Gladiator v Troy
Sharpen your sword and slip on your sandals – it’s the battle everybody wanted to see (well, two of you did). Russell Crowe takes on Brad Pitt. In skirts. What we do in this battle, will echo in the comments section…
Ross McG: Gladiator
At my signal, unleash hell
Pitting Troy against Gladiator is a little like throwing a new-born kitten into an arena with a huge man-eating tiger. There really is no contest. One is an instant classic, the other has Brad Pitt trying to look tough. With pigtails.
Gladiator is brilliant and remains one of the most exhilarating experiences I have ever had in the cinema – up there with Jurassic Park and Speed. Troy had about ten minutes of fun squeezed into its dreary seven-hour running time. Gladiator has Russell Crowe slicing and dicing his way through human flesh like a man possessed. Troy has Brad Pitt deciding whether or not to fight. His Achilles really was the Ronaldo of his day – petulant, moody and always looking at himself in the mirror. Crowe’s Maximus will go down as one of the movies’ all-time great heroes. A mean git, sure, but a mean git you can root for, especially when his family are wiped out.
The brilliance of Gladiator – besides the super action and the fun performances – is in its pacing. It begins not in the Colosseum but in the wilds of Germania, where Crowe must kick some ass in the name of Rome. Troy, in contrast, is in such a rush to get to its titular destination that the remaining two hours of the film is spent watching Brad Pitt on a beach, doing nothing. That’s fine if you have paid to see Heat Magazine: The Movie, but if you want some action you will be sorely disappointed.
In fairness, Troy has one great scene – Pitt’s fight with Eric Bana, the only actor in the film who does any, uh, acting. But Gladiator is a different beast, loaded with compelling sequence after compelling sequence. The aforementioned opening battle is terrific, yet it is bettered by the bloody first arena fight. When Crowe and Co eventually reach Rome, the action manages to go up a notch with a series of Colosseum clashes that have you wincing and cheering. Meanwhile, back in ancient Greece, Orlando Bloom (who was obviously cast to make Pitt look tough) faces Brendan Gleeson in a scuffle that wouldn’t reach the violence levels of a scrap in a primary school playground.
When Pitt screams: ‘Is there no one else?’ ten minutes in, he could be asking if there’s anyone left in the audience. But when Oliver Reed tells Crowe to ‘win the crowd’, he does just that. Am I not entertained? You’re damn right I am, Crowester. If only I could touch you on the shoulder once…
Ross McD: Troy
Careful boy, my mercy has limits
Yeah, yeah, yeah, Gladiator is a classic – we get it. But which would you really rather watch? The DVD tray is open: in one hand you’ve got a sword and sandals epic played by possibly the greatest ensemble cast ever, em, ensembled – Brad Pitt, Eric Bana, Brendan Gleeson, Peter O’Toole, Orlando Bloom, Sean Bean, and of course, because he had a few minutes to spare that day, Brian Cox. In the other, you’ve got moody Russell Crowe stomping around for 2.5hours, while Joaquin Phoenix does his best to outsulk him while trying to bone his sister.
‘My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, me kid’s dead, me wife’s dead, yada yada, etc etc…’ Is it even possible to bring up the subject of films in the pub without some dick reciting this? It has become the new Samuel L ‘strike down upon thee’, and it is grating.
You see, Troy didn’t have the liberty of simply being about one guy’s vendetta mission. It is a sweeping epic that encompasses all the best things we learned about ancient Greece – the wooden horse of Troy, the face that launched a thousand ships, Achilles v Hector, Achilles’ heel, the Odyssey, the Iliad – and that makes it fun to watch. Why couldn’t this film have been made while we were studying history in school? OK, basing your thesis on this particular depiction might have lost you some points for accuracy, but if you were allowed to draw pics of Brad’s awesome abs, then surely female markers would have been won over?
One of the main complaints I hear about Troy is Orlando Bloom’s Paris. Yeah he’s a pussy, but what do people expect? He’s a lover not a fighter! I for one think he played the character well: his pathetic ankle grabbing antics make you cringe as director Wolfgang Petersen wanted you too. I am sure, however, that Ridley Scott was not going for the same reaction during Connie Nielsen’s final speech over Russell’s dead body – ‘Is Rome worth one good man’s life? Today, we celebrate… our Independence Day.’ Cheesus Christ.
Troy has some absolutely cracking scenes – Achilles’ introduction as he dispatches that rather tall gentlemen without even looking at him, when he takes out a Trojan using a javelin like a sniper rifle, and best of all his scrap with Hector, when he refuses to let that stone take his glory. Pitt’s chemistry with Cox is delicious, while a young Sharon-Ni-Bheolain-lookalike Diane Kruger’s Helen is just the cherry on top.
Not to mention the most awesome names ever: Agamemnon? Menelaus? Priam? Patroclus? My first four kids’ names right there.