Wednesday, May 03, 2006


RUN TIME: 163 min.
RATING: **1/2

Since TROY was announced I just kept wondering that how such an epic like ILLIAD (THE ODYSSEY) could be encompassed into a single movie. Movies obviously have a constraint as far as the run time is concerned. I desperately wanted into it to be made in three parts like the LORD OF THE RINGS films as the Trojan horse story deserves that. But it was made in a 3 hrs movie. And the movie is at best average if not disappointing.
As expected the movie is handicapped from the very beginning because of its source material. ILLIAD is such a magnificent epic much in tune with the Hindu epics- Ramayana and Mahabharata. It has so many diverse characters, so many sub-plots that it is just impossible to put it in 3 hrs. But Wolfgang Petersen has decided to put more emphasis on the war part, obviously obliged to the box-office. I am sorry to say but the movie is more of a loser than a winner.
The movie itself starts on an incredibly dumb note. Helen just gives a dumb excuse for her flirtation with the visiting Prince Paris and elopes with him. There is no character development in the movie. As in KING ARTHUR, the characters are caricatures. Now why does she do that is never dealt with? Just a line is given as a reason and the deed is done. In a way this is one of the main problems with today’s summer action blockbusters. Absolutely no emphasis is laid on the motivation and development of a character. A line is given just to explain the action and it is done. The source material has such wonderful and complex characters but here you don’t even care for them.
The plot needless to say is pretty straightforward. Helen of the Spartan kingdom runs away with Paris giving a stupid one-line as reason. The Spartan emperor King Agamemnon (Brian Cox) who just needs a reason to attack Troy launches a full scale invasion for what is hailed as the greatest war of all time. It involves all great mortal characters from Achilles (Brad Pitt) to Hector (Eric Bana) to King Prealm (Peter O Toole). The rest of the movie is action action and more action with little or no depth in character.
The movie’s strong points are obviously its action and set pieces. As we have come to expect from big studio endeavors as this a lot of money is thrown and they are really spectacular. The war scenes are spectacular. The sword fights, especially the one involving Hector and Achilles is quite good. The Trojan city is spectacular. But a small flaw just stuck there. The buildings in the Trojan city were as high as the horse itself. Now that was never the case during those times. Buildings hardly rose over 3 stories. But that can easily be neglected. You can easily see as to where all the money went. The bird’s eye view of the army invasion is quite spectacular. One thing I would like to note here is the obvious lift off of the beach invasion by the Myrmidons under Achilles from SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. The scene bears an uncanny resemblance to the now fames Omaha landing from that movie. But the TROY scene is nowhere as brilliant as the one in SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. Now this is where all good things end.
The acting department is at best average. Gone are the good old days of period epics like SPARTACUS, BEN HUR or the contemporary BRAVEHEART and GLADIATOR. These movies owed their success to spectacle but a large part to the performances from the cast. Kirk Douglas gave in SPARTACUS what arguably was his best performance. RUSELL CROWE won an Academy Award for his Maximus in GLADIATOR.
But here the only notable performances are from Brad Pitt and Eric Bana. And trust me on this; it is not the actor’s fault. The blame fairly and squarely lies on the screenwriters and the directors for such bland character development. When actors like Peter O Toole and Brian Cox don’t fail to impress, it sure is an indication of disaster.
Brad Pitt tries his level best and succeeds to a level in bringing a touch of grounded ness to the role. There are many critics including Mr. Ebert who would say that actors playing mythological characters should act mythological. But I would beg to disagree on that part. In fact I am very much in favor of what Pitt and Bana were trying to do. The only problem was that they were let down by the script. One prime example is when Achilles has something of a debate about the status of gods with Hector’s cousin sister. He utters this incredibly dumb line- “Gods envy us because we are mortal. Every moment is the one to savor.” Pitt is desperately trying to make that dialogue believable but I couldn’t stop laughing on it. It is stuff like these that separate average movies from great movies, not spectacle.
Eric Bana is obviously going from strength to strength. He brings a raw power to his role, a sense of authority and nobility to the character of Hector. He is almost what we imagine Hector would look like.
But in the whole I am disappointed by the movie. Movies like this have no heart, no soul and no existence. What if $150 million were spent on it? There is not a single scene I would remember from it after even 1 week. The Trojan epic has such brilliant characters. But most of them have been wasted by giving them bit parts and most notably stupid dialogues. TROY is a prime example of what is wrong with Hollywood summer blockbusters today. VAN HELSING, KING ARTHUR, PEARL HARBOR all in the same category. It is high time somebody realize that the shelf life of a movie is very less now. If you don’t have good enough characters and a good plot, no matter what the story is, the movie would not run for too long.

1 comment:

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