Discussion in 'DVD' started by Herb Kane, Jan 3, 2005.

  1. Herb Kane

    Herb Kane Screenwriter

    May 7, 2001
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    Two Disc – Widescreen Edition

    Studio: Warner Brothers
    Year: 2004
    Rated: R
    Film Length: 162 Minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Enhanced Widescreen
    Audio: DD 5.1
    Color/B&W: Color
    Languages: English & French
    Subtitles: English, French & Spanish (French only for Special Features)
    MSRP: $29.95
    Package: 2 discs/Keepcase with a 2 page insert

    “War is young men dying and old men talking”

    The Feature:
    Warner Brothers is about to release Wolfgang Peterson’s (The Perfect Storm, Air Force One, In The Line Of Fire and Das Boot) epic film, Troy which was scripted by David Benioff and is loosely based on the epic poem The Iliad by Homer.

    The film details the legendary Trojan War, as the city of Troy is attacked by a Greek army led by King Menelaus (played by Brendan Gleeson) of Sparta and King Agamemnon (played by Brian Cox) of Mycenae. The ensuing attack on the fortified city is a result of a young Trojan prince, Paris (played by Orlando Bloom), who winds up seducing the queen, Helen (played by Diane Kruger) while in Sparta on a peace treaty mission.

    Helen's husband, Menelaus becomes enraged, and pleads with his brother Agamemnon to take his army into battle with the Trojans since he wants his wife back. Paris' brother Hector (played by Eric Bana) is also furious with his younger and immature brother as he realizes what the consequences of his actions will bring.

    The seduction of Helen by young Paris is the focal point of the story. It serves as the justification which the Greeks need to invade the city of Troy in an attempt to consolidate and extend their power in the area of the Aegean. As a result of not only ego, but the desire of greater power, Agamemnon and Menelaus have assembled an enormous Greek army consisting of 50,000 warriors to besiege the impenetrable city of Troy.

    The Greek’s most revered fighter is the legendary Achilles (played by Brad Pitt) who possesses the fiercest reputation of all Greek warriors. Achilles however, despises Agamemnon and feels the king is a poor leader and has grown tired of constantly fighting his battles for him. Agamemnon also dislikes the young warrior and loathes his constant disobedience, petulance and insubordination, but condones his actions due to his fierce fighting abilities and his ability to motivate his warriors. In fact, Achilles and his personal fighting warriors travel to Troy but he is seemingly uninterested in the ensuing war knowing it is nothing more than Agamemnon’s desire for greater power and Menelaus’ desire to serve retribution to the man who stole his wife. That is, until his beloved cousin Patroclus (played by Garrett Hedlund) is killed by Hector in battle.

    Achilles has been instructing the younger cousin Patroclus in the art of fighting, and looks amazingly similar to Achilles. However, fearing for his safety, Achilles assigns Patroclus to guard the boat. Patroclus however, feels he is ready for combat and decides to engage in battle wearing his cousin’s full armor in an attempt to fool the enemy and as a result is slain. Initially, they do think Achilles is dead but soon discover it is only the young Patroclus and realize his death will bring with it, severe consequences.

    The leader of Troy is King Priam (played terrifically by Peter O'Toole), father of Hector and Paris. King Priam is an honorable leader who garners the utmost amount of respect from those who follow him. However, on the brink of war, he seems to underestimate the power and determination of the Greek army. The King even ventures out of the fortress to meet Achilles to make a specific request of him. Amazed by his courage and devotion, he is told by Achilles, "you're a far better king than the one who leads this army."

    Has the Greek army actually left Troy? Or will a large Trojan Horse left as a gift factor into the destiny of Troy…?

    Troy is by no means a terrible film but it isn’t a great one either. Even though it seems lately, Hollywood is keen on reprising these great historic films of epic-like proportions (Alexander and King Arthur are two recent examples), I can’t help but feel these have all been done before and to a greater extent, much more effectively. Aside from the contemporary film, we have versions which starred the likes of Charlton Heston, Elizabeth Taylor, Kirk Douglas, Victor Mature and Rossana Podestà who seemed to be at least equally successful, if not greater, in the character roles they portrayed. That said, Troy is an impressive film to look at in terms of cinematography and the realistic visuals that were created to allow the film to look and feel as authentic as possible. There are plenty of battle scenes to keep you interested, but if you’re susceptible to excessive CGI, then you might find them rather fatiguing.

    The Feature: 3.5/5

    I suspect the majority of those watching this disc will be pleased, but I couldn’t help but feel the overall look of this transfer was rather bland. Actually, I have very little negative to say about the look of this film, in fact most of it is positive – but let me explain…

    Troy comes in its proper OAR of 2.35:1 enhanced widescreen and has an overall look of warmth to it – an appearance of monochrome, with an emphasis of yellows and browns, presumably to lend itself to the climate and surroundings of its locale.

    Colors were bright, falling just short of being vibrant, although saturation was adequate. Flesh tones looked accurate and real. Black levels were dark and deep, however, many of the night shots bordered on being murky lacking appropriate definition. Whites were always stark and clean.

    There was a minute amount of film grain present which afforded a pleasing amount of depth and dimension to the film. As we would expect with such a new film, the print was absolutely immaculate and free of any dust or dirt and not a blemish to be found. The image was rock solid never suffering from any shimmer or jitter. Compression issues were non existent and I noticed very little evidence of edge enhancing halos.

    My problem with the film relates to image definition. There were many instances of great sharpness and impressively defined images. However, much of the film bordered on slightly soft with a slightly glassy or processed look to it. Who knows… perhaps too much filtering? But it was enough to lower my score significantly. I think we have come to expect perfection, realistically at least in terms of new releases. In the case of Troy, perfection wasn’t achieved.

    Warning: Troy also comes in a fullscreen version.

    Video: 3.5/5

    Similar to my feelings about the overall look of Troy, are those regarding the sound of Troy. However, as a qualifier, I have nothing to report in terms of negativities, just a soundtrack that’s rather mediocre – at least for this day and age.

    Presented in DD 5.1, the soundtrack on Troy is certainly more than acceptable, but rarely does it do anything to rise above that level of distinction. The track is free of any hiss or other noisy distractions. Dialogue was always exceptionally bold and intelligible and never lost among the James Horner score that frequently and effectively accompanied the film.

    The soundstage was satisfactorily wide where the majority of the film’s auditory effects are anchored. The overall dynamic range was adequate, but the film lacked the boominess and visceral robustness of castle doors slamming and the thunderous pounding of horses galloping. Finer detail was also noticeably absent such as in the clanging of swords and chains, splashing water etc. Directionality and separation was impressive as the various effects and their locations were clearly defined.

    Equally impressive was the deployment of surrounds. These were used to great extent during the plethora of battle scenes, flying spears and arrows and action sequences and were always tactful and never sounded gimmicky. LFE was present and never bloated but lacked the depth we’ve become accustomed to with many of the newer releases.

    Audio: 3.5/5

    Special Features:
    The set is comprised of two discs. Disc one contains the movie only – no other features whatsoever are located on it. The special features are located entirely on disc two starting with:
    [*] In The Thick Of The Battle is perhaps the best of the bunch in terms of special features. A number of the film’s cast and crew members participate including Eric Bana, Brad Pitt Simon Crane, Wolfgang Petersen, Richard Smedley, Simon Atherton, Daniel Parker, Joss Williams and Richard Ryan. This featurette looks at some of the challenges involved in such a large and sweeping epic film. Various subjects are discussed such as the battle sequences, weapons, silicone make-up prosthetics and various special effects work used in the production of the film. Duration: 17:14 minutes.
    [*] From Ruins To Reality. This is a shorter feature which focuses more on set design and the location of the film shoot. Again a number of participants show up including Wolfgang Petersen, Eric Bana, Brad Pitt, Joss Williams, David Benioff, Lesley Fitton, Diana Rathbun, and Peter O’Toole among many others. Interesting but brief. Duration: 14:05 minutes.
    [*] Troy: An Effects Odyssey is a feature that focuses entirely on the special effects used in Troy. Obviously, CGI was used extensively throughout the course of the film including the enormous armies, the 1000 ship armada sequences and various battle sequences. Again, interesting but brief. Duration: 10:58 minutes.
    [*] Gallery Of The Gods. In case you weren’t paying attention in Mr. Donat’s Greek mythology classes (as I probably wasn’t), here is a short tutorial of twelve various mythological Gods and what each of them represent. Duration: 12 minutes approximately.
    [*] Finally, the Theatrical Trailer is included which looks great. Duration: 2:07 minutes.

    These are all pretty decent special features, they’re just too short. By the time you find yourself caught up in the meat and potatoes, they’re over. My only complaint - these could have and should have been longer.

    Special Features: 3.5/5

    **Special Features rated for the quality of supplements, not the quantity**

    Final Thoughts:
    I have mixed feeling’s on Wolfgang Peterson’s Troy. Although I didn’t see the movie theatrically, when I went into it, admittedly my expectations were low. And for the most part, I wasn’t disappointed. But to be honest, I certainly wasn’t all that overwhelmed either. I like Brad Pitt but felt that he really was out of his element playing the Greek legend, Achilles. The movie is long, but in fairness to Peterson there is a lot of ground to cover and it does move along briskly. As you might expect, O’Toole’s performance was terrific but Bana’s performance was the surprise here who winds up carrying much of the movie himself.

