Hollywood's latest historical, violent, armies-meeting-armies megaproduction, Wolfgang Petersen's Troy cannot overcome every pitfall of its overexposed-of-late genre, yet is still a well made, generally entertaining rendition of the Homeric poem that we all read in grade school.
Like Gladiator, the recent The Alamo and, most notably, the Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings films, Troy is built around a series of battle scenes, featuring what seem like thousands of CGI characters, in addition to a few one-on-one battles tossed in for good measure.
Petersen, director of some great movies (Das Boot) and some bad (The Perfect Storm), has made a film that certainly looks great - the action is superlative - with dialogue that is overlong and unconvincing (the Greek gods of the Iliad are talked about, but never seen). With a running time of more than two-and-a-half hours, it certainly could have used more than a little trimming.
Screenwriter David Benioff, who wrote the source novel and screenplay for Spike Lee's The 25th Hour, does not-quite-so-great work here; as Roger Ebert pointed out in his review, people 3,000 years ago didn't use such Sex And The City-isms as, "Last night was a mistake." Indeed, the love story at the center of the film, between Orlando Bloom's Paris and Diane Krueger's Helen, is pretty unconvincing, especially with Paris using every one of the same mannerisms as his character in The Lord Of The Rings.
The film's only really impressive performances are Eric Bana as Hector, Peter O'Toole as Priam, king of Troy, and Brian Cox as Agamemnon. Brad Pitt (Achilles), in his first starring role for nearly four years, is decent, but on autopilot.
With Hollywood, four years after Gladiator, embracing ancient historical epics in a big way, Troy represents a noble, yet flawed, contribution to the genre. How will it be remembered? Probably by school kids, renting the DVD, in lieu of reading The Iliad, and failing their subsequent tests.