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

Troy – Directors Cut (HD-DVD)


Picture: A-     Sound: B+     Extras: B     Film: D



After the success of Ridley Scott’s epic film Gladiator in the summer of 2000 something happened in Hollywood… people thought they knew how to make epics again and a trend of really horrible epic films emerged and continue to do so in record numbers.  It wasn’t just Gladiator that set this trend into motion, but also the combination of that, plus the release of Lord of the Rings, which ran near or beyond the 3-hour mark in its runtime, which gave hope again that people could sit for that amount of time in a theater.  So a resurgence of the Hollywood Epic began and audiences everywhere were tortured by these horrible renditions, 2004’s Troy is no exception.  Of course it wasn’t the only bomb that same year as Oliver Stone’s Alexander fell flat on its face as well, not just in numbers, but it was a critical failure as well.  What a shame. 


The shame with Troy is that I wanted to like this film; I mean I really wanted to enjoy it and was hopeful that it would deliver.  I remember hearing early on that the film was going to finally get made and that Wolfgang Peterson’s name was attached to the project, which made me hopeful to some extent.  Then some other big names became attached like Brad Pitt, Eric Bana, Orlando Bloom, Brian Cox, and I became especially intrigued when names like Julie Christie and Peter O’ Toole were attached as well.  This now seemed like a film that would do well and had the cast to certainly deliver just that. 


So what happened?


I only wish I knew!  Unfortunately the film suffers in some seriously significant ways.  I am not a history scholar nor do I have an extensive amount of Greek mythology under my belt, but from what I understand there were some huge mistakes made in the film in accordance with the poem by Homer and some inaccuracies that really didn’t help the continuity of the film, but even looking past those little items the film is still dreadful in just about every sense of the word.  There are several scenes that demonstrate just how poor this film is, and the expressions on Peter O’ Toole’s face throughout the film pretty much sum up the boredom that most will feel while watching this film. 


There are some fairly impressive scenes that do manage to capture some of the scope of the battles and such, but they are hit and miss at times and for the most part only get your attention for a little while before going back into a snooze-fest.  Peter O’ Toole is not the only one who looks bored throughout the film and there are about 30 close-ups of him and his deep blue eyes in the film that after awhile just become comical with how silly this film really is and it’s almost like it never takes itself seriously.  It certainly reminded me of the hokie Bible epics of the 1950’s and 1960’s where they thought that if they dressed up in costume and attempted an accent (and sometimes they didn’t even attempt) that suddenly our disbelief was lifted and we were transcended back in time, but those never worked and neither does this film, not even close.  It’s more ambitious than just about any film of recent, maybe with the exception of Alexander, which suffers from many of the same problems.  Instead of popularizing Greek mythology, these films have trivialized it and brought it to a new low. 


You can read more about the film elsewhere on this site in the theatrical edition HD-DVD released by Warner one year prior to this release. 


This HD-DVD is the “director’s cut”, which most will immediately ask, “Does this cut of the film work better?”  Short answer: yes.  Long answer: not really.   The directors cut of the film includes about 30-minutes worth of material, which puts the film at 196-minutes.  There are a few more scenes of graphic violence; a bit more nudity, and also some further character development, but even these extra minutes cannot keep this train from wrecking.  Director Wolfgang Peterson is certainly ambitious with his Hollywood projects, but more often than not this inevitably derails his films.  In many respects he is still making films that are overshadowed by his claim to fame, Das Boot.  His lowest point aside from Troy would have to be his remake of the Poseidon Adventure, simply called Poseidon, which makes me wonder how he still gets money to make films. 


There is something quite interesting though about the Theatrical Cut and the Director’s Cut HD-DVD’s and I rented the Theatrical Cut to do an A/B comparison just to see if there were differences in the picture or sound department.  Both transfers are 2.40 X 1 anamorphic 1080p, but they are far from equal.  The first major difference that I noticed with the directors cut is a bit more sharpness overall and the detail seemed far more natural and you could see better definition overall. The directors cut HD-DVD seems a bit brighter, more refined, with better color saturation and contrast.  The theatrical cut HD-DVD is darker; less saturated, and has less definition and is not nearly as sharp overall.  It’s amazing how much difference there could be in these two transfers, which could perhaps be due to advancements in the technology over the past year, and if that is any indication of how things are improving, it’s a great sign! 


Audio is not nearly as different and in fact the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 on both HD-DVD discs is nearly identical, if not exact.  It did seem though that the directors cut had a bit more punch and didn’t seem to have near the compression overall with the dialogue coming through the mix a bit smoother.  The mix in general is good, if not really good at times, but the material lends itself quite well for a solid mix with lots of fight sequences and the musical score sweeps around a bit as well.  The films failure surely doesn’t rest in the sound design of the film as it’s constantly engaging and attempt to make the material work as best as it can, but it’s an uphill battle to say the least. 


Aside from this being the director’s cut there is also a video introduction by Wolfgang Peterson and the same features that were on the previous theatrical cut HD-DVD, plus some new featurettes, but does not have the Warner’s In-Movie Experience, which was on the theatrical cut HD-DVD.  For a look at that HD-DVD, try this link:





-   Nate Goss


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