Troy (2004)

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Released 19-Oct-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-In The Thick Of The Battle
Featurette-From Ruins To Reality
Featurette-Troy: An Effects Odyssey
Featurette-Gallery Of The Gods
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 156:05 (Case: 163)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (82:23)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Wolfgang Petersen
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Julian Glover
Brian Cox
Nathan Jones
Adoni Maropis
Jacob Smith
Brad Pitt
John Shrapnel
Brendan Gleeson
Diane Kruger
Eric Bana
Orlando Bloom
Siri Svegler
Lucie Barat
Case ?
RPI $34.95 Music James Horner
Cynthia Weil


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Greek
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    "timeo Danaos et dona ferentis"

("I fear the Greeks even when they bear gifts")

    Troy should be the sort of movie that I love -- a lavish, sword-and-sandal epic. A real man's movie! Sadly, although there is a great deal to like about it, it's so solemn, pretentious, and impersonal that it fails to emotionally involve the audience with its characters. That said, if you love exciting, epic battle scenes, or summer blockbuster films, or even just seeing an unfairly handsome and buffed Brad Pitt, all sweaty and virtually nude, then read on . . .

    The real story of Troy is tied up in both mythology and history: According to legend, the unfortunate chain of events that led to the Trojan War started at a royal wedding. Many gods attended this wedding, but Eris, the goddess of discord (who was not invited), threw a golden apple marked "for the fairest" on to the wedding banquet. The goddesses Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite each claimed it, and Zeus was asked to decide.

    Cleverly not wanting to get involved, Zeus sent them to a prince named Paris, the son of King Priam of Troy (modern-day Turkey). Each of the goddesses tried to bribe Paris with the promise of wealth and kingdoms, except Aphrodite, the goddess of love, who promised to give Paris the most beautiful woman in the world. Paris awarded the golden apple to Aphrodite.

    There was just one small problem -- the most beautiful woman in the world was already married.

    This woman was Helen (AKA Helen of Troy or "The Face That Launched a Thousand Ships"), a half-mortal daughter of Zeus. Helen was married to King Menelaus of Sparta.

    Paris travelled to Sparta, and Menelaus and Helen welcomed him as a guest. But Aphrodite worked her magic, and while Menelaus was away on a business trip, Helen and Paris eloped. Understandably, Menelaus was furious. Determined to win his wife back, he summoned all the Princes who had previously promised to protect his kingdom and Helen, and they all agreed to help him attack Troy. Menelaus' brother, King Agamemnon of Mycenae, was to lead the attack.

    Along for the ride was the glory-seeking Achilles. When Achilles was a baby his mother had dipped him in the River Styx, which made him invulnerable. While no weapon could pierce his skin, he had one weak spot -- his heel, where his mother had held him while she dipped him.

    What followed was the siege of Troy. After ten long years, and many deaths, the Greeks were ready to give up when the king of Ithaca, Odysseus, came up with a plan: The Greeks built an immense wooden horse (the Trojan Horse), and Greek soldiers hid inside it. After leaving the horse at the gates of Troy, the Greek army sailed away. The Trojans thought the Greeks had given up and had left the horse as a gift, and the horse was brought inside the impenetrable walls of Troy.

    That night, after much celebration, the Trojans were fast asleep and the Greek ships secretly returned. The soldiers in the wooden horse slipped out and opened the city gates, and the Greek army quietly entered Troy. The Trojans awoke to find their city on fire, and many Trojans were massacred in the fighting that followed and many of the Trojan women were subsequently enslaved.

    During the fighting, Odysseus found Helen and returned her to her husband, Menelaus. He told Menelaus that Helen had helped the Greek attack. Believing that Helen was still loyal, Menelaus returned with her to Sparta where they lived happily ever after.

