helen away and now, Menelaus and the King have waged a war against Troy. Of course, none of the King's vast army of soldiers are any match against the formidable Achilles (Brad Pitt), the stubborn, reluctant hero who despises the king.

Most of "Troy" is one sprawling battle sequence after another. Occasionally, we get Brad Pitt baring all for the camera in numerous sex scenes (Bloom is not that lucky), funeral pyres, dozens of overhead shots of CGI armies running across the landscape against the other armies, masts of ships across the sea, swordfights galore, women with shocked faces as the virile men fight, and so on. If you have seen "Gladiator" and "The Lord of the Rings" then nothing that transpires in this humdrum epic will come as a surprise. What is most surprising is that it is hardly engaging. None of these characters come alive beyond being animatronic wax figures. Only Eric Bana ("Hulk") as Paris's brother, Hector, instills some gravity into his character. And the grandly marvelous face that launched a thousand deserts, Peter O'Toole, shows some inner life and sparkle as King Priam of Troy. Diane Kruger as Helen, the actress who may launch a thousand Vanity Fair magazine covers, has a beautiful face that mostly cowers in tears - certainly Helen of Troy was more than just a sobbing queen.

The screening I attended for "Troy" was met with applause so I guess audiences will love it despite any criticism. But it is like watching "Clash of the Titans" without the magic, the suspense or the adventure (not to mention the angry gods like Apollo or Zeus). Coming from the director of "Das Boot," it is surprising that there is nothing to feast on in this nearly three-hour opus, and there is no real sense of conflict. It may make better sense to read the Homer tales that launched a thousand fans than to watch this overlong wanna-be epic.

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