on 25 March 2008
Troy (Director's Cut) is so much better than the theatrical version that it is almost hard to believe that they are in essence the same movie. That is not to say that this new version is perfect, it isn't. As with the Theatrical version, the acting is in some instances passable at best and it takes quite a few liberties with the accepted version of events according to Homer. However, what it does do is make the film run far more smoothly than it did before. Considering over 30 minutes of footage has been restored it actually seems to make the film a lot tighter than it was before. The rather disjointed, lacking in focus theatrical version is now replaced with a movie that always keeps you engrossed. Not just in the battle scenes which are really quite brilliant but also in the political intrigues and infighting amongst both the Greeks and the Trojans. Brad Pitt always seems to divide people as to his worth as an actor. I happen to think he is actually quite good. In Troy he is the leading man and he does a good job of holding the film together. According to Homer, Achilles was the most beautiful and the deadliest warrior of his age. Pitt is undoubtedly in excellent physical condition but he also manages to convey Achilles coldness and mastery of arms. His Achilles is a killing machine who cares for almost nothing but his own personal glory. He knows what his alternative futures are before he sails to Troy, but he would rather die young covered in glory than live to be old surrounded by love. There is a vacant look in Achilles eyes almost as though he is aware of everything that is happening around him but doesn't really care as long as it does not seem to personally affect him. However, in war, every action has a knock on effect and Achilles discovers this to his own personal loss. Achilles is not an easy role to take on, but Pitt does it well and he makes Troy a better film because of it.
On a side note, why do film companies continue to keep on ripping off the average punter who buys DVD's. If you are a film fan you are always going to want to see exactly what the director wanted to show in the first place. I can accept that for the theatre sometimes you have to trim the film down a little to make it a more palatable running time for people to be prepared to go and see or in some cases to cut down on some of the director's wilder excesses. But surely when they release the DVD they could make both the theatrical and the director's version available at the same time or on the same package. After all it's not like the footage isn't already available. Too many times I have come across extended additions and director's cuts, mere months after they have released the theatrical version. I know it's too much to hope for that they will stop ripping us off, but I would just like them to know that it's pretty poor show from them.
As a teacher of Classical Greek and Roman Mythology I was looking forward to "Troy." In the past I have put together a unit on the Trojan War that included not only Homer's epic poem the "Iliad," but also the plays of Euripides and Aeschylus and other ancient works on the stories of these characters. In other words I am familiar with this story to the extent that when Briseis showed up wearing a garment with long sleeves I was upset that we did not get to see the lovely arms that were part of her usual epithet. So, suffice it to say, that when characters who survived the Trojan War started dying in this film, I was not exactly happy. Consequently, the truth is that the less you know about the Trojan War of classical mythology, the more you will enjoy Wolfgang Petersen's "Troy."
I have no problem with the idea that Homer and the other ancients have to be adapted in making a modern motion picture about the Trojan War. The decision to eliminate the gods is appropriate, getting away from the idea that this was a ten year war makes sense, and if the alliance of the Greeks is now political rather than as part of an oath sworn by the princes who were suitors for Helen's hand, I consider that to be legitimate. I do not understand why Iphigenia, Cassandra, and Hecuba are all eliminated but there are not fatal omissions. But when you start rewriting who gets killed that is going a bit too far, especially when one premature death starts a chain effect that means Athens will never develop the jury system, which means we probably lose out on it too. David Benioff's screenplay was "inspired" by Homer's "Iliad," which at least is an honest way to characterize what he did in this script, but I still do not have to like it or endorse it.
The big selling point for this film was not Homer but rather Brad Pitt as Achilles. Stories abound about how Pitt worked six months to get in shape for this film, gave up smoking, and ended up hurting his Achilles tendon in one of those profound ironies that indicates that maybe the gods were not pleased with what was happening in this film. Pitt certainly looks good, not just in terms of taking several opportunities to display the line of his nude body, but in how he carries himself as Achilles. The whole idea is that this guy is the greatest warrior on the face of the planet and Pitt exudes that with the way he strides across the sands of Troy. Even more impressive is the choreography for the fights, because Pitt's movements are so smooth and powerful, especially compared with that of Eric Bana's Hector, that you do not doubt that this guy is in a league by himself as a warrior. I also like the way he uses the distinctive form of his shield when fighting. They thought this part out quite a bit.
The fight choreography was worked out by Simon Crane, the film's stunt coordinator and second unit director, who describes Achilles as fighting with a boxing style but with the velocity of a speed skater and the agility of a panther. They also come up with a nice touch in that Achilles looks slightly to the side at his opponent until he is ready to come in for the kill. The best fight sequences of "Troy" are when Achilles is fighting. The giant battle sequences of computerized soldiers are not as impressive, mainly because the camera is always in motion and the cutting is so fast that we are left with an impression of the battle rather than always being able to tell what is going on (which has become my constant complaint with most movies with large battle sequences).
