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Troy Review

By Shawn McKenzie 07/18/2004

Just like the recent King Arthur, the oft-told story of the Battle of Troy has never interested me.  As opposed to the tale of the Knights of the Round Table, Troy took some liberties with the original story, and it made it more interesting to me.


King Agamemnon (Brian Cox) of Mycenae and his army have managed to unify Greece under one banner in the 12th century B.C., and Thessaly, located at the northern part of Greece, is the last kingdom in Greece left to conquer.  Instead of having a huge battle which would cause many losses (mostly from the Thessalian army), he and the Thessalian King, Triopas (Julian Glover), agree to let their greatest warriors battle instead.  Agamemnon then has his warrior, the legendary Achilles (Brad Pitt), battle his much larger opponent, the 6’10” Boagrius (Nathan Jones), whom he easily kills.  Achilles doesn’t really have much of an allegiance to Agamemnon and is only looking to make a permanent name for himself for all eternity, which ticks the King off.  He needs to use Achilles again though, because his brother, Menelaus (Brendan Gleeson), wants revenge against the Trojan Prince Paris (Orlando Bloom), who has run off with his wife, Helen of Sparta (Diane Kruger.)  Paris stowed Helen aboard the boat leaving Sparta after he and his warrior brother, Hector (Eric Bana), had just brokered a peace treaty with them.  Hector is mad at what Paris has done once he finds out, but decides to bring her back to Troy with them and protect her.  Agamemnon agrees with King Nestor of Pylos (John Shrapnel) that this revenge angle might be just a good excuse to add Troy to their kingdom.  They send Odysseus (Sean Bean), one of Achilles’ oldest friends, to convince him to join the impending Trojan War.  After consulting his mother, Thetis (Julie Christie), Achilles and his cousin Patroclus (Garrett Hedlund) board one of the famous thousand ships headed for Troy.  Meanwhile, back in Troy, Paris and Hector’s father, King Priam (Peter O’Toole), wants to return Helen, but is eventually convinced that this will not stop the Greeks.  His high priests convince Priam though that Troy will prevail, which is something that Hector doesn’t believe.  Hector leaves his wife Andromache (Saffron Burrows) and their infant son to prepare for war.  Achilles lands at Troy, takes possession of Apollo’s temple, slaughters its high priests, and takes Hector’s cousin Briseis (Rose Byrne) into custody (who later becomes his love interest.)  Paris offers to fight Menelaus one-on-one in lieu of a big war, a la the thing that Agamemnon keeps offering, but wusses out during the battle, and has his brother do his fighting for him.  Achilles prepares to leave after Agamemnon insults him, but decides to stay in the war after something tragic happens to Patroclus.  If you are familiar with the Battle of Troy, the final battle involves a giant wooden horse and Achilles’ heel.


I’m no stickler to the original story since I didn’t care about it in the past, so that the fact that screenwriter David Benioff changed up the story didn’t bother me at all.  The action scenes with Pitt are amazingly filmed and choreographed.  All the other actors play their parts well also, with Bloom proving that he can play a weak character after playing so many strong ones.

Veteran action movie director Wolfgang Petersen has crafted Troy into an entertaining summer flick.  It is a little over two and a half hours, but the action hardly ever stops.  I doubt we are going to see Gladiator Oscar gold, but the alterations to the story and the seamless stunt work and effects make it worth checking out.   If you want a true adaptation, zillions of more boring versions are out there that you can check out at your local video store.

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