    Interestingly, until the late19th century it was commonly accepted by historians that Troy and the Trojan War were purely fictitious. That was until Heinrich Schliemann began excavating an ancient city in Turkey in 1871. Despite having no formal training, and no education or experience as an archaeologist, and relying entirely on clues from Homer's epic poem, the Iliad, this retired businessman discovered the lost city of Troy, and plenty of its treasure.

    There have been a few attempts to bring Homer's epic story to both the big and small screen with varying degrees of success. For example, as recently as last year there was a reasonably expensive television mini-series production, Helen of Troy. However, Wolfgang Petersen's $US200 million Troy (2004) is without doubt the most lavish and expensive telling of this tale.

    The plot for Troy is described in the film's credits as being "inspired" by the Iliad. In other words, they grabbed the bits they wanted, and the plot to the film  differs greatly. For example, the ending is completely different (I won't give it away). Also, some characters who die in the original story live in the film, and others who survive the original story die in the film.

    Set 3200 years ago, the story begins with King Agamemnon (an excellent Brian Cox) sending the legendary Greek warrior (and truculent prima donna) Achilles (Brad Pitt) into battle, and we marvel at Archilles' amazing fighting ability.

    Meanwhile, the impetuous Paris (Orlando Bloom), Prince of Troy, is seducing the absolutely gorgeous Helen (Diane Kruger), Queen of Sparta. The two elope and travel to Paris' home in Troy. Helen's husband, Menelaus (Brendan Gleeson), is furious, and when his trophy wife is not returned, Menelaus' greedy brother Agamemnon sees his opportunity to expand his empire and gain control of the Aegean Sea.

    A coalition of Greek forces, led by Agamemnon, sail to Troy. A beautifully CGI-rendered and seamlessly composited vast armada of 1000 ships carrying Greek troops land on the shores of Troy and a scene which could be described as "Saving Princess Helen" follows, as Achilles and his soldiers storm the beach under fire from the Trojans.

    During the siege war that follows, Achilles will face the renowned and intense warrior, Hector (Eric Bana), the brother of Paris, the eldest son of King Priam (Peter O'Toole), and the hero of Troy.

    In a side-plot, a love story has been thrown in for Achilles, involving Briseis (Rose Byrne), to soften up his deliberately hard-edged, mercenary image.

    Film is a visual medium, and the original story is very, very long, so I can accept that many changes needed to be made. But in a bizarre move, all of the mythology of the original legend has been removed, and the story is rather presented as a historical epic, and not a mythological tale. I feel this was a great loss. I understand Director Wolfgang Petersen saw the gods as "silly and unnecessary to the plot". But when you consider the popularity of shows like Xena, I think audiences would be more accepting of mythology than Petersen gives them credit for.

    However, for me, the biggest problem with Troy is David Benioff's overly simplified screenplay: He manages to reduce a ten-year war to what appears to feel like just a week or so, he reduces Paris and Helen's romance to dopey teenage "I love yous", and a lot of the dialogue is empty rhetoric, with Achilles barking empty catch-phrases such as "Immortality! Take it! It's yours!". Indeed, the film is so solemn, pretentious, and impersonal that it fails to emotionally involve the audience with the characters. I recall seeing this film at the cinema and not really caring if any of the characters were killed. It's a pity that some of that $US200 million spent on the film couldn't have been spent on a script-doctor.

    The quality of Petersen's direction also varies. On one hand, he brings epic and complex action scenes with awesome set pieces to life with great precision. On the other hand, almost everything in Troy looks and feels fake. Many of the amazing sets and costumes, look like . . . well . . . amazing sets and costumes. Rather than looking like soldiers dragged into a brutal, soul-crushing, ten-year campaign, the men often look like they've just shown up that morning, and had some dirt or dust rubbed onto them. Their weapons don't look used, and the buildings don't look lived in.

    For me, apart from the stunning visuals and the beautifully fluid camera work, the most outstanding thing in Troy is Achilles' fight scenes. Over many months, Brad Pitt was trained by swordsman Steven Ho, and he swings his sword with a poetically elegant and deadly style.

