Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Troy

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Dir: Wolfgang Peterson (Das Boot, A Perfect Storm, Poseidon)
Cast: Brad Pitt, Eric Bana, Orlando Bloom, Dian Kruger, Brian Cox, Rose Bryne, Sean Bean, Brendan Gleeson, Peter O'Toole, Saffron Burrows,
USA/UK/Malta, 2004

Seen: Originally in the theatre and revisited March 21, 2010

Reason to Watch & Review: For the Sword & Sandal Marathon*

Troy is a bit of an odd one for me. It made my Movie Memories from 2004 (not favourite films, but most memorable experiences) and most of the impression it left with me was not being able to follow it. So, it's not a surprize that the biggest difference I found in revisiting the film, was straight up understanding what was going on this time. When I originally saw this back in 2004 I wasn't that familiar with the story and could only spot Brad Pitt and Orlando Bloom, so most of the time I couldn't who anyone else was, what side they were on, and what their role was. Retrospectively, this feels really funny because now I'm familiar with all of the actors and in fact very fond of always keep an eye out for the work of Eric Bana, Sean Bean, Brian Cox (Red), Brendan Gleeson (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) and of course Brad Pitt.

It's also a film that the reaction to it was very centred about the time of it's release. It came out the same year as Alexander, and together those were several years after Gladiator, so there was a feeling of hopping on the popular train at the time. Although seeing it with some years distance now, Troy does stands up more on it's own than I felt at the time, but there is no denying the Gladiator influence, and even one word for word phrase that was used at a key moment. Also very referential 'of the time' was Orlando Bloom's character Paris, whom out of nowhere appears to have a strong proficiency with a bow & arrow, and I'm sure many of us watching automatically felt like we tripped back into The Lord of the Rings trilogy there.

That being said, it is a solid film in it's own right and gives us a different flavour than either Alexander or Gladiator in several ways. Although in some ways I feel like it could have been called Achilles, and been one more hero protagonist film based on the character played by Brad Pitt, whom gets a lot of screen time and even when off screen they are usually talking about him specifically or the effect or importance of his role in grand scheme of things. But, technically I would say it's an ensemble piece with Achilles on one side and then the brothers Hector & Paris on the other (played by Eric Bana and Orlando Bloom respectively) and all three of them are players of in a game played by higher powers. In this sense it's more of a ground level look at what's going on, as opposed to the regular hero story or a strive for power but rather the effects of what happens when you shake things up. Another different thing is that the character of Achilles isn't particularly likeable. He is skilled and even merciful at times, but carries a resentfulness that makes him hard to root for. But, the conflict here is that he's played by Brad Pitt which, I think by default, most people like regardless of the role. I do think he did a good job here, from the physicality of the role to the complicated combination of being adept but also like he didn't have much choice in what he could. The emotional moments were, let's just say not as strong as the others.

Other the other side of the ensemble we have Eric Bana as Hector. When I first saw this I remember having a conversation afterwards and they talked about how great Eric Bana was, and I couldn't place him at all. This is why revisiting can be a good thing, because one of the highlights this time was just that - Eric Bana's performance of, and the beauty of the character Hector. Got to love Hector, he was the shining star here for me. The straight up, going to do the right thing, kind of guy. He had a great physical presence, during the fight sequences as well as throughout the entire film. I would even say he's felt like the hero on the second viewing, which is so odd to see when it's not the main character.

One thing that isn't the best in Troy is that women have it pretty rough. From the 'it's all one the fault of a woman' thing with Helen to other threatening situations that often come up in any film that would use the term 'spoils of war'. It's not a huge focus, but it is present.

In terms of a sword & sandals film, it hits a lot of the marks that you want from the genre. Big battles, individual battles, pinpoints specific history, interesting and great locations. As it's more current, a lot of the effects are CGI which isn't my personal favourite, but they do showcase the vastness of the battles and places. Overall, I enjoyed it much more then second time round, and was particularly fond of the character of Hector and Eric Bana's performance.

Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed parts of it it
I'll watch it again
I'd recommend it to fans of epics that are action/effects oriented

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© Shannon Ridler, 2010

* The Sword & Sandal Marathon is a 13 week marathon exploring sword & sandal films in anticipation of the 2010 release of Clash of the Titans (2010)

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1 comment:

Joanna said...

It's really nice reading a review like this one, I totally agree with you. I've somewhat recently discovered my taking pleasure in watching historical films, I've enjoyed 300, The gladiator, Troy and many others. And I'm currently watching to shows, Rome and Spartacus, they absolutely fascinate me, especially Rome, which I totally recommend for all the drama and the perspective it brings upon the characters' mentalities.

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