Partnering with Tearfund

Troy (DVD)

Starring: Brad Pitt, Orlando Bloom, Eric Bana (Hulk), Peter O'Toole, Sean Bean

Rated: 15

Story: It's the Iliad re-imagined by movie executives. Paris (Bloom), a prince of Troy, makes off with Helen, queen of Sparta. Agamemnon, her brother-in-law and ruler of all Greece, uses this as an excuse to wage war against Troy. Achilles (Pitt) reluctantly helps him out in between moody bouts of angst. Vast armies clash. Odysseus (Bean) suggests building a horse. Homer spins in his grave.

Comments: They don't often make them like this anymore. An historical epic with a cast of thousands, lumbering dialogue and a tenuous link to the accepted story. Except, of course, since this isn't the Golden Age of Hollywood, there isn't actually a cast of thousands, there's just two blokes, a horse and a liberal amount of computer animation. It still feels like a trip back in time, though. You half expect Charlton Heston to put in an appearance at any moment carrying a couple of stone tablets.

Troy doesn't murder its source material as brutally as many other films, it just gives it a good kicking and leaves it for dead. It's not such a complete travesty as, say, the film adaptations of The Running Man or The Last of the Mohicans but there's been plenty of re-arranging to make things fit into a standard action movie mould.

And the gods have been taken out.

In fact, about the most fantastical thing which happens is that the Trojans are rather too trusting of Greeks bearing gifts. If you're going to make a film based on mythic poetry, why remove all the mythological elements? What's left feels like a World War II film in togas.

Half the cast struggle with dialogue which attempts to sound 'authentically' archaic but just comes across as wordy and awkward. Thanks to their training in Middle-Earth, however, Bean and Bloom do better than most. O'Toole spends most of the movie with his eyes so wide he looks like he's sat on a nail. Pitt is desperately miscast - he struggles to give Achilles the hidden depths which the script requires and occasionally looks a bit silly during the fights.

Despite all these issues, though, Troy isn't awful. It has massed battles like The Lord of the Rings, a beach assault like Saving Private Ryan and the epic scale of Gladiator. It's never dull but an expensive movie with a star-filled cast based on one of the world's most famous pieces of classic literature should deliver more than pale reminders of other, better, movies.

Conclusion: A missed opportunity lacking in spectacle and direction. It's OK to watch but check there isn't anything better on telly first.

Explosions: None.
Large, suspicious wooden horses: One.
Sympathetic characters: Not enough.
Artistic licence: Lots.
Brad Pitt in a skirt: Plenty.
Annoyed scholars of ancient literature: All of them.

Rating: 3/5.

No comments: