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Updated ‘Troy’ epic fails to conquer on DVD

Mark Bemenderfer | Monday, January 31, 2005

When Hollywood decides to remake a classic tale, it inevitably runs the risk of offending long-time fans. In some instances, the literature has been around for thousands of years, passed through the generations. Hollywood then picks these tales up and tries to sell the story on its recognition and established fan base. While the resulting epics aren’t usually terrible, they still tend to stray far enough from the principal literature to fans.Such is the case with the movie “Troy,” directed by Wolfgang Petersen. Considered purely as a stand-alone film, disregarding its source as one of Homer’s epic poems, it has all the makings of a terrific summer blockbuster. The cast is full of A-list stars, including Brad Pitt, Eric Bana, Orlando Bloom and Brian Cox, among others. It is action-packed with two great ancient kingdoms fighting each other. And the story itself is quite enjoyable, despite the wooden acting from some of the stars.It’s too bad the story isn’t the same tale originally envisioned by Homer. When one sets the film and the epic poem side by side, the liberties taken in “Troy” become pretty obvious. Certain characters were changed, while others were cut outright from the film story. Key characters to the tale are gone completely, such as the Queen of Troy. Her exclusion wouldn’t bother the average moviegoer. But for fans of Homer’s works, the absence is noticeable.The acting in this epic varies from great to atrocious. For being one of the central characters, Bloom’s performance seems unoriginal and leaves a little to be desired. He played a role too similar to the character he played in “Pirates of the Caribbean,” so people know what to expect. Pitt doesn’t show much range in his role either, although his performance is towards the middle of the spectrum. Diane Kruger’s performance as Helen was also lacking and mediocre at best.The best characters within the movie are the two leaders of the warring factions, the Greeks and the Trojans. King Agamemnon (Cox) and King Priam (Peter O’Toole) are two of the most interesting characters within the movie. O’Toole displays some decent depth as the king of Troy while Brian Cox turns in another decent role as a slimy villain. Bana also did a commendable job as Hector, the tragic hero.The DVD itself isn’t that bad. The audio is quite nice, as is the video. There is a wide gamut of locales within the movie, both in daytime and during night settings. Each of these locales are well represented within the movie and shine due to the superior video quality. It’s pretty much everything you would expect from a summer blockbuster DVD.Unfortunately, that standard of quality does not hold true for the DVD’s extras. The extras are on the light side, to put it nicely. The most immediate, and surprising, omission would be a director or cast commentary track. There are three special features though, basically consisting of making-of documentaries. The oddball of the trio would be the “Gallery of the Gods,” which showcases the Greek gods absent from the film itself.”Troy” is by no means a bad movie, certainly not one that deserved critic Roger Ebert’s Worst Movie of 2004 award. The film was made as a modern version of the Troy legend, true to the heritage while updating it for the times. However, there is still no excuse for the poor acting on the part of such well-paid stars. And as a DVD, the extras hardly make the movie any more enticing.