Troy, when it was released, proved to be Orlando Bloom’s latest step in what is apparently becoming an inexplicable – not to mention completely doomed – quest to become the next Charlton Heston. Take a quick glance at his movie resume so far: The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Kingdom of Heaven, and the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Troy is just another overblown epic to add to that list, and it may very well prove to be Bloom’s undoing in his odd attempt to fill in the larger-than-life Heston’s shoes. The best we can do is wish him luck. While Bloom is certainly a better actor than Heston, he lack’s Heston’s enormous and masculine screen presence. Furthermore, what happens to his character in Troy during his big fight scene is something nobody EVER would have let happen to Heston in a movie. It may be just enough to convince Bloom to go for more small-time fare.
That Bloom has the name “Orlando Bloom” doesn’t help matters very much. That his character in Troy shares his name with an infamous and obscenely rich real-life hotel heiress is another deathblow. And his most effective weapon in Troy is the nice, safe bow and arrow, like it was in Lord of the Rings. However, I will give Bloom all the credit in the world for stealing the gorgeous Helen of Sparta, which kicks off one of the more impressive wars seen in history. Bloom’s character, Paris, steals Helen from her Spartan hubby, one of those men who seems to think being drunken, loud, rude, and violent is the same as being masculine. When the husband finds out what happened to his wife, Greece launches a massive war against Troy in order to get Helen back. But his motives for wanting Helen back don’t revolve around him missing her. He just wants to snap her neck himself for running out with prissy-boy.
It’s not as if the Greeks who participate in the war don’t have other motives for invading Troy. Some are just imperialists looking for the next logical place to jump. A major character in the movie, legendary Greek warrior Achilles, is an individualist whom Ayn Rand never could have written any better. Achilles is valuable to the Greek army because he’s the greatest fighter on the planet. He’s roundly hated by many of the officers who are in charge of the Greeks. His only reason for fighting is because he wants to be there when Homer etches the war in stone.
I hope this sounds like fun. Troy tries to be a massive, meaningful epic along the lines of Sparticus or Lawrence of Arabia or Gladiator. But it really isn’t. Troy is just a typical summer action movie wearing too much eyeshadow, blush, and lipstick. It is directed by Wolfgang “director of the classic Das Boot” Peterson. About the only big epic movie actor not appearing in it is Charlton Heston. Aside from Orlando Bloom, the cast of Troy includes big epic marquee names like Brad Pitt (who has made an epic or two in his day), Brian Cox, and Peter O’Toole (who gave the greatest epic performance ever in Lawrence of Arabia). Eric Bana, a fine actor himself, lends his likeness to Peterson’s Troy as Paris’s big brother Hector. His performance is easily the best in the movie, and he gets an awesome one-on-one fight scene between his Hector and Pitt’s Achilles.
The battle and action scenes are amazing to watch, but Peterson doesn’t give a whole lot of thought to actually taking sides. The Trojans basically started the war because they were the ones with the gall to kidnap Spartan royalty. But it’s the Greeks who come off as the dastardly ones, a group of loud, obnoxious people who really don’t seem to give a crap about anything except their own power. Achilles is a mysterious entity of his very own, constantly renouncing his loyalty to his own king and asserting himself as his own ruler. Maybe I’m just not seeing this the way it’s meant to be seen, but I had a lot of problems figuring out just which side I’m supposed to be supporting. I did like Achilles, kind of. I can certainly respect his ideas of being his own person, despite the extreme he took it to. But there is an affair between Achilles and a Trojan royal which I didn’t buy into because the hate in this love/hate relationship won out most of the time.
Those epic buffs looking for those wonderful ancient schemers in the vein of the Roman Senators in the movies will be disappointed. Motives in Troy are given a real kid treatment and they’re just transparent as the television screen you’ll be using to watch Troy on. The Trojans are all portrayed as light warriors, proud people who go to fight for noble, purposeful causes. The characters in Troy all give you what you see. The practical upshot of this is that there are no unnecessary chats in Troy. The bare-boned characters and lack of talking give way to a lot of pretty visuals and spectacular battle sequences. You get to sit through a lot of sword-swinging and bloodshed at a rate which would satisfy most hardcore action movie nuts. Director Peterson really knows how to field marshall all the chaos happening on the set of a large-scale epic, so the direction is simply jaw-dropping.
I’ve never read The Iliad, so there’s a chance I may be wrong about this. But one thing I noticed about Troy is that the great war between Greece and Troy is supposed to have lasted ten years. In the movie, there’s probably less than six months between Paris stealing Helen and the burning of Troy. I wonder what gives. However, Troy isn’t meant to be a meditation about the harsh realities of a ten-year war. It’s just meant to show actors collecting large paychecks and having a little bit of fun in the process. It’s as stupid as any Die Hard flick. Great popcorn material.
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