Warner Home Video
MSRP: $20.98
RUNNING TIME: 196 Minutes
• Troy in Focus
• In the Thick of Battle
• From Ruins to Reality
• Troy: an Effects Odyssey
• Attacking Troy
• Greek Ship Towing
• Theatrical Trailer

The Pitch

It’s a meatier, beefier, boobier, chunkier, gooier, grosser version of 2004’s epic battle film.

See? It’s a flying spleen!

The Humans

Brad Pitt, Eric Bana, Orlando Bloom, Peter O’Toole, Brian Cox, Sean Bean

King Priam’s most prized possession was his Janet Jackson statue. He made monthly requests to the city elders to change the name of Troy to "Rhythm Nation".

The Nutshell

Wolfgang Petersen introduces the director’s cut of his 2004 film Troy, which tells the story of the dramatic siege of the walled Trojan city by the vast Greek army. On the Greek side, we’ve got the gruff, body-hair-free, awesomely-chiseled Achilles, led by the megalomaniacal and bloodthirsty Agamemnon; on the Trojan side, we’ve got the brave, body-hair-full, decently-chiseled Hector, led by the nice but easily-influenced King Priam. A nancy-boy Trojan prince named Paris runs off with a Greek king’s wife, giving Agamemnon a great excuse to start a war between the two nations. What follows is Homer’s classic tale of wife-stealing, revenge-taking, face-spearing, and horse-gifting.

When Bob asked the director to have his role more "fleshed out" for the directors cut, this wasn’t exactly what he had in mind.

The Lowdown

There’s little doubt that Troy was one of the most talked about films of 2004. It was a loud, bright, noisy epic that drew applause for its detailed, lavish production, as well as criticism for poorly developed characters, "historical" inaccuracies (and I use the term "historical" very loosely, as Troy is clearly based on Homer’s poem, which may or may not be based on actual events), and some spotty acting. I’m firmly in the camp that found it a highly entertaining yet flawed “battle film” much on par with Mel Gibson’s Braveheart. It was an amusement park ride first, and a historical drama second, which is absolutely fine- not all historical dramas need to be I, Claudius in order to work. Petersen’s Troy clearly emphasizes fun over subtlety, as evidenced by its broad character strokes, spectacular sets, and violent battles; while there will be many who see it as a lost opportunity, few can dispute that it’s a very entertaining film with a lot of energy. It wasn’t something that I ever wanted to revisit, but if I ever found it playing on television, I’d probably hover around that channel like a vulture while looking for something better.

Wolfgang’s revisitation of this film is a great example of DVD done right. Many of us suspected that there was a better movie lurking within the one that played to theaters in 2004, and we were right; while the director’s cut doesn’t fix all of the problems of the theatrical cut (Orlando Bloom is still in it), it makes the film more interesting, brutal, colorful, and dramatic.

Existing characters are expanded and new ones are introduced, giving us a better and perhaps more accurate vision of Homer’s ancient poem-come-to-life. Sean Bean’s Odysseus goes from near-background to near-foreground, as the director’s cut gives him several brand new scenes in which to shine. We watch Agamemnon’s emissaries attempt to convince the Ithacan king to join him in battle, giving Petersen a chance to show us the friendly, funny side of Odysseus. It adds a much needed element of warmth to the Greek half of the story, letting us relate even better to Achilles and his comrades. It’s great that Troy isn’t a tale about good versus evil; the Greek army isn’t a vast, faceless horde of monsters, and although Agamemnon is still the clear villain of the piece, Odysseus’ presence helps balance out the story and lets us empathize with the invading Greeks. That Sean Bean is a much better actor than Bloom, Bana, or Pitt doesn’t hurt, either.

Also given an expanded role is Tyler Mane’s Ajax, who has this new, terribly delivered line at the beginning of the second act as he watches Achilles storm the Trojan beach with his Myrmidons:


Yep. That should have stayed on the cutting room floor, but what can you do. Mane’s role is only slightly expanded, with the primary benefit being that his battle with Hector is more important and dramatic. I’m glad that Ajax has a bigger role, as it brings his character more into line with Homer’s poem, but I just wish they’d cut that line. It’s so bad that it’s distracting.