    There is a lot to marvel at in Troy: The eye-popping visuals, seamless CGI-rendered grandeur, and the epic battle scenes, but if the same attention to detail had been applied to the rest of the film, as it has to Pitt's swordplay, Troy might have been a truly classic epic film.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer is magnificent, and close to perfect. As a grand epic film with sweeping vistas, I urge you to watch this film with a projector if you can. The best parts of this film will be completely lost on a small screen. After all, you want to see 1000 ships, not 1000 dots on your screen.

    The transfer is presented in a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.40:1, 16x9 enhanced.

    The sharpness is excellent. Consider, for example, the detail in Paris and Hector's armour at 9:55, or the detailed cityscape of Troy at 29:08. The black level is suburb, with true, deep blacks. The shadow detail is also excellent. For example look at the shadowy scene set below deck at 15:08.

    The colour is excellent throughout. A precise and well-saturated colour palette brings to life the harsh desert hues, as well as the blacks, silvers, and whites of the costumes and armour.

    There are no problems with MPEG artefacts, but some scenes are a little grainy (this of course reflects the source material, and not the transfer). While there are also no problems with aliasing, film-to-video artefacts do appear in the form of a very slight telecine wobble at times, most noticeable during the opening credits.

    Tiny film artefacts appear infrequently throughout, but they are minor and hardly noticeable unless you're looking for them.

    Some scenes did appear to have some slight edge enhancement, but I never found it distracting.

    English, Greek, and English for the Hearing Impaired subtitles are present, and the English subtitles are accurate.

    This is a Dual-Layered disc, with the layer change placed at 82:23. Although it is between scenes, I did notice a slight, clumsy pause.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio on Troy is both immersive and impressive!

    Released theatrically with dts, SDDS, and Dolby Digital audio, the DVD offers only one audio option: English Dolby Digital 5.1. Sadly, this 5.1 track has been encoded at the inferior 384Kb/s, as opposed to 448Kb/s. Considering that there is only one audio track on the DVD (no audio commentaries), I find this pretty slack.

    The dialogue quality is excellent, but at times I did find some of the dialogue a little buried in the audio mix. I imagine that most of the dialogue is looped, yet the audio sync is excellent throughout.

    The musical score is credited to James Horner. Interestingly, the film's original composer, Gabriel Yared's score was dumped and replaced before the film was released, as some thought it was a little "old fashioned". You can still find Yared credited as the composer in some of the film's early trailers. Horner's work seems to be inspired by one of my favourite film composers, Hans Zimmer, and it features both a sweeping orchestral approach as well as a minimalist percussion with ethnic vocal style. I particularly enjoyed the sequences with the latter.

    The surround presence and activity is simply awesome! The surround sound mix is very aggressive, and the rear speakers are used throughout to help carry the score and to provide ambience, such as during the camp scene at 50:30. There are also a lot of directional effects, and panning between speakers, such as when the spear whizzes past Achilles at 7:55, or the rain of arrows at 38:16.

    The subwoofer is also used heavily throughout, and to great effect, for example the horse crashing to the ground at 41:04, or the ominous march of the army at 66:09.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Troy has been released as a two-disc set (which promises a lot of extras), but sadly, the second disc is pretty empty.

    There have been a number of documentaries made about Troy and the Trojan war, such as Troy: Myth or Reality? and the History Channel's Troy: Unearthing the Legend (both available on DVD). Yet, there is no decent documentary included on the second disc. I realise that licensing issues are involved here, but surely they could source (or make) at least one genuine historical documentary?

    Sadly, there are also no audio commentaries included.

    Unless stated otherwise, all extras are presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85, non-16x9 enhanced, with Dolby Digital stereo audio.

Menu

    An animated widescreen menu, with stereo audio.

Featurette-Behind The Scenes-In The Thick Of The Battle (17:14)

    Stunt Director Simon Crane and some of the key cast and crew present some of the weapons used in the film, and how they sought to bring the brutality of Ancient Greek warfare to screen. There is also some behind-the-scenes footage of the battle rehearsals.

