I decided that I would watch this, as best I could, without my classicist glasses on. And since I mainly did language and literature, I'm really not that up on stuff like what kind of armour they should have been wearing. So, my comments are generally just about the movie as it stands, not so much as an interpretation of the source material.
That fleet of ships was the most beautiful thing on the black earth.
Lovely battle scenes, I must say. Fantastic hand-to-hand mass confusion, the Great Balls of Fire were such a great visual, and it was rather nice to see Achilles slice and dice with such ruthless efficiency. But the awesomest fight by far was Hektor vs Ajax. God, that hammer! And the way Ajax kept beating on Hektor, no matter how much he was hurt. Wow. I wish I just had a file of that one fight.
Peter O'Toole was luminous. Seriously, just glowing in every scene. I am so, so glad he had that scene with Achilles. But I wish we could have seen more of their grief. Still and all, well done.
All in all, though, I felt unsatisfied. I spent the time on the bus back trying to work out why. I think that the story, as portrayed, just doesn't fit with any of the usual story paradigms we're used to seeing.
I couldn't work out what the themes were meant to be.
- War is futile?
- Women cause trouble?
- Live fast, die young, leave a good-looking corpse?
- Younger brothers cause trouble?
- Sean Bean is the sexiest man alive?
Achilles is the main character, but it's hard to work up any empathy for him because he's a big jerk. But the movie tries to stir us anyhow. It's like he's an anti-hero but the movie thinks he's a hero. He didn't do anything particularly good or praiseworthy. And it's not his tragedy either: he knows his choice from the beginning, he decides for death and glory, and he gets it. La.
I couldn't work up any empathy for Paris and Helen either. There was nothing there that convinced me that it was any more than a pretty young girl married to a nasty old man meeting a pretty young boy, so every time one of them angsted about causing all that trouble, I wanted them to suffer even more.
Hektor, of course, is the real hero of the bunch. Maybe it should have been his story instead. *sigh* I've always loved him best, I must confess.
Paris didn't even get to redeem himself. Sure he offs Achilles, but from a distance (just like Apollo the Far Shooter) and, really, all I could think was: how nice that Orlando gets to do some more shooting. He didn't really risk himself at all. But I did love his fight with Menelaus. I wondered how he was going to get out of that one, since Aphrodite wasn't there to do it. Clutching Hektor's feet, his face all bloody. Yay! Orlando Bloom was born to play Paris, take that how you will. Too bad he was prettier than Helen.
Achilles & Briseis? That wasn't love, that was Stockholm Syndrome.
I really enjoyed Sean Bean's Odysseus. Nicely done, just the right amount of wry humour. Bring on the Odyssey, I'm ready for it.
Speaking of which, I had a giggle fit when Paris handed over the sword of Troy to Aeneas, standing there with decrepit Anchises on his shoulders. Never forget the glory that was Rome! And to set up sequels good and early!
I must say, it seemed rather hard on the gods to write them out and then have people complain about them not helping.
Red-headed Menelaus was a nice touch. :)
Damn, did they really have to make Achilles and Patroklos so un-homoerotic? Bah. Like a tongue kiss or two would have hurt.
And I think that's it. Oh, one more thing: there was this one theme in the score that was almost the Stargate theme. Most distracting.