When a film costs nearly $200 million to make you expect something big. Yet, to say that Troy is big is an understatement. Sweeping doesn't do it justice. Magnificent is too pedestrian. I can't think of a single all encompassing adjective to describe it.
The incredible epics of the 50s, those Cecil B. DeMille extravaganzas pale in comparison.
Yet, like Moses, or The Ten Commandments, or Cleopatra, huge does not necessarily make a great film.
The film is based on "The Iliad," Homer's epic poem of heroism and ignominious defeat.
It focuses on the siege of Troy about 1200 BC by the Greek armies after the Trojan prince Paris (Orlando Bloom) steals the beautiful Helen (newcomer Diane Kruger ) from King Menelaus, the brother of the Greek king Agamemnon. After landing on the Troy beaches, the Greeks are repelled by the Trojans but, following a series of bloody battles – almost as an afterthought – the wooden horse is wheeled out to smuggle the Greeks into the city, which is duly burnt.
As Achilles (Brad Pitt), an almost invincible super-hero who operates with an elite band of warriors on the fringe of the Greek army, Pitt spends much of the early part of the film brooding on the sidelines as the armies battle it out. It is only when his cousin is killed by Paris’s brother Hector that he unleashes himself on the Trojans.
Pitt certainly looks the part. His newly found beefed buffed body will have hearts pounding. Mine was. The shoulder-length mane of blond hair adds wondrously to the image.
But, then he opens his mouth and the illusion is lost. Pitts is an excellent actor. But, he cannot make the often portentous lines ring true.
Orlando Bloom is equally hunky and alas, equally uneasy with the dialogue. While one can easily imagine his Paris stealing the beautiful Helen away from Menelaus, it is more difficult to believe him as a Trojan warrior waging serious battle.
One of the highlights of the cast is a pumped-up Eric Bana, last seen as the alter ego of The Incredible Hulk. Bana is a credible Hector and does justice to the script. And, magnificent as always, Peter O’Toole brings magic to the tragic Priam.
Yet while the acting is somewhat uneven, the effects are not. The computer-generated armada and the battle scenes simply overwhelm the viewer with their sweeping vistas. This is an immense canvas that Peterson deftly fills.
A flawed film, yes, but I would not have missed it for the world. And, I could easily watch it again, and again.