Director Wolfgang Petersen (The Perfect Storm, Air Force One) brings this amazing epic to the big screen with high-profile stars, countless extras and huge settings filmed in Malta, the UK and Morocco…too bad the plot embellishments and creative licenses don’t create a particularly strong experience overall.
You may know the classic tale, but here’s the basic story to get you started… (deep breath) Prince Paris of Troy, played by Orlando Bloom, steals away the Spartan Queen Helen, played by Diane Kruger, which causes a problem because Troy and Sparta just made peace, so the Spartan King appeals to the greedy conqueror of Greece, Agamemnon, played by Brian Cox (X2, The Bourne Identity) to go to war against Troy…(whew).
Paris needs the support of his brother Hector, played by Eric Bana (The Hulk) and his father, Priam, King of Troy, played by Peter O’ Toole, to fend off the invading Greeks. Hector becomes an admirable character due to his leadership, honest heart and defense strategies, but then becomes the most sympathetic character when his wise advice is ignored, which jeopardizes his family.
By the way, Agamemnon owes a lot of his success to a certain warrior named Achilles, played by Brad Pitt. Achilles has a mercenary-like arrangement with Agamemnon but their straining relationship begins to produce conflict that weakens the Greek army. There’s no clear protagonist or antagonist in this story and Achilles further blurs this line with his own personal band of warriors including his cousin who experiences war for the first time. Another famous character, Odysseus, played by Sean Bean (Lord of the Rings, Patriot Games) factors into the story as well.
The romantic elements do add a greater dimension to this war epic, especially scenes between Hector and his wife. The lead male characters all have love to consider during their exploits, even Achilles softens his heart for Briseis, played by Australian actress Rose Byrne, a prominent Trojan woman held prisoner in the Greek war camps.
Prophetic dialogue and some foreshadowing enhance the drama, but the screenplay by David Benioff doesn’t blend well with the original source material from Homer’s The Iliad to make the audience completely lose themselves in the film.
The amazing action, constant battles and important showdowns entertain, but ultimately you are left with the following theme – In war no one wins and “the fighting never ends.” Recommended with reservations (** out of four stars) and rated R for war violence and sexuality/partial nudity.
Copyright © Michael Siebenaler