Saturday, August 20, 2005

Clash Of The Titans ...

In the interest of pseudo-science, I Netflixed "Troy" and "Alexander," placing them in my queue so they'd arrive at the same time. I felt some need to watch these "epics" back to back and measure them against each other.

How male of me.

I watched "Troy" first, in several installments. (Each of these films is nearly three hours long.) My one-word review to L.A. Dave when it was over? "Eh." It was OK. It wasn't awful. The CGI battle scenes were a little ridiculous and overblown. I was supposed to be seeing 50,000 troops, but the CGIers clearly got a little happy with the cut-and-paste function on their computers. Brad Pitt spends a few minutes in the film not wearing any clothes, so that was nice. I'm not a big Brad fan (even before the Brad vs. Jen pop culture war), but kudos to his personal trainer and whoever was lucky enough to do the full-body makeup.

I started "Alexander" last night, finished it this morning. My one-word review to L.A. Dave when it was over? "Oy." It was less than OK. It bordered on awful. Mostly, it was disjointed. It's 323 B.C., now it's 40 years later, now it's 10 years earlier, now it's 10 years later, now it's nine years earlier, now Angelina's wearing a red dress! Mental whiplash. Like "Troy," there are lots of bloody battle scenes, but really, aren't we done with those? We've seen "Gladiator." One skirmish in this film literally made me say -- yeah, out loud -- "It's 'Braveheart' with elephants." Then again, at least that was new. Movie-goers aren't usually treated to a soldier meeting his end under the foot of an elephant. Colin Farrell is likewise pretty without his clothes on. And this movie dared to explore Alexander's love for men, where "Troy" never owned up to Achilles' tendencies.

A quick search on IMDb reveals that "Troy" had a budget of $185 million -- yikes! Its U.S. gross was $133 million. Ooh, a $50 million shortfall. Its RottenTomatoes.com score? 55. Rotten by the site's standards.

The same stats for "Alexander": Budget of $150 million. U.S. gross: $34 million -- ouch! RottenTomatoes.com score? 14.

For comparison's sake: "Braveheart's" RottenTomatoes.com score is 81; "Rob Roy," 76, both of which bowed in 1995, just as "Troy" and "Alexander" both bowed in 2004. "Braveheart" cost $53 milion and grossed $75 million. "Rob Roy" was a bargain at $28 million and took in $31 million. And both were much better films.

A lesson for Hollywood: It's not about who can spend the most money to film in the most exotic locations. It has been, and always will be, about the story.

Or, as Pulitzer-Prize winner Roger Ebert said so well: "Fascinated by his subject, [Oliver Stone] has things he urgently wants to say about Alexander, but his urgency outraces his narrative; he gives us provocative notes and sketches but not a final draft. The film doesn't feel at ease with itself. It says too much, and yet leaves too much unsaid."

2 Comments:

Blogger Pappy said...

It sounds like you need a man to keep you busy!

Pappy
Mackin with Pappy

12:43 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Ooh, Pappy. Yes, that's right, baby. I need a man to keep me busy. A man like you, who takes pictures of women's asses and blogs about taking a piss in the middle of the night. Clearly, I've been looking for love in all the wrong places.

4:15 PM  

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