HOME ABOUT SUPPORT US SITES WE LIKE FORUM Search Fanboyplanet.com | Powered by Freefind FANBOY PLANET
Now Showing Today's Date:


War is Hades, but we still love watching it on film. Our enjoyment can only be increased when that war is chock full of some of Hollywood's upcoming best and brightest, led by a man who strides the screen like the demigod he finally plays, Brad Pitt.

You might think I was leading up to some ironic statement there, but no, Troy really does deliver most of what it promises. Writer David Benioff may skimp on the mythic in his re-telling of The Trojan War, but he lays out plenty of action and occasionally a surprising amount of depth. Nor is director Wolfgang Peterson a slouch when it comes to bringing that action to life. When it comes to depth, he seems to lean a bit toward melodrama, but never for very long. It's kind of hard to avoid with all those British accents anyway.

Based on the classic poem by a blind bard known to history as Homer, Benioff's script sets up the conflicts with a modern eye. Where Homer dove right into the war, the screenwriter takes time to bluntly introduce a philosophical musing that forms the film's heart. What good is living if you are not remembered afterward? Peterson sets that question against spare landscapes and gently lapping waves, sort of like a Greek Deep Thoughts. But don't worry; this won't make your head hurt unless you let it.

Almost immediately afterward, we see the personality clash between conqueror King Agamemnon (Brian Cox) and the greatest warrior of the age, Achilles (Pitt). All the golden boy knows is killing, and he's incredibly good at it. However, he resents Agamemnon for pitting armies against each other without taking part in the battles himself.

After being roused from the aftermath of an Achilles sandwich, he sneers at the big fat Greek monarch, "Imagine if a King did his own fighting." It would be easy to give the sentiment modern resonance, but Troy is too smart to give answers that simple. Achilles may fumblingly wish for peace, but he also wants the immortality that being a warrior will give him - he intends to be remembered for thousands of years.

In another part of Greece, Trojan envoys cause trouble when Paris (Orlando Bloom) falls in love with another king's wife, Helen (Diane Kruger). Paris' brother Hector (Eric Bana) knows kidnapping the beauty, however willingly, makes war inevitable, and family loyalty conflicts with his duty to his city-state.

War is inevitable, because Troy is the last city standing in Agamemnon's way toward a completely unified Greece. Any excuse he can find, be it stolen bride or Walls of Mass Construction, will drive him toward battle. If, of course, Achilles can be convinced to join him.

And so begins a siege that in literature lasted ten years, but the film condenses to much less than that. Yet the cleverness of Benioff's script allows you to see how fact could easily have passed into larger legend, especially in the figure of Achilles. Gods never make an appearance, but their absence does not quite make the mere mortals look dumb for believing in them. Even the fabled Trojan Horse gets clever foreshadowing, and when it finally appears, what could have been ridiculous only makes our hearts sink in our mouths.

Though Agamemnon is naked in his ambition, almost everyone else is painted with greater shades. Odysseus (Sean Bean) believes a unified Greece outweighs the price of it being under a boor like Agamemnon. The King of Troy, Priam (Peter O'Toole) loves his country, and knows his son Paris to be a fool, but accepts Helen anyway, though it means the destruction of everything. As for the brothers Hector and Paris, theirs is a relationship fraught with tragedy, but played out beautifully and believably. (Finally, American audiences will understand why directors keep casting Bana - this is his most nuanced role since Chopper.)

The struggle goes on between glory and survival throughout the film, and purists may be a bit upset. So might Bloom's fans be, because Paris is pretty much an ineffectual pretty boy. It's a canny use of an actor's rapidly ascendant reputation, even more jarring that in the film, Helen is supportive of what almost every other character would consider cowardice. She launches a thousand ships; he dies a thousand deaths.

Troy has some of the sensibilities of an old-fashioned epic, though it does revolve around Achilles. Pitt carves a new niche as a thinking man's action hero. Impossibly chiseled and handsome, his performance borders on stylization, but effectively. Even the way he moves serves as a plot point. Achilles may not be the largest man on the battlefield (damn Pitt and his perfect proportions), but Peterson believably frames him as the most dangerous. Only Hector has a shot at beating Achilles, and even then only if he hulks out.

Entertaining and often absorbing, Troy does still suffer from some of its director's weaknesses. A few inexplicable slow motion moments work their way in. Like The Perfect Storm, the film also feels just a bit too long, though it's hard to pinpoint exactly why.

Don't let that stop you, because it's still a good action film with a brain.


Obsessive Fanboy Note: Greek Warrior Ajax is a rare speaking role for Tyler Mane, the guy who played Sabretooth in X-Men

Also, for another more naturalistic take on the history of The Trojan War, check out Eric Shanower's comic series Age of Bronze.

Derek McCaw

Our Friends:

Official PayPal Seal

Copyrights and trademarks for existing entertainment (film, TV, comics, wrestling) properties are held by their respective owners and are used with permission or for promotional purposes of said properties. All other content ™ and © 2001, 2014 by Fanboy Planet™.
"The Fanboy Planet red planet logo is a trademark of Fanboy Planetâ„¢
If you want to quote us, let us know. We're media whores.
Movies | Comics | Wrestling | OnTV | Guest | Forums | About Us | Sites