Whenever there's a director's cut featuring swords, sandals, and three hours of pretentious violence, Judge Ryan Keefer won't be far behind.
Our review of Troy: Director's Cut, published September 18th, 2007, is also available.
Slightly longer, but is twice really nice?
Wolfgang Petersen (The Perfect Storm) released Troy in 2004 to mostly lukewarm reviews and a general overall apathy from the moviegoing public and the critics that shape their destinies, or so I'd like to think. The same case could be made for Oliver Stone's Alexander as well. So both directors went back to the well, added a chunk of footage to their respective films and re-released them with Warner Brothers' help. So is this new version of Troy worth letting the horse through the gates?
Facts of the Case
Since I watched the theatrical cut of the film before and reviewed it for DVD Verdict, allow me to pull from my mindgrapes the text that I outlined before, okay?
I guess the convenient thing about adapting Homer's "The Iliad" for the screen is that at least he can't come back and "note" you to death, as Tobias Fünke might be prone to say. So David Benioff (25th Hour) took the story and ran with it. At least the pitch meeting had to have gone well to get the studio go-ahead, right? (Cue the Wayne and Garth-like flashback sequence music in your head)
"So I've got this idea, about this guy, see? And he's a real good warrior. His name is Achilles, like the foot thing, right! And his ideas clash with the Greek King, his name is Algamemnon (Brian Cox, Rushmore). Algamemnon is a power and land-hungry guy and invades foreign lands all the time."
"But this time, things are a little more interesting. In this village named Troy, there's a King named Priam (Peter O'Toole, The Lion in Winter) and he's got two sons that are princes. One's named Hector (Eric Bana, Hulk), and he's been in battles through the years, and he's the big brother. The little brother is named Paris (Orlando Bloom, Kingdom of Heaven), and he's a bit of a pimp. He even steals a woman named Helen (Diane Kruger, National Treasure), who's married to a Greek King named Menelaus (Brendan Gleeson, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire). So Menelaus is pissed, and him and Algamemnon invade Troy."
"Well, they try to. Hector kills Menelaus (who'd just beaten up Paris), the Greeks invade and they're repelled. Then this guy Odysseus (Sean Bean, Ronin) thinks that the Greeks should build this big horse to hide in. The Trojans see it, bring it back to Troy, everyone's happy, they drink and pass out. But the Greeks in the horse come out and they fight one last time. How's that?"
"Beautiful, just beautiful! Here's 175 million dollars, and a running time of almost three hours, go for it!"
Or at least in this case, give some video exec at Warner Brothers a rubber stamp to let them do a second edition of this on Blu-ray, similar to what they did with Oliver Stone's Alexander.
At this point, I'm guessing that you're only here to find out what's new in the film, so let me see if I can recall this as completely as possible. Petersen's vision of this film doesn't change things entirely, but does have a more leisurely pace. The musical cues are changed somewhat from the theatrical version. I don't remember it coming it as thundering as it did once before, and is a little quieter and designed to complement what's going on in the film. There are some added scenes with Paris and Helen before the journey back to Troy that make a world of difference in transforming Paris from a spoiled younger brother who can't fight into one who makes the decision he does for love, and though he tries to do what he can to keep her, he knows he doesn't have a lot of game to back it up, which is tragic. Bloom apparently has a knack for benefiting from director's cut DVDs, because his character is much improved in this version than the theatrical one (Kingdom of Heaven was the other).
There are also some other inclusions like an earlier introduction with Odysseus which helps show how grounded he was, but the other big change in the film are the battles. They are a little bit longer, and the battle of Troy has a run-up to it that shows the anticipation that both sides had in the fight, but more noticeably, the gore is a lot more prevalent. So points to Petersen for bringing back the realism of the battles.
Warner seems to have put the work in for this new version of Troy, as the whole bloody affair looks good, I couldn't really tell any jumps between the added footage and what made the final cut in the first place, and there seems to be a bit more depth and detail when you watch this now. In addition, I watched this with the PCM soundtrack (as opposed to the TrueHD track on the HD-DVD disc), and I felt that there was a little more "oomph" to it on the low end.
As is the case with these fancy double dips, the director provides an introduction to the piece. Petersen discusses his motivations for getting the true vision out to disc. There are also some slight differences in the rest of the bonus material. The In Movie Experience, which is a Picture-in-Picture subtitle option on the HD DVD of the theatrical cut is gone, but the "In the Thick of Battle," "From Ruins to Reality" and "Troy: An Effects Odyssey" featurettes all remain here, along with the trailer and some pre-visualization footage. But there is some new material to speak of, including "Troy: In Focus," a 20-minute featurette on the film's production with Petersen's explanations of the newer footage and some other parts of the production that he remembers. So yeah, it's basically a long interview. "Attacking Troy" is just that, examining the way the town was to be decimated with interviews from Petersen and others for about 15 minutes, but there's nothing too new to enjoy.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Some of the changes are a little bit annoying. The first battle with Achilles in the film is drawn out a little more, and even could be considered pretentious and a little bit boring, with no real compulsion to stick around. And while the improvements are somewhat significant, it doesn't change my earlier impressions of the film in its theatrical cut. The story still feels a tad formulaic, O'Toole's countenance for a good portion of this film borders on comic double-taking, and Pitt's accent still disappears from time to time.
The changes Petersen makes in Troy are worth the effort to some degree, but it still doesn't make that journey from good to great that some might expect. Technically, the film still looks and sounds great, and there are a couple more extras to enjoy, but if you like the film, I'd recommend getting the HD DVD version for the IME on the Theatrical Cut and the Blu-ray version for the director's cut, to get the whole experience.
Guilty for the crime of double-dipping, just on general principle. Court is adjourned.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
• Troy Revisited: An Introduction by Wolfgang Petersen
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