Let me get this out of the way first and foremost. Troy is a good film. Troy Director’s Cut is magnificent. This re-working of the original theatrical cut, including 30 minutes of cut footage, a re-done musical score, and tweaks to timing here and there is a masterpiece. A star studded epic, TDC is not to be missed. The only thing I am disappointed in is waiting so long to see it.
When Hector (Eric Bana) and Paris return to Troy after peace talks with Menelaus, Hector comes to find the Paris has brought the beautiful Helen with them. This sparks a war between the Trojans and the Greeks, the king of whom is Agamemnon (played with brutal relish by Brian Cox). Agamemnon is the brutal counterpart to the peace loving, god fearing king of Troy, Priam (Peter O’ Toole, yes, really).
Agamemnon calls all the kings of Greece under his command to sail for Troy; the Helen incident finally gives Agamemnon an excuse to finally conquer Troy. Odysseus (Sean Bean) convinces Achilles (Brad Pitt) to join in the fight, even thought there is an intense dislike between Achilles and Agamemnon.
The place where this film really shines is that it doesn’t treat one side of the conflict like mustache-twirling villains (with the exception of Brian Cox, who makes it is life’s work to play mustache-twirling villains). While it is actually Paris’s fault this war breaks out, Agamemnon just wanted an excuse to invade. The film shows that there are good men on both sides of the conflict and if you really think about it, there really are no good guys or bad guys. (With the exception of Agamemnon.) Everything here is painted in shades of gray. While you don’t want to see the greedy, evil Agamemnon and his brother Menelaus get the girl, you understand that they have every right to be pissed and start this war. Whether it is just an excuse or not, they have the right to do what they do in invading.
This is where the great Sean Bean as Odysseus shines. He is the human face of the war for the Greeks. He is a good man, that is clear, stuck in a war for a king that he may not admire but is honor bound to follow. He is also the only man that Achilles respects enough to listen to; the only man who can keep Achilles on the leash, as it were. He is also the man who devises the plan for taking the city. (Look to the left to see what plan he devises.)
Brad Pitt as Achilles . . .wow, that really was inspired casting. He has the look of a Greek god, but I am curious as to why this is a movie taking place on the Aegean Sea and everyone speaks with a British accent? Is that the universal accent for anyone not in America? Even Brad Pitt gets in on the accent action, to varying degrees of success. While his accent may not be the best, as Achilles, he does embody the perfection of a warrior in battle. Every time he is in battle it is impossible to take your eyes off him. He is simply stunning.
Eric Bana as Hector, the greatest warrior of the Trojan army, brings a softness to the character. He clearly loves his people and his country and wants nothing more than to protect them. He is a father and a husband, a son and a brother and wants to talk sense into his father, Priam, who is more content to listen to the advice of priests and warmongers than to his son who is a great warrior. This leads to their downfall.
The battle scenes in this film are amazing, rivaling the battle scenes of Lord of the Rings. Whereas LotR wasn’t particularly gory, this film pulls no punches. You see heads lopped off, legs lopped off, essentially the horrors of war and hand to hand combat. It puts you in the thick of battle and you can see how chaotic it can actually become. With that said, they are frenetic action set pieces and amazing to behold.
The video quality on this blu ray is also amazing. It looks as if this film was made yesterday and filmed digitally. It is an amazing transfer.
The sound is also very nice, but could have been better. It really only makes use of the rear channels during the battle scenes, and this tends to be a little muddled. For a film that is half fighting, half drama, this is not a bad mix.
The disc is also LOADED with special features. Hours of them, in fact. I’m not going to go into all the features here, but there is a nice introduction by Wolfgang Peterson (Das Boot, Air Force One) explaining the Director’s Cut.
When all is said and done, Troy Director’s Cut is an amazing work of cinema, and proof that a Director’s Cut of a film can make the film better. A lot of times we get a Director’s Cut and it has once scene added, or the added scenes don’t add up to a better movie. This is the way a Director’s Cut should be, expanding on the world, expanding on the drama, expanding on everything and making a much better film in the process. This gives the characters room to breath and become less one note. This is a masterpiece by one of the great directors. Do not miss this.
Movie **** out of ****
Blu Ray ***1/2 out of ****