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May 15, 2004

Last night the wife and I made a journey out to the local cineplex to see the newest summer flick, ‘Troy’. Well, we also went to see the bazillion previews that preceded it. Tack on an extra half hour, you’ll need it.

So what did I think of Troy? I almost really liked it.

Let me start by saying that the sets, the costumes, the ships, etc, all of were outstanding. The only thing that bugged me was Achilles’ armor, which for some reason to me looked funny without the words ‘Oakley’ stenciled in somewhere. The Trojan armor, though, was very well realized. And so was a certain famous horse. Likewise, I have to give my kudos to the cast. Peter O’Toole owned the show as Priam, but everyone else did a solid job too. I still have problems with Brad Pitt as Achilles, but he did do some great acting.

What ruined the movie for me is simple. Throughout the whole thing, they may not follow Homer’s tale word for word (certain people die when not supposed to, others don’t die when they should, etc), but they get the major events right, and even more importantly, they get the themes right. The themes of glory, and war, and brotherhood.

But about, oh, ten or fifteen minutes before the film comes to an end, it completely falls apart. All of the themes, all of the adherence to at least the message Homer meant to get across, are abandoned in favor of Hollywood plot devices. This was annoying. It pulled me out of the film and made me notice everything that they got wrong. It made me groan in annoyance at the fates of, well, just about everyone in the film. At least there was a bone to us Aeneid afficianados.

So how was the action, you ask? How as the directing? “I don’t care about one of the most enduring myths ever told, is there lots of blood?”, you ask.

Well, the action was good. Especially one on one. I take issue with some of Achilles’ dance-fighting, but overall it was fast, mean, and brutal. Though even Jame scoffed at how foolish it was of the Trojans to pack in so close to their city walls. It looks good on camera, but in real life there would be no freedom of movement.

Lots of blood. And lots of baby oil, too. If you like greasy, shirtless men, this is the movie for you.

The directing, I thought, was subpar. But then I’m not one of those who has to worship the ground that Wolfgang Petersen walks upon. Some scenes were great, but others had such cheeseball camera movements, pans, or zooms, that you sometimes felt you were watching “Days of our Lives”.

Ultimately, the movie exceeded my expectations. The theme work was strong, and the portrayal of Hector was especially well handled. But still, the film’s finale just ruined it for me. And, as I was trying to tell Jamie, not so much because of the glaring inaccuracies, but in the disrespect that the stupid Hollywood plot device shows the much larger event transpiring all around.

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