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
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
Another interesting commentary is made by Wolfgang Petersen in his
adaptation of The Iliad. The original poem contains many of
the gods as characters...in 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
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.