Wolfgang Petersen’s Troy tells the famous story based on the poem ‘The Iliad’ by poet Homer. The film recounts the struggle between the Greeks and the Trojans. The Trojan War has quickly begun after young and beautiful Helen (Diane Kruger) is seduced by Paris (Orlando Bloom) while he is on a peace mission to Sparta. Obviously Helen’s husband, Menelaus (Brendan Gleeson) is annoyed by this as is Paris’ older, wiser brother Hector (Eric Bana). Paris eventually wins Helen’s heart and sneaks her away from her husba…d back to Troy. Here Helen is declared to be a queen.
Menelaus is naturally furious about this and demands that Agamemnon, King of Mycenae, take ships and men (1,000 ships and about 50,000 men) to bring her back. Here is where the fun begins as the Trojans refuse to give up their new queen. As history tells us the Greeks would lay siege to Troy for nearly ten years. Where poet Homer’s ‘The Iliad’ picks up is around the tenth and final year of the struggle.
The acting in Troy, especially on the part of Peter O’Toole and Brian Cox, is great. O’Toole, playing King Priam of Troy here, is powerful and commanding in a manner that demands his people (citizens and the audience of the film in this case) pay full attention to every syllable uttered from his mouth. Cox is angry, rightfully so, and cries for attention, all of which he gets from us. The other actors present here, the ‘ever so cute’ (not sure why people say this) Orlando Bloom as Paris is whiny, cries way too much and runs back to daddy and big brother way too often to be taken serious. Brad Pitt, as Achilles, was fine yet never seemed to be completely engrossed in the picture. He acted correctly when he needed to, but seemed to lack that spark he usually has in his roles (Yes, I said it. Brad Pitt is a good actor). Diane Kruger, as Helen of Troy, has been put in this role to attract males to the theater as Pitt was to attract females. And the plan has worked as she is ever so beautiful in this role. Her acting, well that’s a completely different story here. Similar to Pitt here, Kruger never develops herself into the character of Helen.
Unfortunately, Eric Bana’s performance as Hector, which was one of the best performances in the film (minus Cox and O’Toole), was never given enough screen time. Whenever someone mentions the story of Troy, most think of Achilles and Hector. While Pitt was obviously given enough credit for the role (including cover rights), Bana is not given the amount of screen time he deserves to develop his character into that ever so famous Hector. Granted the time he does have on screen is great, almost perfect, I just wanted more character and development here.
In the end, Wolfgang Petersen has done a fine job retelling this story. There are some scenes of horror (mostly the scenes of the cowering Bloom and the dull Kruger sitting their speechless and emotionless), but those negatives are taken away by the grand landscapes and impressive acting by Bana, Cox, and O’Toole. Yes, Troy is definitely not for everyone, but is definitely worth renting on a long night simply for the lush visuals and great acting.
Troy makes its HD-DVD debut in a glorious, almost conquering 1080p 2:40:1 anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio. Warner has impressed us before with Good Night and Good Luck, a newer film, and The Searchers, an older film. Again, due to Troy being a newer film, the print is pristine. Colors, for the most part, are bright, crisp, clear, and rich, creating a type of new world for our eyes. One of the film’s most impressive scenes comes via the initial invasion where numerous ships are traveling across the sea. Granted this sea was obviously created using CGI effects, I wondered if Petersen actually used real ships after watching this sea. The level of detail was immaculate and intense; little things like flags, ripples in the water, pores on Pitt’s face, stubble on Bana’s face, and Kruger’s always beautiful face were brought to a new level here. Flaws were hard to find, but there were a few scenes where the colors and images appeared to be over saturated.
I especially enjoyed that Warner ridded this print of nearly all grain and pixilation that somewhat plagued the SD-DVD release. Warner continues to impress me on the HD-DVD front. Troy continues down the seemingly never-ending road of success that WB is creating for itself and, more importantly, for the HD-DVD format.
Finally, another film gets the Dolby TrueHD audio track. Also included are the standard Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 (in English, French, & Spanish) audio tracks. I decided to compare a few scenes first with the Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 and then with the included Dolby TrueHD audio tracks. The particular scenes in questions where were Hector fights Patroclus (chapter 22 or 23) and the scene where Hector fights Achilles (chapter 33). The first scene was very impressive with the Plus 5.1 creating an enveloping experience in my living room. Swords clashed, rulers yelled all while creating a scene of true emotion as two people fought to the death. The same scene with Dolby TrueHD sounded incredible. Dynamics were presented in a more respectful manner as I could hear soldiers cheering and jeering in the background as they hoped a particular person would win. Surrounds, in particular, were full and rich as shields hit and swords banged creating a pleasant ringing in my ear.
The next scene in question, a scene of particular demo material, was chapter 33 where Achilles and Hector fight. The first run through with Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 was very similar to the first example. Surrounds were present, but not as clear and impressive as they could have been. One note of error I heard was a type of buzzing effect after Achilles launched himself and his weapon at Hector’s shield. Maybe this was my speaker failing (I’m inclined to think not as the Dolby TrueHD did not create this). Speaking of the Dolby TrueHD comparison, I was quite impressed once again. Warner was very smart to include this on this release of Troy Similar to the above experience, everything was richer and had a more powerful realistic type feeling to it. As Achilles and Hector fought, I imagined myself there as the surrounds created such an experience that my brother wondering what I was watching (and his room is on the other side of the house). And this was only with my receiver at 40%.
I personally do hope that Warner reads this review and many other reviews on this Troy HD-DVD release in time for the T3 release. The included Dolby TrueHD literally gives the film a new feeling and does create a new experience. It would be a true shame if the rumors flying around about T3’s lack of a Dolby TrueHD track are finalized. Warner continues to knock films out of the park and Troy is no exception in the audio department.
- In The Thick of Battle: This feature goes over the film’s various action sequences.
- From Ruins To Reality: This feature informs us of the discovery of the ancient ruins of Troy itself.
- Troy: An Effects Odyssey: Here we learn about the film’s various visual effects
- Gallery of the Gods: This was a pretty cool feature. We get a 3-D tour of Mount Olympus and all the twelve different gods.
- Pre-Visualizations: This brief minute and twenty second clip shows us how some scenes were conceptualized before being created.
- Trailer: The film’s theatrical trailer.
- IME: In-Movie Experience: The touting feature of HD-DVD returns for another round. Here Director Wolfgang Petersen tells everything and more we could want to know about the film from the casting, creation, direction, score and effects. If you’ve seen the film before, the best bet would be to watch the film this time around with this feature enabled. Highly-interesting.
Warner Brothers has delivered a first-rate package for a second or third rate film. Everyone won’t like Troy, but I was able to ignore the small negatives and have a great time. Boasting a new reference A/V experience, with an extremely informative IME experience, Warner has put together another great package. After all, “Veni, Vidi, Vici”. This HD-DVD release of Troy> came, it saw the competition, and it surely conquered all.
Special Features List
- In The Thick of Battle
- From Ruins To Reality
- Troy: An Effects Odyssey
- Gallery of the Gods
- IME: In-Movie Experience