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An Epic Thriller/Drama with Expansive Sets and Cast, Rather Lengthy but Great on Blu-ray
on 19 July 2017
'Troy' is a star-studded 'swords and sandals' thriller, with copious attempts at also being dramatic, dating from 2004 and directed by Wolfgang Petersen. I've seen a few of his earlier 'Hollywood' films ('In the Line of Fire', 'Outbreak', 'Air Force One') and found them to be well-made, overt in nature but largely forgettable - the only contradiction to that form is he also responsible for the excellent 'Das Boot', which manages to combine drama and thrills much more effectively.
And so to this film, quoted as being based on the poem 'Iliad' by Ancient Greek Homer, but being much wider in scope as it essentially covers all of the matters arising from the decade-long Trojan War. As I have never read 'Iliad', nor do I have any knowledge of the history related to the Trojan War, whatever controversies are prompted by the content of this film about historical accuracy they were never going to be an issue for me.
Instead, I viewed 'Troy' on Blu-ray purely for it's cinematic entertainment value as an evening's viewing of the 'popcorn' variety of movie - I was not disappointed, but boy do you need the whole evening free if you watch it in it's entirety (the standard UK disc contains only the Director's Cut) as it runs in excess of a bum-numbing 3hrs ! Fans will also be pleased to know that despite that film length, it still manages to look and sound very good in HD and there are a stack-load of disc extras with a running time of over 1hr...!
If you read the Amazon synopsis for this film it gives a good idea about the overall direction of that lengthy story; it also gives you decent insight into the polar-opposite lead cast in terms of screen 'beauty' and (in my opinion !) acting ability/screen presence. With a central Brad Pitt, balancing Orlando Bloom, Diane Kruger and Eric Bana we have the esteemed talents of Brendan Gleeson, Brian Cox and (albeit in an almost soporific state !) Peter O'Toole.
The production-values and battle-scenes in this film are very high and copious/expansive respectively; there is a lot of CGI to depict the respective masses and enormous ancient cities etc. The performances are, unsurprisingly, proficient rather than outstanding and occasionally you might sense the potential use of soft-focus for the various emotional/love scenes - this is a Hollywood blockbuster after all !
Even the standard cut (issued in a few other countries) runs for over 2hrs30mins, so whatever has been added should be acknowledged with that in mind, either way I never really got the sense that any of the scenes were either superfluous or needlessly long - the story, it's timeline and the plot lines (essentially sexual/political shenanigans) were always going to make this a long film; fans of pure action will just have to swallow the periods of reflection, discussion and emotional interaction which help to contribute to that lengthy running-time !
I've attached photos of the case front and back, with all the disc info, as those on the Amazon webpage are devoid of the front legends advertising the extended cut AND the front/back cast/production credits which mine has....
One thing I did find surprising was that the film has a '15' viewing certificate - a lot of 'strong battle violence' there might be, but it never really struck me as being of the '15' variety (ESPECIALLY after recently seeing the '15' certificated 'Deadpool' !!!); blood yes, but no true gore or violence - so some may consider this film (when the overall type of content is also taken into account) more worthy of a '12'...
On Blu-ray everything looks and sounds as good as you would expect of a modern release; the regular periods of energetic action and expansive external sets particularly lend themselves to an HD presentation, which also helps to show-off the decorative armour/buildings etc - even if a lot isn't 'real'. One surprise was the soundtrack is 'only' of the TrueHD variety - however, it still sounded perfectly acceptable to me.
The disc extras, all of the featurette type, are extensive and individually quite short, but they are playable in themed 'chunks' - I've watched a few and they were quite informative and not overly 'promotional' in nature.
So, whilst I cannot comment on (or get distracted by !) historical accuracy matters, overall this film delivered no great surprises in terms of content or presentation as I approached it as a (rather lengthy !) Hollywood blockbuster action type flick. It has well-depicted action, adequate acting performances, very good production-values and a decent HD presentation plus a good collection of disc extras.