Nishan Fuard


28th July 2004
Troy Poster reviewer: Nishan Fuard
rating: 2 out of 5
directed by: Wolfgang Petersen
written by: Homer (poem) and David Benioff (screenplay)
starring: Brad Pitt, Orlando Bloom, Diane Kruger, Brian Cox
genre: Action Drama War Adventure Romance
released: 21st May 2004

Whether or not you have feasted on Homer and the Greek Myths, Wolfgang Petersen’s Troy is insipid fare. Despite having some of the most exciting stories ever told for inspiration, Hollywood has produced a film that lacks even the drama of a playground scrap over a stolen kiss.

So as not to invite risible comparisons with Clash of the Titans, the screenwriter has given the boot to those meddling and capricious Greek gods. However, there is no absence of the divine: a bronzed Brad Pitt, a vulnerable Orlando Bloom and a resolute Eric Bana. No doubt the aim is to transform Homer’s heroes on the page into heartthrobs on the screen. Well it worked, at least for the noisily appreciative schoolgirls in the back row.

During a diplomatic mission, Paris (Bloom) falls in love with Helen (Diane Kruger) the beautiful wife of Menelaus (Brendan Gleeson), the Spartan king. He whisks her back to Troy knowing it will lead to war. Menelaus’ powerful brother, Agamemnon (Brian Cox), ostensibly leads Greece’s armies to avenge the insult, but he really only has conquest in mind. However, victory is unthinkable without the aid of the temperamental Achilles (Pitt), the finest warrior alive but whose allegiance to his king is grudging.

We aren’t bogged down in years of war (the film suffers from a poor sense of time – except when captions are used it’s never clear whether or not days or weeks have passed), but are treated to select battles. Although they’re bloody and chaotic I think Peter Jackson has spoilt us. Troy’s efforts lack the prowess and, more significantly, the passion evident at Helm’s Deep or Minas Tirith.

Troy shies away from the mythical to present the ‘historical’, but it doesn’t make for a better film. Certain parts of the myths would have translated into kick-ass action scenes, particularly events surrounding Achilles’ death, but in many instances the changes are understandable if not forgivable. Not so with the film’s ending, which is pure Hollywood and all that that implies.

The reason for much of Troy’s blandness is the characterisation. Without the gods to upset the balance more effort should have been spent on the earthly characters. Cox is animated and determined while Peter O’ Toole as venerable Priam is involved in the film’s best scene. But the main players are not so noteworthy.

Pitt as Achilles is a brooding slab of manliness that warms his bed with two women (there’s no sexual ambiguity in this film), but you sometimes feel that he is more of a sulky teenager than a fearsome warrior – there is little of the myth in the man.

Bloom is more comfortable as the cowardly Paris although there is no chemistry between him and Helen. This isn’t entirely Bloom’s fault because Ms Kruger might have the “face that launch’d a thousand ships”, but she has little else. An opportunity to present the vampish, self-serving Helen hinted at in the myths is wasted.

More disappointing is that Eric Bana, who plays Hector, once again isn’t allowed to display his talent. Hector is upright in matters regarding his family and home, but it’s a restrictive role so Bana isn’t allowed to break free. You wonder if anyone will allow him to shine as he did in Chopper.

Troy isn’t a bad film, but it suffers because of its weaknesses and all the shots of a buffed Brad Pitt can’t help.