Daily Archives: 02/01/2005

Action Epic Showdown

I wrote a long essay/review for most of the movies I watched during December and January. It bored the crap out of me, and I wrote it. So instead, I thought I would break it into a series of smaller posts, starting with this one about some recent action movies with epic pretensions that I saw.

  • Troy – I wasn’t expecting much, so I was pleasantly surprised. “Inspired by the Iliad of Homer,” was the first thing that I noticed during the end credits. Inspired indeed. It certainly wasn’t the Iliad, but it touched on the major themes of the war. Though it made the Trojan War look like it last two weeks instead ten years. I guess it was a wise decision to drop all the supernatural involvement that Homer relates. One thing I didn’t understand: Achilles spouting off about freedom, the dignity of the common man and the evils of monarchy. Huh? What the hell? This is a strange obsession coming from the vainglorious Achilles, the single greatest warrior who ever lived. It was completely off piste. As Roger Ebert says, “Heroes are not introspective in Greek drama, they do not have second thoughts, and they are not conflicted.” But the guy who played Hector nailed it, and Orlando Bloom as a simpering Paris was a bold career move for the teen heart throb. It was a mediocre movie, but still it was better than the next two combined. I’m sure Homer is spinning in his grave, but at least Troy told it’s story in a concise and entertaining manner.
  • Alexander – I always thought the life and conquests of Alexander the Great would make an amazing movie. Boy, was I wrong. I had my misgivings, mainly the fact that Oliver Stone directed the movie. I should have listened to my gut feeling. Alexander is a disjointed, bloated mess. The high point of this overlong movie was definitely Rosario Dawson’s naked body. Holy crap on stick, what a set of boobs on her. I am still in awe of that scene. Wow. The low point? Without a doubt the endless expositions were Alexander drones on about creating a kingdom of equals, with all races united under his rule, enjoying freedom from oppression, good schools, new roads, brotherhood and equality. What the fuck? Alexander was a blood thirsty megalomaniac, not some Peloponnesian Tom Paine. Colin Farrell just never clicks as a dreamy, mopey Alexander, for the love of Zeus, Alexander drove his army beyond the limits of the world by the force of maniacal will. Farrell doesn’t have that vision, that drive, to play such a forceful character. And did I mention the never ending dialogue? Over and over with the simpering platitudes of equality, brotherhood and acceptance. I couldn’t wait to get out of the movie theater. The only that kept me in my seat was the possibility of seeing Rosario Dawson’s boobies again. Fat chance, after that one scene she becomes a piece of scenery, sitting in the background of a couple scenes without another line of dialogue – it was all used up by her gasbag of a husband.
  • King Arthur – Another bit of sword play and mayhem, with King Arthur spouting the same Jeffersonian ideals as Achilles and Alexander. On the bright side, Keira Knightley is fetching in her leather battle bikini and blue paint. I can think of so many better movies that utilize the Arthurian legend, like Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Seriously, all that ridiculous talk about equality and justice sunk the movie. It’s the fourth fucking century A.D. for Christ’s sake. Think Visigoths and Vandals sacking Rome and plunging the world into the Dark Ages. What the world needed at that time was a hard man to hold back the tide of chaos and collapse of civilization, not some chain mail garbed Rousseau. Never mind the very fact that while Clive Owen is spouting off about freedom and equality and the rights of Britons, his cadre of Round Table Knights are basically indentured servants who can’t wait to abandon their bilious leader and return to their long forgotten homes. What the hell is going on here? This moronic spouting of democratic platitudes from autocrats, emperors and kings is some sort of Hollywood allegiance subtext. Civics for dummies or something. It sullies the achievements of our founding fathers and their Enlightenment ideals to put such anachronistic ramblings in the mouths of the ancients.

I don’t know if anybody else finds this significant, but isn’t it strange how blood thirsty warriors, megalomaniacal despots and warrior kings are all couched as defenders of freedom and all the values we hold self evident? Displacement fantasies perhaps? Some sort of cultural wish fulfillment? The mirror reflects back upon us those traits we wish for; fearsome soldiers or philosopher kings?