Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Troy is an incredibly mediocre film. It neither offends nor inspires. Instead it leaves you feeling like an opportunity's been wasted – the money is there, but the will and the talent are sadly missing.

Apart from the leaden script and nondescript direction, the film's main deficiency is Orlando Bloom. The man has always been a hopeless actor, but here he plumbs new depths, turning in a performance that is based entirely on puppy eyes, simpering looks and flat line delivery. The man is wholly incapable of emoting. Although, to be fair, he is lumbered with a near impossible part – the snivelling Paris. Even the most talented actor would have a hard time bringing such a wretched person to life. But seeing as Bloom is among the least talented actors in Hollywood, it makes the character all the more unbearable.

The most infuriating thing about Paris is the way he stumbles through the story, causing nothing but trouble, and yet he ends up killing the mighty Achilles and smelling of roses. Perhaps in more talented hands, this would have been fine, but here it makes you question why you watched the film. This pathetic loser condemns thousands of people to death (including his brother and father) so that a blonde strumpet can play with his winkie. Brilliant.

It's hard to pick a single scene that had me baying for Paris' blood (there are so many), but his most cowardly act comes during his fight with Menelaus (Brendan Gleeson). He's meant to fight to the death, ignorantly thinking that this skirmish will prevent further bloodshed. But even with his honour and the lives of his countrymen at stake, he runs away like a big baby and hides behind his brother. What a pathetic excuse for a human being. I share Menelaus' outrage when he exclaims to Helen that this is what she left him for.

And the scenes between Paris and Helen are nauseating. The two actors have zero chemistry and both have the screen presence of a couple of fruit flies. Do we care about their all-consuming love? Of course not. It's played like a couple of kids who have just discovered that their genitals are there for more than secreting waste material.

And speaking of Helen, isn't she supposed to be the most beautiful woman in the world? Instead we get your average foreign starlet with too much mascara and a larger than average schnoz. Sure any man in his right mind would tap it, but start a war over her? Forget about it.

In fact, a lot of the guys in the film are just as pretty as Helen. Just take the numerous ass shots we get of Brad Pitt. Then you have Achilles' cousin. He's your typical blonde-haired dreamboat. And is it any wonder that the only thing that truly enrages Achilles is the death of his beloved cousin, a cousin who he frequently engages in some light-hearted sword fighting with? But even though the film fetishes the male form (as well as a zillion shots of Pitt's toned butt, we also get to see an oiled Orlando Bloom – he's completely hairless of course), it's strictly a torso and arse film – no tits or willies.

But while the film fails spectacularly in terms of romance, character development and inter-personal relationships, it succeeds when it comes to action. The fight between Hector and Achilles, in particular, is superb. With lots of close contact and athleticism, it thankfully resists the urge to become overly fanciful. Instead you get something that feels pure and believable.

Another excellent fight scene is the one between Hector and Ajax. Again things are kept simple and the sequence benefits from it. I also enjoyed the fight between Paris and Menelaus – the camera in the helmet is an excellent way of generating fear and claustrophobia – but unfortunately its somewhat spoiled by Paris' cowardly actions. As is the final sequence where Achilles is slain. Here you have a character you're finally starting to like and he's cut down by a skinny imbecile with a bad curly haircut.

That reminds me, what's up with the haircuts in this film? All the men seem to have these weird semi-mullets – Sean Bean, Eric Bana and Orlando Bloom especially. And then you have Brian Cox and Brendan Gleeson who seem to have acquired Gary Oldman's bizarre tit-head hairstyle from Francis Ford Coppola's version of Dracula. It's actually rather distracting – I spent a lot of time looking at people's heads; the haircuts here are worse than the ones you see on the average football pitch.

But as bad as his haircut is, I did enjoy Brian Cox in this film. Sure he's hammier than a ham sandwich, but at least he seems to be having some fun with it. I also think that Eric Bana is pretty damn good – the film suffers badly when his character dies; Hector is the heart and soul of the movie. However, I think Pitt's performance is less successful. He's great in the action scenes, but everywhere else he seems out of place.

However, I like the idea of Achilles being a celebrity, a man who wants to further his own image at the expense of everything else. But as it is, this element of the story, like all the other ideas, isn't developed enough. The film aims low and scores small.

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