Topless men suck
Homer's Iliad comes to life in Wolfgang Petersen's adaptation of Troy. It was a daunting task to make the poem into a movie that would suit the tastes of today's audiences. A decade-long war with a huge cast characters and angry Gods is not something that people would probably go for. So now, instead of ten years, the siege lasts what is probably a couple weeks. The Gods are not there, but their names are still referenced. Instead, the movie shifts its focus to many shots of its buffed up, often shirtless male protagonists in bloody combat. Troy is pure spectacle. Computer graphics and a large cast of extras help to create a huge, epic look to the battle scenes. The camera sweeps lower over the clashes, giving a sense of scope to the battle. It's a pretty fun exercise, but like most other big budget films, is pretty brainless. The heart of The Iliad lies with its Gods and their manipulation of the Trojans and the Greeks. Taking them away leaves the story less emotional.
Archilles and Hector are the two main characters, and they are both played really well, by Brad Pitt and Eric Bana. I ended up sympathizing with both of them. The two have a spectacular one-on-one fight near the end of the film. Petersen is good at action scenes, and he has plenty of scenes here to work with. He introduces many minor characters briefly, long enough to get a sense of who the person is, then kills him off. The battles last just long enough not to be boring, and Petersen pulls everything off deftly. This is especially true given that many people already know who will win between Achilles and Hector, and who will win the war. Troy looks fantastic. The CGI blends well into real sets and aside from a chunk in the middle of the film, the time passes quickly. But all the focus on how the film looks distracts people from a dumbed-down story. Troy is a film to watch, not listen to or think about. The battles are large, the people are beautiful, and there's not much going on underneath.