    I’d have a tough time recommending this film to those, sight unseen. As I look at the overall scores of the disc, it clocks in at 3.5 across the board in every category. If I were to use a single word to describe the entire package from the film, to the presentation to the special features, that word would be “average”. If you’re familiar with the film, you should find the presentation satisfying – no more, no less. If you’re going into this blindly, you might consider a rental first.

    Overall Rating: 3.5/5 (not an average)

    Release Date: January 4th, 2005
  2. LorenzoL

    LorenzoL Second Unit

    Feb 20, 2004
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    Thanks for the review Herb.

    I feel the same way about the movie that you did and calling it "average" is fair.

    In regards to the DVD presentation, knowing the underwhelmed reception that this movie received at the box office, I'm surprised that the studio did not go out of the way to include more substantial extras like commentaries.
  3. KyleC

    KyleC Supporting Actor

    Nov 1, 2003
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    I thought the pacing of this movie was some of the worst in recent memory. I was bored to tears at times.
  4. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

    Oct 31, 1997
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    This movie was also a "decent but not great" film for me as well. What would have made this a no brainer purchase, though, is if WB had included Gabriel Yared's rejected score. After hearing snippets of it a few times from Yared's website (before WB forced him to take them off), I concluded that his score sounded superior to the one that actually was used in the film. And apparently Yared had finished his job of scoring the entire film (and I assume WB had paid him for his work, thus why they had the right to tell him to take the samples off the website), so it was right there, ready for inclusion.

    WB really missed out on this one. You'd think they would have made a bang-up DVD in hopes of selling a ton of copies, since the BO totals were not great (133 mil in US, but I think over 400 mil worldwide).

    Since there's nothing in this package to really get excited over (the extras seem run of the mill) I'm going to have to give this a pass.
  5. soop.spoon

    soop.spoon Supporting Actor

    Aug 24, 1998
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    Thanks for the review, Herb.

    Bana outshines the rest of the cast by far. But even his great performance barely saves this movie from the shitheap.

    I was also hugely disappointed by the paint-by-numbers score. After hearing the amazing rejected Yared score I lost any interest in seeing this movie again. What a waste.
  6. ChrisBEA

    ChrisBEA Screenwriter

    Jul 19, 2003
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    Nice review.
    I wasn't a big fan when I saw it in the theater, my stance has softened a bit, especially after the dreadful Alexander.

    If not for Bana and O'toole, though, the acting was pretty poor. Pitt was sadly miscast, he is too much a modern actor bringing nuances to a character that is larger han life, it just didn't work.

    I may check it out again on disk.
  7. Aaron Thorne

    Aaron Thorne Stunt Coordinator

    Sep 29, 2003
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    Well it appears that I am in the minority here but I really enjoyed this film. The story kept me interested and the acion was great. I'll be picking this one up tomorrow.

    Herb, thanks for a great review!
  8. DustinPizarro

    DustinPizarro Stunt Coordinator

    Aug 23, 2004
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    You got that right Herb. It was too "loosely based" on the Iliad that ruined it for me. Worst of all is that I knew what I was going into since I read some of the previews prior to seeing this theatrically. I wouldn't call this movie an epic since it lacked many of the elements from such real classics like Spartacus . Yet because of that I decided to judge this movie on its own merits and still came away with mixed feelings. The biggest complaint for me was the script. Even for its 2 1/2 hour running time I felt the story was rushed given the enormous weight of the poem. However I do agree that the cinematography was impressive and I also enjoyed the battle scenes. But I don't know if that warrants a purchase. I guess I'll be tossing a coin on this one.
  9. Allan^L

    Allan^L Stunt Coordinator

    Mar 5, 2004
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    Looks like a rental (and a previously viewed purchase if I end up liking it) to me. Average movie = average DVD. Thanks for the review!
  10. Vincent_P

    Vincent_P Screenwriter

    Sep 13, 2003
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    They should've had Peter O'Toole do a commentary. Hearing him rant about "that Kraut" for 2 1/2 hours would've been a blast :)

  11. Jim_C

    Jim_C Cinematographer

    Feb 6, 2001
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    >>Pitt was sadly miscast, he is too much a modern actor bringing nuances to a character that is larger han life, it just didn't work.
  12. Sebastien S

    Sebastien S Second Unit

    Jul 17, 2003
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    To each his own.

    I absolutely loved this movie at the thearte and couldn't wait to have it on DVD (I've actually had it since last Thursday December 30th)!

    By the same token, personally... I could care less about the "older" movies in this genre (those already mentioned in this thread) featuring so called "legends" in the cinema. But I have seen most of those movies (again, mentioned already) at least once... Just never cared for them.

