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"Troy isn't in Greek, it's in English, but to add to the authenticity, all of the actors speak with fake British accents."




The Masked Reviewer

Well, it's that time of year again.  The time of year for a big epic megafilm, featuring lavish special effects, top-name Hollywood blockbuster actors, and huge epic fight scenes that are epic in their epicness.  The movie is Troy and it's about the battle of Troy, made famous in The Iliad by Homer (NO, not that Homer, you uncultured heathen). 

Wolfgang Petersen is the director, who you may remember from such films as Das Boot (the story of a German who couldn't find his shoe), The Perfect Storm (which, as far as storms go, was pretty good at best), Airforce One (the sequel, Airforce Two, coming to theaters any day now), and Outbreak (it had a monkey, so it had to be good).  Wolfgang Petersen likes big movies, probably because he's compensating for inadequacies in other areas.  The Masked Reviewer's just kidding!  It's a joke!  (Never make fun of Germans)

For women who have been looking for some masturbatory fodder, the film stars Eric Bana (The Hulk), Orlando Bloom (Lord of the Rings) and Brad Pitt (you know who he is). 

The Masked Reviewer won't get into the details of the plot, because of the Masked Reviewer's policy of not spoiling movies...but...come on!  You don't know the story of Troy?  Didn't you ever go to class?  It's amazing, though, that people at the screening apparently didn't.  See, the Greeks decided to make a GIANT WOODEN HORSE at one point, and the people of Troy decided it was a gift to the gods, so they brought it into the city and...well...that became an important element of the plot.  What happens next...HOW DO YOU NOT KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?  People in the audience were surprised at what happened next.  Not everyone (thankfully) but very many more than should have been surprised.  Which leads the Masked Reviewer to think that a) a lot of people are illiterate, and b) the oldest tricks in the book really DO work.  Perhaps the Greeks should have painted a tunnel into the side of a mountain, and then the army of Troy could have been destroyed when they tried to drive their chariots through it.

Anyway, things take place a long time ago in this film (ancient Greece), and the look and feel of the film will undoubtedly remind people of Gladiator.  There's a lot of fighting.  There are big armies.  It also is somewhat reminiscent of Lord of the Rings, visually.  Not only that, but several of the actors (Orlando Bloom and Sean Bean) were in both. 

The movie begins with an ancient map of Greece (and surrounding areas).  Title cards give information about the situation so far: some guy from some place had a problem with a guy from another place, and several long Greek names are flashed on screen.  At this point, you may think to yourself "Huh?"  It's a lot to remember.  But don't worry, you'll know who's who.  The title cards are just there to intimidate and scare you.

Let's turn our attention now to Helen (who you may know as Helen of Troy).  She's played by Diane Kruger, who you probably haven't heard of before.  For those of you who read, you've probably heard Helen referred to as "the face that launched a thousand ships".  Not literally, of course...think how beat up your face would be after pushing just one ship into the water with it.  While Diane Kruger is undoubtedly attractive, she didn't strike the Masked Reviewer as the ultimate beauty, the woman so stunning that men would die for her in an instant.  Then again, she's hot enough that she doesn't have to wear a mask...

The next issue to address is that of language.  Mel Gibson decided to do an entire film in Aramaic to make The Passion of the Christ true to its time period.  Troy isn't in Greek, it's in English, but to add to the authenticity, all of the actors speak with fake British accents.  What's up with that?  Why does speaking with a British accent make anything from ancient times seem more impressive?  Even the people of England didn't speak like that in the time period when the film is set.  The Masked Reviewer's opinion is that people associate British accents with talented actors (Sir Laurence Olivier, John Gielgud, Dudley Moore, etc.) so the film is made more sophisticated by faking the accent.

And here's another point...the battle is between people from Greece, who are called Greeks, and people from Troy, who are called Trojans.  At one point, a guard relays the message that "Helen left with the Trojans!" and there was a lot of dirty snickering in the audience.  Yes, Trojan is a brand of condom.  No, Helen didn't grab all the condoms and leave.  Grow up, people!

Peter O'Toole plays a king in the film.  He's a distinguished and talented actor, but...he looks creepy in this one.  Though he's only in his 70's, he looks like he's been dead for four years.  Sure, it's harsh, but wait until you see him.  Why are his eyes so wide the whole time.  He constantly looks surprised.  Did he have a facelift where the skin was pulled down tight leaving his eyes perpetually pried open?  He give a fine performance, but after a while you just want him to blink.  Blink, damn you!

The music by James Horner sounds very familiar.  Like, you know how occasionally in a preview for a film they'll use music from a different film and you might recognize it?  That sometimes happens because the previews have to run before the post-production is finished and the score hasn't been completed yet.  Well, the music in Troy seems like it was lifted from another movie.  Other people commented on it too, but no one could figure out where it was from.  That may be due to the fact that James Horner likes to re-use thematic elements from his scores, or maybe he just got tired and copied the music from the composer sitting next to him on the bus.  Either way, the music is fine and fits well, but seems re-hashed.

All those things aside, what about the film?  The Masked Reviewer enjoyed it very much.  It's long, probably too long (another two-and-a-half hour marathon), but it seemed smart and relevant.  The movie isn't just about one person or one side; in a huge war, we get to see the motivations of both sides, and neither seems right (or wrong).  The soldiers, the kings, the politicians...each are guided and influenced by events around them, but the decision to do battle isn't simply "revenge", or "this is right".  Nothing is black and white, much like real life.  The reason the soldiers are told they're going to war isn't the real reason; many people understand that, but many don't...nonetheless, the situation is complicated but clearly presented in the film and it's extremely relevant to today's issues...not just about going to war, but about seeing both sides of a conflict.

Another interesting commentary is made by Wolfgang Petersen in his adaptation of The Iliad.  The original poem contains many of the gods as Troy, a few are referred to, but they aren't characters.  The film is humanist in nature, with people being the driving force behind the deeds that occur rather than simply being puppets to the gods.  As a result, the film is deeper in many ways than the original materials.

It'd be easy to overlook Troy, since we've had so many big budget epics in the last few years.  Troy is easily superior to Gladiator in every way, but because people saw Gladiator, they may think of Troy as a multimillion dollar ripoff.  It isn't.  It's got a lot to say about humanity and war and it's worth seeing.  The performances are good (though they're not the highlight) and the effects are fine.  The effects aren't the movie, but rather used effectively to drive home points.  The decisions of some of the characters affect thousands of other people, and you get to see them all, dying on the battlefield.  Troy will probably be panned for being too similar to other films, but it's got a lot more going on than many epics, it's unfortunate that the other films will make this less appealing to moviegoers.  But hey, if you like Brad Pitt or Orlando Bloom or Eric Bana or Brian Cox, you're going to see this movie anyway!


Expectation from the Title: The life story of "The Simpsons" ubiquitous actor who you may remember from such films as "Leper in the Backfield" and "Dial 'M' for Murderessness", Troy McClure.

Mother's Rule (Always Say Something Good About Everything):  Brad Pitt looks fabulous in a miniskirt.

The Pros: Smart, interesting perspective on the war story, not just "right vs. wrong" but a realistic and thoughtful approach to what drives nations to war and how individuals' decisions can affect millions.

The Cons: Kind of long, though it goes by quickly.  A lot of the film may feel familiar in terms of setting and special effects.


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