“Troy” is ultimately the prime example of how such an immense concept ripe with possibilities and potential can be so botched in the wrong hands. While an achievement in visuals, “Troy” fails in every other aspect including its writing and storytelling. Peterson excels at creating a half hour too long epic with just no point in sight. The film has so much going for it, but quickly blows it as we drudge on and on for three hours without any real substance nor do we take anything away from this demanding experience. As they say, if a film is great, three hours can fly by, but with a poor film, three hours can drag on, and this did indeed drag on with melodrama, romantic sub-plots and everything that drags this down. I love the legend of Helen of Troy and the face that launched a thousand ships, but this is not what I was hoping for, and it doesn’t pay homage to its true storyteller.
Essentially, you assume that a story about the war that was sparked by history’s biggest slut Helen of Troy would center or at least mostly feature the character on which the story involves, but we do not get that at all. Helen is only in this film for a short while, and the rest is a pony parade for Pitt who the director just loves. The problem is that Pitt sticks out like a sore thumb amidst everything else, and I wasn’t aware it was remotely possible to make the famous Trojan horse event so dull, but they accomplish it. Much like the previous “King Arthur” which truly failed at succeeding what it so ambitiously set forth on, “Troy” takes out the magic and mythology from this story with the gods interfering and playing a pivotal role, and brings this to the core, thus relinquishing its life and turning it in to another sword and sandal snooze fest.
Supposedly, this is based on Homer’s “The IIiad” sans the magic, and I wish the magic would have been included in this incredibly and often lackluster film that thrives on being more action and less character drama. With all the true aspects of the story thrown away, we’re given something that goes on and on without any dimensions. Hard to believe a film so long can feature such shallow characters, but it’s true. All the characters here are one-dimensional from Hector whose concept is broad, Helen of Troy who is scarce in appearance, and even Hector’s young brother Paris is conspicuously drawn in to the background without any reason to this. And the character of Achilles experiences the worst depiction of all. We’re supposed to sympathize and root for Achilles, we constantly see him in battle as this hero, and the marketing team made it a point to boast the film as his, but from beginning to end he’s this cliché, machismo fueled, egomaniacal caricature I couldn’t connect with.
Regardless of the boasting in the climax about what a god he was, and I often saw him as a more antagonistic being. Perhaps it’s from the story, or just bad writing, but I found it incredibly difficult to sympathize or care about such a one-dimensional one note character as Achilles who never gave the audience redeeming features for us to connect to what he was striving for. There’s just nothing to like about Achilles who basically strides around whining about his lost battles, and then completely acts as a black and white villain on the battlefield. In the end, I cared more about the sub-plot with Hector and Paris than I did with Achilles. As for the pluses, they are few and far between to notice and merit the film a good rating. The fight choreography is often very well done with some brutally exciting sequences between two gladiators duking it out and I have to admit I was often intrigued and excited during these sequences.
As for the performances the only truly good ones here are by Eric Bana and Orlando Bloom. While everyone else was basically give or take, Bana and Bloom have great chemistry together as brothers looking out for one another and guiding each other during the war. Bana, who received no credit for this, is a stand out in his performance as Hector, the prince and warrior of his land who seeks to help his brother at all costs in spite of the fact he’s been pushed in to a war by him. Bana excels in portraying a conflicted character thus adds depth to a character while others lack it. Bloom is great as the cowardly and conflicted Paris who looks to his brother for guidance often and seriously gets his family in deep with a horrible war.
The film is very cheesy often requiring the villains to be villains with over the top giggling, and chewing of the scenery while the heroes are basically glum and angst-ridden, and it’s all so un-involving with very clunky often odd dialogue. And, the crew makes great use of their special effects, I mean how many times can we see a humongous swooping angle of armies of soldiers marching to war before we get sick of it? Twice for me. And when all was said and done I received nothing from this because it’s ultimately mishandled, and miscast. Don’t be fooled by the gimmick. Pitt is bland and the character of Achilles one-dimensional, but because of the great performances by Cox, O’ Toole, and especially that of Bana and Bloom I wasn’t completely under-whelmed. Either way, it’s lackluster in plot, dialogue, and overuse of massive army effects making for an exhausting, wasteful, forgettable sword and sandal epic.