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A Missed Opportunity
They give you beefed up Brad, who doesn't do bad as Achilles, though some more spear splintering rage like the Beach assault, rather than moping petulance might have made it better, an acting talent of an Eric Bana to portray a convincingly noble and believable Hector, O'Toole to deliver a heartbreaking Priam, a menacing enough Menelaus from Gleeson, though not near enough of "Menelaus, the best of men", and a passable Helen from the beautiful Kruger and whimpy enough Paris from Bloom--and all the CGI that one movie could eat, --AND the most riveting story of the last 3000 years and what do we get? Not near enough Sean Bean, no use of Diomedes as a character, AND FOR THE LOVE OF MIKE, LLAMAS!!!! No kidding LLAMAS skittering through the panic shot as the alarm is raised (Those long-venturing Acheans must have had some really dandy trade routes). Then 10 years are compressed into one, Achilles sneaks into town in the Trojan horse long after he died, Agamemnon, (a nice portrayal here as well) gets killed by Briesis rather than Clytemnestra back home and Menelaus gets his from Hector, instead of "falling in love at the sight of golden Helen's breasts" and taking her home. Come on, didn't anybody read the book? And what's wrong with the gods showing up from time to time? The Greeks thought they were there and played roles in the war. Divien intervention doesn't mean they had to get the Ray Harryhausen treatment to make use of them. Peterson didn't have to have them visible at all, just the effect of their action. So now we get a half-good treatment of the war at Troy. Now the opportunity to do full honor to the Iliad is likely gone on the multi-million buck budget for this under-performing epic shortfall.
In Search of the Trojan War (1985)
Even after 20 years it holds up extremely well; however...
In this update interview on the DVD Michael expressed how much he'd love to make an update. Its time only because so much has happened since, and there is so much more evidence to examine. NO REDO OF THE ORIGINAL! Its fine as it is. But the stratigraphy studies on the Plain, the marine sites of bronze age ships, the discovery of the Mycenaean funerary sites, the update on the lower town and the defensive ditch and update the location of the recently discovered Mycenaean palaces on Salamis and re-identifying Ithaca. There is material enough for at least two hours of screen time, maybe three. And there is also Fagel's exceptional translation to refer to. Michael, we're hungry for more. Lets go.
The Big Sleep (1946)
Great Product of the Warner Bros. Studio system
One of the most compelling suspense films ever made. It is actually the product of two films: The first version was never released for two reasons: The studio had a backlog of war related movies to release while the war was still underway and the Big Sleep could wait; the second was the weak performance and poor costuming of Lauren Bacall. When they re-shot the film the logical, if plodding sequence early in the film was ditched in exchange for a sketchy, much faster paced beginning sequence as well as other scenes that supported the faster pace. The result was a mystery so simultaneously intriguing and confusing that neither the writers, Howard Hawks the director and nor the original book's author, Raymond Chandler, could figure out who did three of the killing. But that didn't matter, it was a riveting movie and like Casablanca a fine example of what the studio's movie factory model could produce. The DVD has an earlier version and a UCLA film school comparison of the two productions. It is well worth the time to watch it despite its being a little academic.