I'm blaming it on Leap Year. Yeah, that will do. I'm blaming Leap Year on the summer movie season unofficially starting last weekend with the uber-dissapointing Van Helsing, when it really should've started this weekend with Troy. Yeah, Leap Year is only one extra day, but it's good enough of a scapegoat. Troy should've definitely kicked off the summer movie season, because this is a glorious epic that will leave you glued to your seat...even if you have to stay in your seat a little too long.
Troy starts out near the end of a decade-long war, where King Agamemnon (Cox) and his army are invading all of Greece. His empire is vast, with only Troy, which has never been conquered, remaining. There is peace now, but then Helen of Sparta (Kruger) flees with her secret lover, Paris of Troy (Bloom). Her husband, Menelaus, then gets Agamemon, his brother, to go to war and get her back, which is just the excuse Agamemnon needed to conquer Troy, with the mighty Achilles (Pitt) and his Mermidan's leading Agamemnon's army...when they feel like it.
Troy is based of the epic poem The Iliad by Homer, which is considered to be the first written story in history. It's been quite awhile since I've read The Iliad, and I'm not totally sure how close they kept to the story, but it seemed fairly accurate to me. One thing that I didn't like, though, is that they didn't really explain Achilles background as much as they should have. Achilles was an invincible warrior, after his mother, Thetis, dipped Achilles in this river (I believe it was Styx, but I'm not sure) and after that, he basically couldn't be killed. But Thetis held Achilles by the heels, and that is the only part of his body that is suceptable to injury. They didn't explain this at all, really. We get a little glimpse of this at the end, but anyone who isn't familiar with The Iliad might be a tad confused. I just think they could've explained Achilles in a better manner.
But I was not bothered with the fact that they left out the Greek Gods from the story. Director Wolfgang Petersen said he left them out because he thought they were "silly" and unnecessary. I'm not really sure about the Gods being "silly" but I think it worked that he left them out. The Greek Gods would've taken a lot to create, because of their stature in the book, and I think Petersen was right about them being unnecessary. And I liked what screenwriter David Benioff did concerning the Gods, because he makes it appear that no good comes from appeasing and worshipping the Gods. It was just interesting how he almost made the Gods out to blame for everything. I wonder if Benioff is an Athiest...
There are some marvelous performances here from a wonderful cast. Brad Pitt gives an incredible performance as the uncontrollable Achilles. I don't really think that Pitt gets enough props as an actor. Most of his fame revolves around his looks and high-profile marriage with Jennifer Aniston. But Pitt is one of the best actors in the business and he simply shines in this role. Brian Cox is another favorite of mine, and he turns in another fabulous performance as the ruthless King Agamemnon. There really isn't a bad performance at all here, with very nice performances from Eric Bana, Orlando Bloom, Brendan Gleeson, Garrett Hedlund and gorgeous newcomer Diane Kruger, who plays Helen. The worst performance here is probably from Peter O'Toole as King Priam, but he's not even that bad at all. He just has an average performance among many great performances.
David Benioff's script is very good, with some wonderful dialogue and a great story. The movie does drag in some parts, especially with the many body-burnings. There was a lot that could've easily been cut from the movie, but, generally, the movie flowed rather nicely. Except for Achilles, there is some good character background, and, overall, the script is a winner. But the script is probably the one thing that won't get much recognition.
Director Wolfgang Petersen is masterful at the helm, using some simply amazing cinematography from Terry Gilliam favorite Roger Pratt. I think Pratt is a sure lock to win the Oscar for cinematography this year, because his camera work is just beautiful. This $185 million epic is probably Petersen's most ambitious project, and he pulls it off gloriously. The sheer scope of this movie is just unbelievable, and it's nice to see such a big-budget movie that spends it's cash on lavish sets, costumes and talent, rather than a bunch of CGI crap like some movie that came out last week...I think Petersen could've used a better score, because James Horner's score just commands more attention than necessary for a score. But Petersen is at the top of his game here in the director's chair, and I wouldn't be surprised at all if Petersen gets an Oscar nod for his wonderful direction.
Troy is a movie about war and fate, love and honor. It is made spectacularly and it has a little bit of everything that people love about the movies. Screw Van Helsing! This movie marks the true start of the summer movie season, and it's definitely worth the extended stay in the theater.