The following is my entry in The Sword & Sandal Blogathon, being hosted July 8-10, 2016 by Debbie at her blog Moon in Gemini. Click on the above banner, and read bloggers’ critiques of cinema’s odes (reverent and otherwise) to ancient empires!
“You wanna brush up on your Greek, Jamison. Well, get a Greek and brush up on him!” — Groucho Marx to brother Zeppo, in Animal Crackers
Brad Pitt fans, rejoice. If you’re a viewer of Troy, the only person who’s seen more of Pitt than you with this movie is Angelina Jolie.
Ancient-Greek fanatics will also be well served, because the movie doesn’t miss a marker. There’s the facially ship-launching Helen of Troy (Diane Kruger), the surprise Trojan horse, and (spoiler alert here) Achilles’ heel.
And finally, Gladiator fans who have been aching for another rip-roaring movie of bloodletting won’t be disappointed. It’s amazing to find a film that’s rated R almost solely for its violence, but this one has only implied sex and briefly profiled nudity, and no bad language. So if you’re jonesing mainly to watch men bleed and tear off each other’s body parts, this is your movie of the year.
For anyone else, the entertainment value of a movie based on an epic poem by Homer (who doesn’t even get a screen credit here) seems a bit fuzzy. And like it or not, a movie story with such a thin motivation for a war — a namby-pamby Trojan prince (Orlando Bloom) steals the voluptuous Helen from a macho Greek king — had uncomfortable resonations in its particular movie year. (Watch the movie’s final moments, where Greeks topple Troy’s statues, and tell me it doesn’t remind you of some other foreign icons getting smashed to pieces around 2004.)
Sadly, the negative parallels with timely headlines are the only resonances this movie has. Troy is handsomely mounted, but the endless violence is numbing in a two-and-a-half-hour movie. The performances are negligible, save for wondering why vets such as Julie Christie and Peter O’Toole even participated in this mess. And James Horner’s score — mostly plaintive goddesses moaning on the soundtrack — is easily one of his worst.
A final observation: The movie is filled with thousands of warring, macho guys. It has about a half-dozen women, who either cower in the corners or implore their men not to fight. I’d have loved to see just one scene of a Trojan woman kicking her guy out on his keyster and telling him to take an anger-management class.