Featurette-From Ruins To Reality (14:05)

    Production Designer Nigel Phelps and some of the key cast and crew discuss the creation of the amazing sets, designed to capture the majestic grandeur of Troy. There are a few stills included of paintings, both historic and conceptual, and a look at some of the film's exotic locations, including Malta and Mexico.

Featurette-Troy: An Effects Odyssey (10:58)

    Visual Effects Supervisor Nick Davis discusses the film's very detailed visual effects and CGI work. We see how a few thousand extras became 75,000 soldiers, and how two ships became a fleet of 1000 through the wonders of computers. There are also a few before-and-after shots, showing the brilliance of their compositing work. There is also a brief look at how some of the exciting tracking shots and camera angles were achieved.

Gallery Of The Gods

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85, 16x9 enhanced, with Dolby Digital stereo audio, using one's remote viewers can select and can get a brief background on the mythical gods: Ares, Hephaestus, Dionysus, Artemes, Apollo, Aphrodite, Demeter, Poseidon, Zeus, Hera, Hermes, and Athena. Considering all the gods were cut out of the script, I found this extra a rather strange addition.

Theatrical Trailer (2:01)

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced, with Dolby Digital stereo surround audio.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    It's great to see DVDs increasingly being released simultaneously around the globe, rather than suffering the six-month wait we used to have to endure in R4.

    Troy is being released on DVD in Regions 1, 2, and 4 in October 2004. From the information available to me, all these versions will be identical. However, the R2 and R4 enjoy a PAL transfer (as opposed to the R1's inferior NTSC), and the R4 RRP is cheaper than the R2's when you do the conversion. There might also be a few censorship cuts to the R2 version, but I haven't confirmed this yet.

    So while there's no overwhelming reason to favour any of these versions, I would prefer ours.

Summary

    In a scene during Troy, Odysseus (Sean Bean) recruits Achilles to join the war by telling him: "This war will never be forgotten, nor the warriors who fight in it." While that is very true, the same can't be said of Troy.

    I recall that great film critic Homer Simpson once saying: "Your movie is more boring than church!"  While Troy is an enjoyable epic film, with some grandeur and a lot of excitement, it is rather shallow, and it is weighed down with a number of boring sequences between the exciting set-pieces. This is certainly no Spartacus, Gladiator, or Ben-Hur! Indeed, I don't think either Homer would approve.

    The video quality is excellent.

    The audio quality also excellent.

    The extras are limited, but interesting.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Brandon Robert Vogt (warning: bio hazard)
Thursday, October 21, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using S-Video output
DisplayGrundig Elegance 82-2101 (82cm, 16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSony STR DE-545
SpeakersSony SS-V315 x5; Sony SA-WMS315 subwoofer

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Comments (Add)
Region 1 - REPLY POSTED
Re: Region 1 -
Region 1 - Stimpy (da, what's a bio Ren?)
James Horner - James O REPLY POSTED
Re: James Horner - Simon O'Connor (I wouldn't suggest reading my bio)
No DTS - Rhodes_96 (read my bio)
What is the Bit rate of the Region 1 soundtrack? -
Typical s***ty disc from Warner Bros. -
Achilles already had a love story ! - Bran (my bio, or something very like it)
James Horner -
Drops a coin and listens for the echo on the almost empty second DVD! - BruceM (read my bio)
second disc -
The one Problem with Troy -
Score - Stimpy (da, what's a bio Ren?)
re: Score - Bran (my bio, or something very like it)
Second Disc & Score -
The Gabriel Yared Score -
to Daniel re Gabriel Yared's score - Bran (my bio, or something very like it)
Bran's Enquiry on Score -
Thanks, Daniel ! - Bran (my bio, or something very like it)
Yared's superior score! - Nick (let's get bio!)
Directors Cut -
Director's Cut -