2004-06-04 / Columnists

MovieScope By Robert Snyder


MovieScope By Robert Snyder

Troy — Pitt Fit As Greek Demigod

Once upon a time, Brad Pitt resembled a young Robert Redford…particularly in the aging pretty-boy actor/director’s  film,  "A River Runs Through It." Now at age 40, Pitt is the star of "Troy" and looking more like Arnold Schwarzenegger in his "Conan, the Barbarian" period.

 A sword-and-sandals epic of the old school and costing a colossal $200 million, "Troy" is an intelligent, though somewhat stiff and humorless presentation of Homer’s classic, "The Iliad." Pitt is the real dynamo here, putting his heart, soul, hair, biceps and buttocks into his portrayal of super warrior, demigod Achilles (he of the heel problem). While all the mostly English and Australian actors are excellent, Pitt defines what it means to be an American movie star… the hubris of which he uses to connect to Achilles’ fame-obsessed personality.

Directed by Wolfgang Petersen, "Troy" starts with nude Achilles being aroused from sleep and two groupies by Greek King Agamemnon (a bombastic Brian Cox) to fight one-on-one with Thessaly’s biggest and "baddest" warrior. The outcome of the contest will determine whether the Greek king will control the Thessalonian Army. Barely awake, Achilles vanquishes the Goliath with a single stroke of his sword. The Greek super fighter hates Agamemnon. So why does he do his bidding? He simply likes to see his name in lights and hear it on everyone’s lips.

Cut to Sparta where its king, Menelaus (Brendan Gleeson), is busy partying after making a truce with long-time enemy, Troy. As the ink is drying on the treaty, Trojan Prince Paris (Orlando Bloom) is making his own intimate alliance with the Spartan ruler’s trophy wife, Helen (Diane Kruger). On the boat back to Troy, Paris reveals to his older brother, Prince Hector (Eric Bana), that Helen is a stowaway. Rather than turn around, troubled Hector takes the beautiful Greek prize to his father, King Priam (Peter O’Toole).

Menelaus’ jealous rage is a welcome relief to his brother Agamemnon, who is seeking an excuse to re-ignite the war with Troy. Before long, Helen’s face has launched the 1,000 ships of legend, which cross the Aegean Sea with soldiers to attack Troy.

The epic’s two and half hours are certainly spectacular, battle-wise. However, those satiated by the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy may be hungry for some less familiar mythology. Is there anyone who doesn’t know the secret of the Trojan Horse?

Still, "Troy" is elevated by superior acting, a flamboyant performance from Pitt and at least one Oscar-caliber scene from the great O’Toole. And, it remains true to its literary roots.

Though a cut above a comic book, the spectacle takes itself dead seriously.  Looks like a job for Monty Python.

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