Bana does a good job of capturing Hector's nobility without turning him into a marble statue, while Peter O'Toole fills the role of Priam naturally. On the Trojan side the problematic character is Paris (Orlando Bloom), again because of the writing more than the performance. Priam has negotiated peace between Troy and the Sparta of King Menelaus (Brendan Gleeson), but that is destroyed when Paris persuades Helen (Diane Kruger) to run away with him. Both Hector and Priam know that Paris is wrong and their reasons for supporting him and thereby dooming Troy ring hollow (the less than stellar "Helen of Troy" television miniseries did a nice job of providing a solid motivation for the Trojans to protect Helen).
It you want to draw a clear distinction between Homer's story of Achilles and that of Benioff it is that the former is about the rage of Achilles (see the first line of the "Iliad") and the latter adds an equally strong love element. The one character whose role is most inflated in this version is that of Briseis (Rose Byrne), the Trojan slave girl who comes between Achilles and Agamemnon (Brian Cox), the king of kings for the Greeks. This change becomes the reasoning behind how the film rewrites the end game of the Trojan War, although I still do not understand why some of the key characters get to live happily ever after. But since Pitt's performance dominates the film and he is clearly the horse that director Wolfgang Petersen is riding to make the whole thing work, it makes sense that he has to be around until the very end.
The good news is that when I teach mythology after this DVD comes out my students will probably enjoy attacking Benioff's changes in the original stories of Greek mythology in their papers. I think this will definitely help them understand why the writings of Homer and the other ancients are considered classics.
The new director's cut of Troy might at over 3 hours be rather long to have been sitting in a cinema, but for home theatre, this is now finally the movie punters wished it could be when it first came out. The extra scenes - a mixture of character moments and action scenes, truly change it from a bit of a muddle, to something approaching classic status.
The battle scenes add little, but the character scenes change and explain the dynamics of the characters, in particular Sean Bean's Odysseus, and the tension between King Agamemnon and Achilles.
There is still a problem with the casting... no-one really looks that comfortable in their roles, neither Eric Bana, Brad Pitt and certainly not Orlando Bloom. Only Peter O'Toole really fits the part, at least as much of a part as he is given. Diane Kruger looks pretty, but whether it is the script, or her acting, it is difficult to say - but she never quite seems worth putting a thousand ships to sea for.
That aside, the battle scenes are visceral, and if this movie added anything new, it was the mano-a-mano battles with Achilles, which are terrifically well choreographed to make you really believe in his invincibility.
Extras are prolific - I gave up before I managed to exhaust all the topics, which are conveniently arranged in segments a few minutes long, so you can either watch all together or search for just the parts which interest.
A worthy package which goes some way to restoring the reputation of this previously maligned movie.
on 15 October 2007
What a let down the original movie was,slow, ponderous,shallow and completely forgettable.
I'm very much a fan of historical epics and my expectations of troy were high,particularly with the cast and crew they had on board.It was however a complete let down and seemed a view shared by many people i spoke to who had watched the movie.The score was dreadful,the characters were lacking in exposition and cause,the mtv style editing,particularly of the battle scenes was a mess ,i could go on and on but now i don't need to.
This new version is terrific,its like watching a new movie,the additional 30 minutes have added so much more to the film,character development is improved,the film feels epic,the new musical score fits in like a dream and the extended fight scenes of which there are many,all do justice to wolfgang petersen's desire to produce this new cut.
I can't praise it enough and if you had doubts over the original movie,then buy this,it really is worth having.
A 5 star recommendation.
on 18 February 2008
I'm going to go against the general trend of reviews here and say that, in my humble opinion, this Director's Cut is a huge dissapointment - in addition to that, and perhaps worse, it has massacred my memories of the original film.
I'm a sucker for extended editions of anything, and I've been lucky so far (Lord of the Rings, Kingdom of Heaven), but now that I think about it, I never had a problem with the original version of "Troy" in the first place, so why did I go and purchase this one?
I was swayed by the reviews, I'll admit, but I was also interested in hearing what the new music edit sounded like. To be fair, the visuals and dialogue of the extended scenes in this version are not the problem: it's the music, which carries the tone and emotion of the story.
I've become a lover of film music, and James Horner's "Troy" score was the 2nd one I ever bought (following Howard Shore's "The Two Towers"). Over time, I've found that it is not the strongest score out there, but it has an operatic structure to it, which I always love, and it is able to support the film excellently.
As I said, the new scenes in this version are good: they reveal more character and plot development, but the music edit is atrocious and, for me, spoils the entire picture. The score is the heart, soul and wings of the film, and something strange has been done here that doesn't gel.
All of Tanja Tzarovska's keening that so well encapsulated the spirit of Greek tragedy and that actually convinced James Horner to score the film, has been removed (although the singer does have a cameo in this version). Nearly all of Horner's score from after the Death of Patroclus has been removed and replaced with music from earlier scenes. Josh Groban's strong rendition of "Remember" is also gone!
This may not sound like it makes much difference, but the whole mood of the scenes is altered. They've even had the audacity to edit Edward Shearmur's incidental music from "The Count of Monte Cristo" into the scene where Achilles and Patroclus are training in sword-play.