Troy is rife with historical inaccuracy. In the film, the Greeks attack Troy not because of the love affair between Helen and Paris, but because of a dispute over who was the better Star Trek captain: Picard, or Kirk.

There are additional scenes with Paris and Helen, and Bana’s relationship to his brother is better depicted, too. Our attachment to Bana’s Hector makes his defeat at the hands of Achilles even more poignant, and adds a new bit of tragic depth to Troy. Most of these scenes are fairly seamless, and will go unnoticed unless you’ve got a great memory, or are playing the theatrical version side-by-side (and if you are playing it side-by-side, I’m sorry, but you’re a jerk).

One of the biggest improvements to this cut is the re-mastered, re-edited score. If you were like me, you loathed Troy’s workmanlike-at-best, temp-quality-at-worst score. There were some synthesized cues in the theatrical version that sounded like they were recorded on my little sister’s Casio. Luckily, this version fixes most of the glaring score problems from the theatrical cut. If you’re a fan of film music, you’ll probably notice track snippets from other films, most notably during the climactic Achilles/Hector fight, where Elfman’s Planet of the Apes theme is used to powerful effect. I’m glad someone found a good use for that score, since Apes was a terrible, useless film (although Ape Lincoln will always bring a smile to my face). Also of note is the enhanced and more vibrant color palette. The water seems bluer, the sand seems sandier, and the blood looks redder.

The other major, noticeable difference is how much gorier the battles are. Chunks of flesh and bits of organ fly wildly from spears and swords. It’s a little like watching a Gwar beach concert. The violence is much more brutal, and in some spots it even feels over-the-top, although the historical, almost storybook-ish setting goes a long way to distance the viewer from the brutality. It won’t turn your stomach, but it’s much more violent than the theatrical cut.

While a spear to the face was usually a death sentence for most ancient warriors, Brian "Spearface" Johnson was a survivor. After recovering from his attack, he wrote a series of self help books entitled "Hole Face, Whole Soul," and was a very popular figure on the morning talk show circuit and a major proponent of spear safety.

All in Troy is not well, however. Paris is still an annoying, weasel-y presence, and is weakly portrayed by Bloom. Pitt’s Achilles still mutters and shouts in a strange, jarring monotone, but his physical presence works well, even though his acting doesn’t. For me, Pitt and Bloom were Troy’s unfixable problems- if you couldn’t live with them then, you won’t be able to live with them now.

The theatrical version was like a beautiful but slightly poo-stained jigsaw puzzle with several pieces missing. The director’s cut fills in most of the missing pieces, and even manages to wipe off some of the poo. If you enjoyed the theatrical cut, I’d whole-heartedly recommend the director’s cut, as it’s far more than just another double dip. If you didn’t like Troy because of the "historical" Homeric inaccuracies or because of the Bloom/Pitt acting, you’ll probably like this one a bit more. If anything, the director’s cut of Troy makes me appreciate DVD’s ability to bring an artist’s true vision to viewers.

Oh yeah, this Trojan Horse idea is a real gem. If only we’d thought of it back in Mordor, it would have made our lives sooooooooo much easier. Here’s some free advice, Aggie- never work with midgets.

The Package

It’s a very well-stacked DVD- there’s a rich assortment of documentaries, my favorite being In the Thick of Battle, which details the stunt work and training needed to get the battle scenes from script to set. There’s an entire evening’s worth of stuff here, and it’s nearly all great. The picture and sound are stellar. The colors are rich and deep, and the Dolby track is near-perfect. Arrows and sword slashings, especially during the Hector/Achilles fight, are brought to vivid life thanks to excellent sound editing and remastering. The box art is a sprinting Pitt, which is actually a bit of a letdown. It isn’t creative, colorful, or interesting. Still, Pitt looks quite scary, which is a feat in and of itself.

8.3 out of 10