Monday, November 12, 2007


2004, US, directed by Wolfgang Petersen

Even when they have links to wider events, Wolfgang Petersen's best films, like Das Boot and In the Line of Fire, play out on a smaller canvas, but here he's hamstrung by the requirements of a big-budget swordplay epic that allow little time to explore the intimate story at the heart of the original Greek myths. The vast battle sequences are too obviously in the thrall of other films - whether Saving Private Ryan for the beach invasion early in the film, or The Lord of the Rings as the scale expands - and while there are impressive bloody confrontations on occasion, too often the computer-generated nature of the carnage is apparent.

When Petersen is capable of reducing the focus, the film has a greater payoff: watching Hector (Eric Bana) prepare for a fateful battle has an undeniable charge, while Peter O'Toole steals the film with one pivotal scene, where the aged Priam appeals to Achilles's better judgment. Other British and Irish stars fare less well: neither Brian Cox nor Brendan Gleeson are well-served by script or direction (though Cox's hair extensions probably deserve some form of acting nod), appearing to have drifted in from a different film (Gleeson's accent is especially distracting). Sean Bean, though, and the Australian Bana give the film the gravitas it needs, and help to ensure that for all the historo-mythical infelicities, the movie remains solidly watchable.

No comments:


List of all movies

Most of the images here are either studio publicity stills or screen captures I've made myself; if I've taken your image without giving you credit, please let me know.

About Me

Boston, Massachusetts, United States