    But I do respect the opinion of others and thank you for your review. [​IMG]
  13. StevenFC

    StevenFC Second Unit

    Aug 23, 2003
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  14. Matt Czyz

    Matt Czyz Supporting Actor

    Jun 5, 2003
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    Herb, as always, great review. I never planned on buying Troy (and still don't) but your reviews are always top o' the line.

    I will have to disagree there, though. Troy's musical score is by far one of the worst movie scores I've heard in years. It brought so much attention to itself, and it never really seemed to gel with what was going on onscreen. And that ending credits song.... ::shudder::
  15. Jeff Adams

    Jeff Adams Screenwriter

    Dec 13, 1999
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    I would have to completely agree with you! The score was so far off. It was terrible. It sounded rushed and thrown together at the last minute. Very suprising to see that from a master like James Horner. I feel that the score is a VERY important part of any film, it brings the viewer into the movie. This one left me way outside the movie.

    As far as the film itself goes, not bad, not good. It's just okay. I would give it a B- rating. I would say it is definately worth a rental. I do want to see it again but I will probably wait to watch it in HD on HBO or Showtime.

    On a very positive note, one thing that really stood out for me was Eric Bana's performance. His role as Hector in this film was spectacular.
  16. Jason Adams

    Jason Adams Supporting Actor

    Aug 30, 2002
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    Real Name:
    Roger Jason Adams

    Yep...Horner took two weeks for what Yared took a year to do, and it shows. I liked the movie, but I'm not quite sure if I want to buy it yet. I'll probably give it a rental in the meantime.

    And for Yared's complete rejected score...it isnt hard to find if your willing to download from unscrupulous sources.
  17. Patrick H.

    Patrick H. Second Unit

    Nov 23, 2004
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    As a film music fanatic and sometime-composer, I'm pleased to see so many people mentioning Gabriel Yared's rejected score for this film. His public indignation over its removal hasn't left him in good standing with the studio (which is one likely reason why you're not hearing it on DVD), but his protest served its purpose...it made serious film fans aware of his work and shined some light on the ridiculousness of "focus-group filmmaking."

    Yared spent a full year writing his version, researching historical and geographical music styles and find-tuning his orchestrations, but a handful of test audience members said it sounded "too old-fashioned" (?!?!) and he was let go. The logic of then trying to re-write and re-record an orchestral score for a 2-hour-plus movie with ONE MONTH to its release is insane. I agree with Matt...James Horner's replacement score was a hackneyed mess that actively destroyed the film for me like a virus. Themes from Shostakovitch and Britten were ripped-off wholesale without even a key change. The Lisa Gerrard approach from Gladiator was also applied very poorly. There were no memorable themes (even the stolen ones were bland), the tempos were sluggish (probably to cover as much film as possible with minimal writing), and there was just TOO MUCH of it. Droning underscore grated away at me from titles to credits.

    A little while ago I was lucky enough to hear a bit more of the Yared score than what was posted on his site. All I can say is that it's a STUNNING piece of work, richly orchestrated, well thought-out, with wonderful choral writing. I feel it easily would've made the film a more exciting and moving experience (it'll never be a masterpiece, but I would've enjoyed it), and definitely would've brought some major recognition to Yared (and probably an Oscar nomination). Where Horner's score is numbing, his is rousing. It makes total sense that he would speak out about it, even if it wasn't a good "professional" move. Looking at the Amazon reviews for the Horner CD, a even a lot of casual fans there have commented about hearing the sound clips on his site and being stunned by how much better it sounded. Although it's not likely, I hope we get to hear the whole thing in the movie and on CD someday.

    P.S. I suppose I should add that I didn't download the additional Yared material...a good friend has a copy of the promotional CD that's been circulating around. Film music nuts love to network! [​IMG]
  18. John H Ross

    John H Ross Screenwriter

    Oct 16, 2000
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    Being a long-time fan of both Horner and Yared I will second the fact that Yared's score for Troy is FAR superior to Horner's replacement. Although, to give Horner his due, he did a damn fine job in the time he had.

    BTW, Yared's score is out there on CD - I've heard 75+ minutes of it - it's just not a particularly legal one ;-)

  19. Dave Gorman

    Dave Gorman Supporting Actor

    Jul 22, 1999
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    Considering I loathe 95% of Horner's music (of course, 95% of his music is all identical...), it sounds like the music alone would ruin the movie for me (as it did for Braveheart).
  20. Jack _Webster

    Jack _Webster Stunt Coordinator

    May 13, 2003
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    Watching it as I type - about half way through. Much better now than back in theaters, now that the hype has died down. I remember going in expecting the Best Picture of the Year. Well, it wasn't that good, just plain good. I'm enjoying it very much now. Wish the Yared score was included (would have turned this good film in to a really good film), but it doesn't ruin the movie for me. Good old epic fun - might even squeeze into my top ten for 2004.

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