The Death of Hector is now more brutal and brash than tragic, the arrival of the Trojan Horse is seen as a good thing (celebratory music is played) and the sacking of Troy is just a mass of remixes of the music from the first battle with the Greeks. That is the true tragedy of it!
The Special Features are no different to that on the original 2-disc edition, and I would rather recommend that version to anyone who loved Horner's score and does not want to see it destroyed by some over-zealous music editor: I just feel that sacrificing a perfectly good film score for 30-minutes of extended footage is not worth it. If, however, you don't mind second-rate film music, then get this version and see it for what it's worth.
on 19 November 2005
Troy, like a lot of historical movies with many action sequences, rewards a second viewing. We all know Wolfgang Petersen, like many movie-makers before him, took many liberties with Homer's Iliad but I am happy for myths like this to succumb to the hollywood treatment.
Interestingly, Petersen opts to give us the siege of Troy through Achilles' eyes rather than the classical Helen/Paris scenario, as it opens up the prospects for this big action movie. Achilles was the Rambo of the ancient world, but while Rambo goes on for ever, Achilles, alas, proved to be just mortal in the end. If you view Achilles in that light, you feel less inclined to criticise Pitt for his performance. He was a fighting machine who disliked the squabbling Greeks as much as he did the Trojans, but in the end he had to settle for the lesser of two evils in deciding where his loyalties lay. The pace of the movie, which sustains two romances, gives Pitt little opportunity to do much else other than fight, whilst Eric Bana as Hector at least has more to philosophise over in the shape of his brother Paris' problems, as well as defending Troy itself.
Petersen cleverly presents the opulence and decadence of Troy as opposed to the spartan Greeks and their ambitious plans to topple it. Helen of Troy was no more than a pawn, an excuse to invade Troy, and though Bloom works hard as the cowardly womaniser Paris, he comes over as the spoilt useless younger brother of the more commanding Hector. Diane Kruger, too, has little to do except look gorgeous, and fails to grasp that the invasion is only superficially about herself.
The beautiful photography and endless beauty of the calm Mediterranean contrasts sharply with the terrible unfolding violence, and we are treated to endless shots of the body beautiful, Mr Pitt himself who disrobes more regularly than the ladies. Not that I'm complaining!
The finale, when the invaders leave the safety of the Trojan horse and the city falls, is magnificently filmed, and one is left wondering: even if this never happened, it surely is one of the most entertaining stories ever told. It might not be perfect, perhaps the characters could have been fleshed out a little more, but one can't sit in a movie all day long, and in the end film-makers have to learn the art of compression probably more than any other media.
Troy was supposed to be the blockbuster of 2004. It had the cast, the scenery, the magnificent sets, the special effects and the costumes, but for me it did not come together.
There are several reasons for this, starting with the most obvious, where are the Gods? This story is supposed to tell us what happens when the Gods meddle with the affairs of men. Paris was promised the most beautiful woman in the world for judging the Goddess Aphrodite to be fairer than either Hera or Athena. This obviously, is Helen who was already married to Menelaus the King of Sparta, who in turn is brother to the insanely ambitious Agamemnon. None of this back story is presented or even hinted at.
Some of the casting in this film is superb, Brian Cox is a convincingly brutal Agamemnon, but we are not told what a monster he truly is (he sacrificed his young daughter to gain the God's favour). Hector Bana is a noble and convincing Hector.Sean Bean is an equally convincing Odysseus, Brad Pitt looks superb but sounds as if he is reading a telephone directory, whilst the chemistry between Orlando Bloom and Diane Kruger is totally non-existent, in fact you will see more chemistry in a plate of cold custard and rhubarb than between these two.
The photography, the settings and the special effects are all very good, but as stated, some of the acting is awful. Another dreadful thing is the way Paris is portrayed as a whimpering coward who survives at the cost of his brother's life. Paris may have the judgement of an idiot but he was not a coward, nor did he survive to go after Helen, which the film implies he did.
All in all this is a curate's egg of a film, good in parts awful in others. If you want to see a better version of this story then rent or buy Helen of Troy, it is truer to the original and has excellent performances and a better script.
on 7 June 2009
If like myself, you avidly read reviews before buying any blu-ray disc, you will want to know about the quality of the blu-ray transfer. With regards to this particular blu-ray, I must say 'Troy' was superb. I would recommend this blu-ray to anyone who wants to experience the very best in high definition picture quality.
on 30 October 2007
Although i liked the version that we saw at the cinema there was something missing.
After buying and watching this dvd it is a travesty that this was not allowed to be seen at the cinema/
The whole film has a completion to it. New scenes, more character understanding, this is a must for anyone who thought the cinema version was not quite good.
on 10 October 2007
Added story, added action , added characters, added music and the result a far better film. Troy the director's cut is much better than the one we all saw on the big screen the story is more vast and with this adds more character depth. The music has been re-edited taking out the more boring pieces and loud parts to add more of a closer feel to the story even though at times i feel James Horner still could have done better in certian sections.
All in all a better movie by far 8/10