Troy (2004) - Two-Disc Widescreen Edition

Genre(s): Action / Drama / Historical Epic / History / Romance / War
Warner Brothers || R - 163 minutes - $14.96 || January 4, 2005
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2005-01-14


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Wolfgang Petersen
Writer(s): David Benioff (screenplay)
Cast: Brad Pitt, Eric Bana, Orlando Bloom, Brian Cox, Peter O'Toole, Sean Bean, Diane Kruger


Theatrical Release Date: May 14, 2004


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • In the Thick of Battle - Featurette
  • From Ruins to Reality - Featurette
  • Troy: An Effects of Odyssey - Featurette
  • Gallery of the Gods
  • Theatrical Trailer


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Widescreen (2.40)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

Troy was a box office disappointment but it seems that the regular movie-goer enjoyed it (in general). However, I thought it was a film wanted to be an epic along the lines of Gladiator and while there were epic moments, these parts did not equal an epic as a whole. Although the aerial shots are sweeping and the set and costume design well done, the story just didn't have a certain... oomph to it. I felt little for these characters and perhaps part of blame could be the casting of Brad Pitt in the main role as Achilles. Even though Pitt does a decent job on the surface, I just didn't believe he was some mythical god as some of them did during the time. Instead of a seemingly undeaftable warrior, I saw Brad Pitt beating up some stuntmen and co-star Eric Bana.

Troy is a good film for those who enjoy the Gladiator-like movies and maybe you will see this as more of an epic than I did, but personally, this was more epic-lite than a grand movie that may stand the tests of time. The problem for me is, it's not going to stand the tests of my mind. Troy is an action movie that I will forget within a month which is unfortunate since the story could have been better.

Original Review:
Gladiator, Braveheart, these are just two epic movies that have come out in our recent times. While I don’t share the same views as some in regards to Gladiator, I can see why a lot of people liked it and submit that it is indeed an epic film with splendid direction from Ridley Scott and great acting from Oscar winner Russell Crowe. Now comes Troy, another epic in the same mold as Gladiator but falls short of receiving that status.

Troy is about Paris (Bloom), the prince of Troy, who “steals” away the Helen (Kruger), the queen of Sparta from King Menelaus (Brendan Gleeson), only hours after a peace agreement had been made between the two countries. Now, Menelaus, being a man of power, wants her back and decides to join forces with his brother, King Agamemnon (Cox). Agamemnon has slowly built up his own empire by conquering other countries with the help of legendary warrior, Achilles (Pitt), a man who is seemingly invincible.

Once Paris and Helen return home, the Achaean Greeks begin their assault on Troy. Hector (Bana), the brother of Paris and the son of King Priam (O’Toole), who, like Achilles, is somewhat legendary within those lands, commands the Trojan army.

As I was sitting in the theater after the first hour, I was thinking that Troy was an uninspired treasure. I enjoyed the cast, the story of it all, but I felt nothing for the characters nor did I care about what happens to them. Fortunately, the second half of the film delivered what I was expecting. It was at the point during a fight scene between Paris and Menelaus, where the winner would take Helen and the war would be over. While it’s not the best fight scene, it got me involved in the film once again.

The acting overall was all right. I felt that Eric Bana gave the best performance and, to my surprise, Brad Pitt handled his starring role pretty well, but Peter O’Toole probably most deserves recognition in terms of an Oscar nomination. The meeting between Priam and Achilles is something that goes on my list of great single scenes of all time (my favorite, by the way, is the one between Pacino and De Niro in Heat).

As for the others, they were all fine. I wasn’t too thrilled with Orlando Bloom because he seemed to be too much of a woos, even more so than I think the character called for, but he wasn’t annoying, so I could dismiss this complaint. Diane Kruger’s Helen, does what she’s supposed to do: be gorgeous enough that she’s worth all the trouble headed their way. And Brian Cox as as the main villain is OK, though nothing noteworthy.

While the acting from Pitt, Bana and Peter O’Toole were all excellent, but the battle scenes made this worthwhile. There were two scenes in particular; one involving fireballs being rolled down the sand dunes toward the Grecian army, and the other was the first battle between the two army’s as Agamemnon tries to take down Troy in his first attempt.

