Chewing my keyboard

Sunday, May 23, 2004

More testosterone than a rugby team's shower cubicle...

... and as many tanned, muscular thighs... You could practically smell the dried sweat. Yep, I went to see Troy and although perspiring, hunky guys brandishing pointy objects and grappling with one another might get some ladies drooling at the mouth, I prefer my men with more than one brain cell and there weren't many of those in this feature.

The only remotely intelligent characters were Hector and Odessyus (played by Sean Bean). Odessyus did the 'epic' voiceover at the beginning and end, and if you don't know why I was falling about the cinema with laughter, try delivering lines akin to 'And all of us wonder, will our names echo down the centuries with those of the Gods. Will they remember how bravely we faught, how fiercely we loved' in a flat West Riding accent. Since there were so many changes ('close' male 'friends' replaced by 'cousins', for example), the casting team really should have got rid of the moderately irrelevant character of Ajax. I'm sorry, Ajax might be a Greek hero but I can't take seriously a burly, scarred, shaven-headed bloke carrying a big hammer when he's named after cleaning powder... My mum used to use Ajax powder. And look, Ajax even comes as a cream...

The omission of the Gods (which would have rationalised the religiously/fate motivated decisions) and what appears to be a lack of explanation generally (I am now inspired to read the original Iliad... perhaps I should take up Ancient Greek again and see if I can read it in the original) meant that most of the events didn't seem to have much rational behind them which I suspect wasn't the case in the Greek poem. King Priam seemed like nothing more than a dithering idiot when he didn't even check to see if the boats had left. Given over what a short timespan everything happened, the whole plague business seemed so sudden. Surely SOMEONE would have noticed SOMETHING? I had absolutely no sympathy for Paris and if I'd been Hector I would have dispatched him and Helen back to Menaculus to take terminal responsibility for his actions straight away given the sheer stupidity of the way he behaved throughout. In fact, he was so immature, impulsive and rash at all times that why on earth he was sent as an emissary in the first place really does escape me. Perhaps I'm overly cruel but given the alternative was thousands of deaths, genocide, enslavement and the potential destruction of Troy then maybe not...

Since I was impervious to the lingering shots of Brad Pitt's upper thighs, I was able to concentrate on the deficiencies in tactics displayed during the prolonged warfare sections.

Since I've owned Medieval Total War on the PC I've got very excited about the best application of spearman and the way to deploy cavalry during a siege and may I say the defensive structures and strategy in Troy sucked. If films are supposed to inspire passion then this one did. I wanted to grab a toga, storm through the screen and take charge myself because despite being the world's worst tactician I couldn't have done a worse job. First, by Zeus why was the Temple of Apollo on the beach? Given this was in the Aegean and so naval transport would be important and given it was outside the walls, the temple was pretty much going to get sacked from the word go. Second, the attacking forces had sufficient wood and ropes to build a big horse so why by Jupiter (nope, he was a Roman god) didn't they build a nice mangonel-type thingy or a trebuchet? No, that would evidently be just too much of a good idea... So instead they tried the highly sensible tactic of trying to attack a wall manned by archers by placing infantry with small round shields into a close formation and running them at the wall... And they got defeated... Oooh, big surprise there... Oh yeah, and what exactly did they eat because everything I saw was semi-desert?

And last but not least, acting. Orlando Bloom and Diane Kruger (Helen and Paris... Do you like Paris in the summer? Ho, ho), well, I suppose they could have been acting as if they were having a wild, torrid affair or they could have been discussing the sale of a personal pension plan. Rose Bryne would have been better cast as Helen because she had some character and becoming infatuated with her was something the audience could believe in. Brad Pitt couldn't really do arrogant, sullen and moody either. Brian Cox was over-acting like mad and it was left to Eric Bana as Hector and the occasional appearances of Sean Bean (if you could ignore the accent) to carry the entire film. I had more fun trying to imagine people I knew in the key roles, people who had similar character traits to the ones the Iliad characters were supposed to have. Visualising them in leather skirts grappling with one another; hours of amusement...

In conclusion, I REALLY enjoyed this film. There was so much potential to laugh at it that didn't really exist in LoftR, another macho leather and skirt-fest. That said, if you want to see really big armies marching about having long, drawn-out battle scenes whilst people rant about honour a lot go see Lord of the Rings (they have trebuchets and siege engines). If you want to see big armies being used in an effective, strategic way don't see Lord of the Rings because their idea of a tactic is 'Oh, the enemy have 6 million orcs, we have 5 men... CHARGE!'. If you've seen Lord of the Rings and want to be entertained for a few hours and titter at a character named after floor cleaner (next year: Battle of Hastings the Movie featuring Cif, Pinefresh and Flash Bathroom) then definitely a go see. I didn't waste my £3.70 but rent the DVD.


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