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The epic tale of the Iliad charting the rise and fall of the ultimate Greek hero, Achilles, explodes onto the screen in this adaptation. The section concerned, follows Paris's betrayal of the king of Sparta, Menelaus, which results in the almighty siege of Troy. The characteristic moment was the sending of the Trojan Horse, to trick the enemy into allowing warriors into the city.
For more about Troy and the Troy Blu-ray release, see Troy Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on January 11, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Brad Pitt, Eric Bana, Orlando Bloom, Diane Kruger, Brian Cox, Sean Bean
Director: Wolfgang Petersen (I)
» See full cast & crew
Troy Blu-ray Review
Troy is perhaps Warner Bros. finest Blu-ray effort to date.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, January 11, 2008
Do you know what's there, waiting beyond that beach? Immortality. Take it. It's yours!
Wolfgang Peterson has long been one of my favorite directors. He's made plenty of fine films such as Das Boot, Enemy Mine, and In the Line of Fire. I consider Das Boot to be his greatest achievement. It's a portrayal of life aboard a German submarine during World War II. It's cramped and dirty, the men are filthy, the actors mostly anonymous, and they fight an enemy they can only hear. Troy is also a war film but in a different setting, and it's almost the complete opposite of Das Boot. The battlefield is wide open, literally a field between the beach and city walls. The men who fight are mostly well groomed and portrayed by several of Hollywood's leading men who frequently appear on the front pages of the supermarket tabloids with legions of screaming and adoring fans. The fighting here, unlike in Das Boot, is up close and personal and often becomes a one-on-one combat scenario amongst heroes. Comparing both films, we see not only the difference in war from one era to another but also the difference in the way movies are made, notably the star-studded cast versus the cast of mostly unknowns and a style that depends on strength of story over pretty faces to sell tickets. Obviously Troy has been, by far, the more successful film financially with the likes of Brad Pitt, Orlando Bloom, and Eric Bana headlining the marquee, but Das Boot is far and away the better film. Make no mistake, Troy is a fine film. It's beautifully crafted and exciting, but it owes much of its success to its stars rather than to Peterson's immense talents.
The story of Troy should be familiar to anyone with even a passing interest in Greek mythology and ancient history. It is a love story at its core and a tale of the great lengths the powerful will go to in the name of pride and honor. The film is based on the story contained in Homer's The Iliad. For a film that is over three hours in length, the plot is surprisingly simple. When the young Trojan prince Paris (Orlando Bloom, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End) falls in love with Helen of Sparta (Diane Kruger, National Treasure: Book of Secrets), he smuggles her home, taking her away from her husband Menelaus (Brendan Gleeson, 28 Days Later), brother of Agamemnon (Brian Cox, The Rookie), King of Sparta. The Spartans decide to besiege the city of Troy in revenge, employing the help of legendary hero Achilles (Brad Pitt, Mr. & Mrs. Smith). Eventually, Achilles and Hector (Eric Bana, Black Hawk Down) will fight to the death after Hector kills Achilles cousin in battle, ultimately leading to the famous "trojan horse" surprise attack on the city.
Troy is one of the more polished films I've seen. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for its costume design. It's slick, clean, and well-crafted. Peterson has created an epic film that is never dull despite its protracted runtime. The film contains highly energetic and engrossing battle scenes that contain a copious amount of bloodshed and demonstrate the brutality of combat in this time period. There are heroes and cowards on both sides; some fight courageously while others cower. For a movie that is bountiful in Hollywood A-list names, each actor is mostly convincing in their roles. Eric Bana is especially good as the stalwart Hector, and Orlando Bloom too is fine in his portrayal of the love struck yet cowardly Paris. Perhaps the weakest link is Pitt. He certainly looks the part of a hero, but I found his performance somewhat bland on the whole. His delivery is mostly deadpan and it's hard to forget he's Brad Pitt. Other actors like Sean Bean (Flightplan), who plays king Odysseus, and the aforementioned Brendan Gleeson are wholly believable and blend in with the film. Perhaps the best thing about watching Troy is, well, watching it. Not so much the movie, but admiring the scale and beauty of Peterson's vision. This is a truly epic film in scope. While not a terrifically well acted or scripted movie, Peterson's direction, the cinematography, the costuming, and the effects are all top notch.
