Swords and sandals abound in this epic tale of love and war starring Brad Pitt as the muscle-bound Achilles. Set in 1193 BC, the film is based on Homer's sprawling epic poem 'The Iliad'. It tells the story of Paris, Prince of Troy (Orlando Bloom), who falls in love with the wife of King Menelaus of Sparta (Brendan Gleeson), the beautiful Helen (Diane Kruger). He persuades her to leave her husband and go back with him to Troy, sparking a war between the Mycenaeans, led by Menelaus's brother Agamemnon (Brian Cox), and the armies of Troy, led by Prince Hector (Eric Bana). The City of Troy, governed by King Priam (Peter O'Toole) has never before succumbed to seige or battle, but Agamemnon and the Mycenae Greeks have a formidable ally: the great and seemingly indomitable Achilles. Political intrigue, passionate love trysts and one-on-one fight sequences take place against a background of sweeping battle scenes as the armies of ancient Greece and the city of Troy engage in their epic and bloody war.
There are many reasons to recommend Troy
as a good ol' fashioned Hollywood epic, especially if you've never read Homer's The Iliad. Dispensing with Greek gods altogether, this earnestly massive production (budgeted at upwards of $200 million) will surely offend historians and devoted students of the classics. But there's politics aplenty in the grand-scale war that erupts when Trojan prince Paris (Orlando Bloom) makes off with Helen (blandly beautiful German model Diane Kruger), wife of Spartan ruler Menelaus (Brendan Gleeson), whose brother, the Greek king Agamemnon (Brian Cox) prods him into enraged retaliation. Greek warrior Achilles (Brad Pitt) brings lethal force to his battles (and there are many of them, mostly impressive), and his Trojan counterpart, Paris's brother Hector (Eric Bana), adds even more buffed-up beefcake to a film so chock-full o' hunks that there's barely room for Peter O'Toole (doing fine work as Trojan king Priam) and even less for Julie Christie, appearing ever-so-briefly as Achilles's melancholy mother. The drama is nearly as arid as the sun-baked locations (Mexico and Malta) that stand in for the Aegean coast, and many critics suggested that Pitt (who valiantly tries to give Achilles some tormented dimension) was simply miscast. But when you consider that Wolfgang Petersen also made The Perfect Storm
, there's nothing wrong with enjoying Troy
as a semi-guilty pleasure with a touch of ancient class. --Jeff Shannon