Dir: Wolfgang Petersen
Star: Brad Pitt, Eric Bana, Brian Cox, Peter O'Toole, Diane Kruger, Brendan Gleeson
Cert / Year: 15 - R / 2004
Format: Cinema

Paris a young Trojan prince has an affair with Helen the wife of the King of Sparta Menelaus. When he returns home she goes with him to the city of Troy. Menelaus swears revenge and goes to his brother Agamemnon for help. Together they raise a vast army and set sail in a fleet of a thousand ships to conquer Troy. This won't be easy as Troy is well defended and its armies are lead by the hero Hector, but Agamemnon has his own hero all be it one he can't control in Achilles. This will be one war that the stuff of legends are made of.

There is no doubt that this is a film on an epic scale. Vast armies, fleets of a thousand ships vast city walls and a giant wooden horse all go to show why it cost nearly two hundred million to make. In many places this movie is nothing short of stunning, with the battle scenes being even more impressive than those in Gladiator. However those who brave it's two and three quarter hour running time will find out it is a film of two halves.

The good half consists of the special effect and the amazing battle scenes. When the camera pans out from one Greek ship to reveal a thousand of them it is an impressive site. As is watching to armies of over twenty five thousand men each clash in pitched battles. The shear scale of it all is outstanding and extremely impressive. Scenes like Achilles storming the Trojan beaches or the battle outside the gates of Troy are ones that you will remember for some time.

Also on the plus side are the performances of most of the all-star cast. Brad Pitt may not have been the best choice to play Achilles but he certain has built up the physique and gives it his all. However it is his adversary Hector played by a thankfully free from a green CGI monster Eric Bana that impresses more. Old stalwarts Peter O'Toole and Brain Cox add much needed weight (in Brian Cox's case maybe a little to much both physically and in the overacting stakes). Diane Kruger looks good but little else, Orlando Bloom is wimpy, Sean Bean is under used, and Rose Byrne is impressive as the love interest. The cast may have their good and bad points but overall it is sheer quality and they add a lot to the piece.

However there is another half to the film that isn't so impressive, and this consists of the long periods of abject boredom that link the battles. The film is a good hour too long, as the script tries hard to be an epic but it just isn't good enough. It attempts to be a deep character study when in reality it is often repetitive and meaningless. These linking scenes are pompous and full of their own self-importance, like when Hector says goodbye to nearly everybody he ever knew (and a few he didn't) before facing Achilles. They just try to hard to add meaning to the spectacle when there just isn't any. A simpler sharper script like Gladiator would have made all of the difference.

Well it would have except for the other problem, and that is hero worship that often spoils the realism of the battles. By all means have the hero's fighting in amongst twenty thousand men, but don't bass the whole success of the battle on one man. This isn't apparent when Achilles storms the beach but rears its head during the attack on Troy, when it appears that Achilles and his thirty men are the only Greeks who can fight out of an army of fifty thousand. It is even worse when the Trojans attack the Greeks on the beaches, where a battle of tens of thousands come to a halt so that Achilles and Hector can go at it. Then when one loses everyone decides to halt the battle and go home, I'm sorry but this is farcical.

Troy is in equal part brilliant and poor. When it is good with its gob smacking visuals it is very good, and when it is bad during the boring talky scenes it is poor. It is a shock that such a brilliantly organised director as Wolfgang Petersen allows such and uneven pace especially given the brilliance of his World War 2 epic Das Boot, but maybe this film is an effects movie not an historical epic at all. It is a film that will stun you with its looks but leave you feeling strangely unfulfilled. The first of Hollywood’s cash ins on Gladiator is well worth a watch but just can't match the standard set by Ridley Scott's classic.


For honor, for victory, for love, for destiny, for passion, for Troy


Agamemnon: A great victory was won today, but that victory was not yours. Kings do not kneel to Achilles. Kings do not pay homage to Achilles.
Achilles: Perhaps the kings were too far behind to see.

Agamemnon: (about Achilles) Of all the warlords loved by the gods, I hate him the most.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Reviewed by Glitz Back Top Home