Troy Blu-ray, Video Quality
Troy is of reference quality on Blu-ray. Though it is encoded in the somewhat controversial VC-1 encode that is commonplace only on Warner Brothers Blu-ray discs, this 2.40:1, 1080p high definition image is of stunning beauty. The pristine quality of the image is evidenced as soon as the movie begins. As a single dog walks through a desert field on a bright day, passing a bloody helmet and coming upon a large army, viewers are immediately awestruck by what they are seeing on their displays. The image is very bright with the primary colors being tans, golds, and browns. Blue is another dominant color in the uniforms of the Trojan royalty and, of course, the waters outside of Troy. Each color is reproduced with stunning clarity and lifelike accuracy. The greens of the foliage seen throughout the picture from time to time are also faithfully reproduced. Detail is very high. Characters look strikingly real and their clothing and armor look great; every seam is visible. Black levels are solid with fine shadow detail. Flesh tones are also accurate in appearance. I've reviewed quite a few Warner Brothers titles and this is the best looking of the bunch. I hope that now that Warner is Blu-ray exclusive we will begin to see transfers as stunning as Troy on a regular basis.
Troy Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Nearly as good as the video quality is the PCM uncompressed 5.1 soundtrack that accompanies the film. Finally breaking away from their norm of releasing Blu-ray discs with only a lossy Dolby Digital track, the inclusion of the PCM track hopefully represents a new direction with the Warner Bros. releases. For those of you only with the ability to decode a lossy track, a Dolby Digital 5.1 track is also included, but I urge everyone to start saving up for a player and receiver that can decode lossless and uncompressed audio tracks. The upgrade is stunning. Even my wife, who is by no means an audiophile, noticed the difference immediately when I upgraded. From the outset, the quality of the track is evident. Ambience is incessant as it emanates from the rear speakers as the sounds of birds or of the wind or of the waters create a natural and pleasing atmosphere. Music is represented with deep bass and clear highs and midranges. It sounds great. Dialogue is reproduced as well as can be expected. It is never muffled, unclear, or lost under the music or effects. Of course, the track truly shines during the action sequences. Arrows fly through your listening area with an almost frightening realism. You may find yourself taking cover! The clanging of swords, shields and armor, and the screams and the bass heavy pounding of stampedes of hundreds of men charging a position sounds great. While this isn't quite the hardest hitting and wholly engulfing experience on Blu-ray, this is a very fine track that ranks very highly as one of the better ones Blu-ray has yet to offer.
Troy Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Although the lack of a commentary track is an obvious omission, there are still plenty of supplements to please fans of this film. The supplements begin with an introduction by director Wolfgang Peterson (1080p, 2:30). He discusses having the opportunity to revisit the film without studio pressure to trim down the runtime and violence. Troy In Focus (1080p, 23:09) is an eleven part feature that briefly examines many of the challenges in making the film, including casting, re-creating the weapons of the time, and even dealing with the paparazzi are all discussed.
In the Thick of Battle (1080p windowboxed, 17:12) is a five-part feature that looks at the making of the combat in the film. From Ruins to Reality (1080p windowboxed, 14:00) is a six part feature that showcases the rigors of filming during a hurricane, building sets and props to look realistic to the setting, and the search for external inspirations for the film. Troy: An Effects Odyssey (1080p windowboxed, 10:52), as you may guess, is a seven part look at the making of the effects including making an armada of ships out of two, making a 50,000 man army, and recreating the sounds of swordplay combat. Attacking Troy (1080p, 15:13) is a three part feature that, despite the name, is really a hodgepodge of material ranging from adapting The Iliad to modern times to deciding on the fighting tendencies of each hero to the challenges of flipping a chariot. Greek Ship Towing (1080p, 1:25) is a comedy routine featuring some of the early and crude computer animated effects that served as the basis for the final effects in the film. Finally, the film's theatrical trailer (1080p, 2:07) concludes the presentation of this group of supplements.
One issue I have with the way Warner Brothers presents their extras is that they drag out the description of each extra to make them look much more substantial than they really are. For example, they fill up nearly the entire screen with just information about the Troy In Focus feature. It looks like a plethora of extras, which in reality it is, but when all eleven of them have a combined runtime of just over 23 minutes, it's deceiving.
Troy Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Troy is a pretty good movie that is mostly impressive for it's look and style rather than its take on the tale. The film succeeds as an exciting, action packed epic with excellent direction, choreography, cinematography, costuming, and special effects. It features mixed acting performances, but for the most part they range from "decent" to "good." The film is worth watching for the above mentioned reasons, but it will likely never be shown to serious students of history or literature as it is not completely true to either the book or what we know of the ancient history behind the situation depicted in the film. This Blu-ray disc looks excellent. It's a demo-worthy disc that sports a crystal clear image that ranks among the very best I have ever seen. The PCM audio track is very, very good as well. The supplements are deceptively short and lacking in the depth I was hoping for. On the whole, this is a good movie and a good disc that is worth adding to your Blu-ray collection. Recommended.
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