There were two faults that I found to be too intrusive to ignore: one was the uneven score from composer James Horner, who replaced Gabriel Yared and the second bad part was sadly enough, the direction of Wolfgang Petersen. Perhaps “bad” is too harsh of a word, maybe amateurish fits the bill better. With such hits as In the Line of Fire and Air Force One, but with Troy, it was too conventional for the type of film it is. Now, I’m not asking for anything that’s ground-breaking but if you’re going to present an epic film with a great cast, then I expect much, much more from a veteran director.

Overall, Troy is a good film with epic moments, but as a whole, is not an epic in itself. Having never read Homer’s “Illiad”, I don’t know how accurate it is, but I’ve been told and I have read that it is far from the poem, so for those who are a stickler for history, you may come out very disappointed and maybe even angry.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Troy has two-discs with the first one containing the feature film (and, unfortunately no commentary track). The second disc has little to it except three featurettes and a couple of other items outlined here:

In the Thick of Battle (12:10): Technically your basic 'making-of' crap, but I found it to be interesting especially when they showed footage of the aftermath of a hurricane that ruined the wall of Troy (which took weeks to rebuild) plus during this same time, Brad Pitt "tweeked" his achilles heel. There are your basic interview cuts with the cast and crew. The one-on-one fight between Eric Bana and Brad Pitt is chronicled primarily through the 17 minute featurette.

From Ruins to Reality (14:00): More interviews, this time with art directors and production designers and the occasional actor as they discuss trying to find the history about Troy and to figure out how this 1250 city would look. The word "epic" was used throughout, and I can see why they as the set design is indeed grand. The interviewees talk about the detail and the grandeur of the sets. Another part of the featurette talks about where they filmed. Originally they were going shoot in Morrocco but because of the Iraq War, they moved to Mexico instead. Despite the title, this one doesn't go nearly in-depth about what really happened at Troy, it's instead just glossed over. Although fascinating to me, some will no doubt get bored as it comes across more as something you'd see on the History Channel.

Troy: An Effects Odyssey (10:54): This third and final featurette covers the visual effects aspect of Troy including the massive ship as the Greek armies descended upon Troy. Interestingly, for the final shot in the film, they reduced the number of ships that were seen the film. The visual effects people felt that although there were 1,000 ships in the shot, there were still too many that in reality would not be possible (the wind would be taken out their sales). Next, they go through some motion capture shots plus the software used to multiply the number of soldiers (50k+) and making them each unique and different values of aggression, a "virtual chess" as one effects person noted. Part II of the featurette covers the sonic effects, the sound effects heard in the movie. This part gives a look inside the sound effects room filled with various items used to make the sound. For instance a single arrow flight sound was composite of a few things including a wiffle ball bat. They also go through how they make sounds for the swords, fire and other big sounds.

Gallery of the Gods: A 3-D tour of Mount Olympus, the statues of gods like Apollo and Athena (with narration). If you hate the history channel stuff, you will not like this. Anyways, we are given a brief (about one minute) history lesson of each god. If you are interested in Greek history, then maybe you'll find this useful. I didn't.

Lastly, there is the glorious trailer that made Troy out to be a potential epic.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

I've been pretty disappointed with the sound mix lately especially the action flicks. Troy has a decent mix but sometimes James Horner's score overpowers some of the battle scenes, so much so that the power of the sword blow or blasts doesn't come through the best it probably could. Maybe it's the Dolby surround and maybe Warner Brothers should consider putting a DTS mix with their movies. The picture, though, is quite good and the colors of this "epic" come through nicely.



.::OVERALL::.

The problem Troy has is that not only does the film fall short from being the true epic that the filmmakers were hoping for, it also falls way short of being a good DVD. Why two discs? Does the film take up so much space, they couldn't put the other material on the same disc? Personally, I think it's more about marketing as people think they're getting more for their money when there are two discs. I guess we could see a 10th or 20th anniversary edition with more features because the featurettes seemed to only scratch the surface.