Wednesday, July 18, 2012

"Troy" movie review

Achilles lives with the ease of someone that knows his place in the world, and his place is at the side of death. He is history's greatest warrior. In the Iliad, Homer frequently decorates Achilles' name with an honorific - "godlike Achilles" or "brilliant Achilles". The epithets become part of his name. 

Achilles is the virtuoso of warfare, its Michael Jordan, Shakespeare, and Beethoven. Like any young virtuoso, Achilles is self-centered and petulant. He shuns duty and discipline. But he does have fierce love for his comrades, mistresses, and friends. It is hard to love him or to hate him.

I had low expectations before watching "Troy" - Hollywoods high-budget attempt to adapt the Iliad to the big screen. Indeed, the purists will be frustrated. Major themes from the Iliad are completely missing. Deathless Greek heros of legend are killed off. 

But where the movie shines is in Brad Pitt's portrayal of Achilles. The audience is privileged with plenty of face time with literature's first and greatest bad boy. In the portrayal of Achilles and his clash with authority, represented by a burly King Agamemnon, the charm of the Iliad shines through. This is not a replacement for the Iliad, but it is delicious accompaniment. 

By condensing the epic of the Iliad to a smaller, more human narrative following Achilles, Troy succeeds where unlimited ambition may have failed. 

The special effects look notably dated in a post-300, post-Immortals world. I was dissapointed by the lack of the Gods - the Gods look so amazing in Immortals. I suspect they were left out for the practical reasons of budget and execution risk. Again, by staying modest in scope, Troy is able to execute well. 

I give it four stars. 

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