Friday, May 21, 2004

Yay! We're back. I went through withdrawal the first day. Unused to so much technology. Missed the sand beneath my feet, and the wind in my hair. The sound of the shore. But, I also missed certain things, which is why we went to see Troy immediately.


If I had to sum up Troy in a word it would be bleagh. Thoroughly unengaging, it was the kind of summer film filled with "moments" instead of characters, where everything that wasn't a fight scene seemed in a hurry itself to get to a fight scene because it knew it was boring. You could invent a drinking game with the frequency of "one-liners" dropped by the various characters, most of which already came out in the trailer so there weren't any genuine surprises or keepers. I mean, "Immortality! Take it! It's YOURS!" just reminds me of Captain Planet, and anything that reminds me of Captain Planet can't be a good thing. I had to keep reminding myself that it was inspired by The Iliad and not a direct adaptation, because it was just that bad. Thankfully, this was not too difficult because, uh, THERE AREN'T ANY FUCKING GODS!!! What else sucked? Oh, the score was terrible, boring and unoriginal. Helen of Troy, possibly the most difficult character to cast, was some humdrum blonde who further reduced a cunning character (following up on the script's devaluation of her significance in all this) into a dumb blonde? That's the face that launched a thousand ships? More like a thousand yawns. One of my biggest peeves is that it's like they didn't even bother with the love angle past the opening 20 minutes. And even what was there was unconvincing and embarrassing. What, they fell in love because they'd been screwing for a week? Acting was pretty lukewarm, but I have to give props to Eric Bana for giving Hector a doomed nobility. Although in the beginning, his eyes were kind of freaky as he tried to convey panic silently. Brad Pitt got to display his two acting tricks: furrowing the brow and clenching the jaw. He cries over a fallen warrior's body but there are no tears. That's acting for ya. Sean Bean, one of the best actors we have, is wasted here; poor guy didn't even get a fucking frame in the trailer but he deserves a better salary than Orlando Bloom. Speaking of the fey one, I'm sorry but you're just too pretty. I almost thought he was Helen. Peter O'Toole got one decent scene; otherwise he was just bug-eyed. Brian Cox I enjoyed, actually; everytime he was onscreen there was a small gnashing sound in the background, I later realized it was the scenery being chewed. I'm disappointed to find out that the script was written by David Benioff, an actual novelist who was responsible for both the book and screenplay of The 25th Hour. Effects were unimpressive, but not bad; movement was stilted and crooked at times, so occasionally I'd find myself thinking, "Massive... Massive... Massive..." referring to the program invented during the production of the Lord of the Rings trilogy which specializes in armies and large groups of creatures interacting. The best scene was the duel between Achilles and Hector. Achilles had this annoying jump-in-the-air-and-strike-down move that really felt like some video game special move for his character, and I wish it wasn't TOO obvious that Hector was outclassed. Still, I liked its relative silence, and what score there was was fitting, but it was ruined by the singing at the end. There's a spoiler here, though this being one of the oldest stories in the history of the world it shouldn't be, but anyway: Hector dies. And after that point, the film just deflates, because there's no one to root for. You're just "Alright, just bring on the horse so we can get this over with." Then Achilles gets shot in the foot with an arrow, and keels over. At which point I realized they never even brought up his invulnerability, or his heel. So I felt bad for kids in the audience, who must've been confused as shit. I mean, here's the greatest warrior, and he got taken down by a stick in the foot? All in all, it was boring. The war scenes weren't very good, though I really enjoyed the choreography in the Hector/Achilles duel. I found myself thinking of various scenarios that would make it more interesting, like while Troy was being ransacked, wouldn't it be cool if suddenly you saw Jim Caviezel dragging a cross being whipped by Romans? Or if Eric Bana just turned into the Hulk on the beach and just started eating Greeks? Peter O'Toole should have called on Supergirl for aid. Orlando Bloom should have picked up a bow and arrow and started firing bolts and-- oh, yeah, that's right. Well.

I really wanted to like it. I'm in the mood for a good Big Summer Movie. And I liked some of Wolfgang Peterson's previous work like In the Line of Fire. Air Force One was okay, didn't see The Perfect Storm. Haven't seen Das Boot, though it's his claim to existence with the cineastes. But he did direct The Neverending Story, so I'm pretty forgiving for that alone.

Thank God we watched Shrek 2 next. It's everything you could hope for: funny and entertaining on all levels, from first minute to last. Antonio Banderas's Puss in Boots steals practically every scene he's in. There are even some geek nods to Alien and Godzilla fans.

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