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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Epic > Literature > Troy (HD-DVD)

Troy (HD-DVD)


Picture: B-     Sound: B+     Extras: C     Film: C-



Wolfgang Petersen was going to do his Batman/Superman World’s Finest film at first, but took on Troy (2004) instead, making it entry in the big budget historical epic/fantasy cycle.  Not that it had as much fantasy going for it, but it would not have as likely been made without The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy making a mint.  With Brad Pitt on starring as Achilles, Eric Bana (The Hulk, Munich) as Hector, Orlando Bloom (Lord Of The Rings) as Paris and unknown Diane Kruger as Helen Of Troy, the film hoped to score with a younger audience.  They weren’t impressed enough to go.


Based on Homer’s The Iliad, David Benioff’s screenplay is awkward, convoluted, rocky, shaky, sometimes silly and badly paced.  Petersen lets the film get away from him very early, while nothing memorable or interesting tends to result from the very, very long 162 Minutes and the overabundance of digital work makes it more excruciatingly so.  The actors try and the film even boasts great actors like Brian Cox, Julian Glover, Sean Bean, Brendan Gleeson, Julie Christie and Peter O’Toole, but does not use them enough and O’Toole in particular spoke out against Petersen after the film fizzled in his unhappiness.


One of the biggest hoots in the film is the Trojan Horse, as shown on the HD-DVD disc itself.  That looks much better than the final product, which looks like it was made in part by some cheap parts you would more likely find in Fred Sanford’s junkyard than in Ancient Greece.  Also, Kruger is pretty, but not beautiful enough to convince anyone that her face could launch a thousand ships; even digital ones!  She does not even look the part much.  Cathy Lee Crosby is still our favorite, and that was from an episode of Kolchak: The Night Stalker, though Sienna Guillory from a 2003 telefilm on Helen has more of the look.


Furthermore, the editing is often choppy considering the amount of screen time they had.  The film also deals passively with certain issues of homosexuality, which does not get into the trouble Oliver Stone did with his also-problematic Alexander, but Petersen has trouble here with the issue as he had with The Consequence (1977, reviewed elsewhere on this site), though that was a bit more graphic.  All in all, the film is many bits that never add up to the epic tale it would like to and ultimately, the viewer feel like they have been stuck with a Trojan Horse.  Then there are the technical aspects of the disc.


The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image was shot by cinematographer Roger Pratt, B.S.C., in Super 35mm.  His somewhat spotty record includes highs like the better films of Terry Gilliam (Twelve Monkees, Brazil), the more commercial Harry Potter films and disasters like The Avengers.  Part of the problem with this production is the extensive plastering of digital video effects that were lame-on- arrival when the film hit theaters.  The image is messed up here with the outdoors shots looking like half-daylight and indoor shots seeming down a generation in detail and brightness.  What happened?  Either way, you’d think at least some of this would have been an improvement over the 35mm, but all is worse.


The sound is another matter for better and worse.  The film has a rich enough sound mix that Warner has made it one of their rare Dolby TrueHD releases, but it has the later James Horner score that was added at the last minute to make the film more “commercial” and landed accentuating its many problems.  The original score was by Gabriel Yared and it is a shame any mix with his music was not available, because it could have improved the viewing.  Petersen’s films are known for their surrounds and sound design.  Even with a lame music score, this one delivers like The Perfect Storm, reviewed elsewhere on this site in HD.


Extras include a theatrical trailer, four-part previsualization section, 3-D CG animated Gallery Of The Gods section, featurettes on the effects, action sequences and production design, plus the HD-DVD-only optional In–Movie Experience feature where Petersen guides you through the film with audio and extra video.  Needless to say the film was ambitious, but in ultimately implodes under its own weight.  Despite the picture troubles, the sound, extras and how this film did not work will make it a curio HD-DVD for a long while to come.  However, a new edition was released in HD-DVD (to the surprise of many) only a year after this one, which we have covered at this link:





-   Nicholas Sheffo


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