Saturday, May 30, 2020

Echoes in Eternity, Part III - "Gladiator"


This is actually the movie that started me on the epic path that led to me also rewatching Troy and Alexander, but this is the last movie I’m writing about because it makes more sense chronologically (you’re getting a real glimpse at the complete lack of planning I undertake when I pick a movie to write about). Because of this, I actually have a lot less to say about Gladiator than the other two films. This is probably a good thing, though, as I tend to be long-winded with these articles, especially when I get on a philosophical kick. I just wanted to explain why my Gladiator article has the shortest Echoes in Eternity segment, even though the title of the series comes from this film.

Echoes in Eternity, Part III

If Troy and Alexander were partially about mythic and historical heroes slowly learning that glory doesn’t matter in the long run, then Gladiator is the logical conclusion because Maximus has no need for these lessons. Although there is little mention of the gods in Gladiator, it’s safe to assume that Maximus is aware of Achilles and Alexander. It’s possible that he learned from their tales and understands what is important in life.

Although Maximus spends most of this time away from his family, it is not for personal glory; he only wishes to serve Rome. He is dedicated to Marcus Aurelius, but he does not hold him above Rome itself. Because of this, Aurelius wisely chooses Maximus to become Protector of Rome upon his death, eventually returning the power of Rome over to the elected Senate.As with everything else in his life, Maximus reluctantly agrees out of a sense of duty.

For Maximus, a soldier’s life is about honor, not glory. He tells his soldiers at the beginning that, “What we do in life, echoes in eternity.” But he’s not telling these men that they will be remembered as Achilles and Alexander are. Instead, these men will simply play their part in events that will change the world. It is in the afterlife that they will find peace and happiness, but they must be brave and honorable to find that peace. 

A religious promise of future reward might be as empty as the glory sought by Achilles and Alexander, but at least it’s a bit more reasonable and possible. Certainly, if you were a foot soldier, you would be more likely to believe in the reward of a peaceful afterlife than in the possibility that you would become so famous in battle that stories are told of your exploits for generations to come. 

Gladiator is the more modern look at motivation during such times. It also leans more into nationalism than the other films do, which is more reminiscent of the modern era, as well. Serving in the military in today’s world is definitely more about serving your country than seeking personal glory. And religion plays a factor in most countries, as well, so the promise of a good afterlife due to your sacrifice for the greater good is still relevant.

That promise of the afterlife makes the “echoes in eternity” line make the most sense for this film. While Achilles offered “immortality” and Alexander claimed his men could “conquer death,” the eternity they both sought was not really infinite. They sought to be remembered, and eventually memory, even for the most famous of us, will fade. Maximus’s promise deals with the afterlife, which is supposed to be forever.

The ultimate goal of these three men, though, is the same: I want my men to fight for me with passion and hope. All of this talk of eternity is just motivation. The question is what is truly honorable. 

We live in a time in which people can support the troops but disagree with their mission. This is something the men in these films had to grapple with, too. Why should Achilles or his men care about Troy? Why should Alexander’s men care about pushing further into the unknown? Why should Maximus’s men care about Germania? Maximus, after all, is from Spain, not Rome. So why does he care?

Gladiator makes it clear that he shouldn’t. Marcus Aurelius tells Maximus as much, but Maximus cannot accept it because he has led men to their death during these campaigns. After Aurelius is killed by Commodus, however, Maximus must accept that his service may not have been as important or honorable as he had hoped.

After his family is killed, Maximus is as disillusioned as a person can be. He eventually begins to fight out of necessity in the gladiator games, but his spirit returns to him with the promise of revenge. His stint as a simple gladiator is soulless. There is no honor in what he is doing, and he is sickened by it. Only when the possibility of revenge comes into play does he regain the sense of purpose he had at the beginning of the film. And if he can also save Rome along the way, well, why not?

Maximus comes full circle in the end, and it’s hinted that he reaches the afterlife he promised his men. He finds his peace by fighting the honorable fight. Maximus’s actions have a direct effect on the world he leaves behind, but they will echo for eternity in the afterlife he has earned.

Extended Cuts Are Not Director’s Cuts...and Should Not Exist.

Director’s cuts can change films in major ways, and no director has proven this more than Ridley Scott. Blade Runner is the famous example, but his director’s cut of Kingdom of Heaven transformed that film from a mediocre historical epic into a truly great film. Any issue I had with the theatrical cut was addressed and fixed in his new cut. Because of this, I’m always on the lookout for new versions of Scott’s films. So when I saw the “Extended Cut” of Gladiator, I was intrigued. But I was tricked by the studio, and Scott even warned me about it.

When you choose to watch the extended cut, you can also watch an intro from Scott. He looks annoyed to be giving the intro in the first place, which is a bad sign, and he goes on to tell you that this extended cut is NOT his director’s cut. I should have stopped there.

Basically, an extended cut is just the theatrical cut of a movie with deleted scenes inserted back in. But, as anyone who has watched the deleted scenes on any DVD, those scenes were cut for a reason. You can look up all the differences here, but I wanted to point out my issues with the most noticeable changes:

*The German dude talks about how a gladiator can gain his freedom (how many fights and whatnot). The wormy guy who eventually pisses himself talks about how he can’t do that. 

My issue here is that we don’t need to know the specifics of gaining freedom. In fact, it’s better if we think these guys have to do this indefinitely. It adds to the plight of their situation. As for the wormy guy, I think the pissing scene in the theatrical makes it clear that this guy doesn’t have what it takes. We don’t need him to flat out tell us this.

*Proximo lectures Maximus about how he needs to entertain the audience rather than just win the match. This happens right before the famous “Are you not entertained?” scene.

This completely takes away from that moment. Instead of Maximus coming to the realization that the audience is getting bored with his skill on his own, he is now directly responding to Proximo. I find that much weaker. There’s already enough tension with Maximus and Proximo. I liked Maximus acknowledging the shitty audience, since the “mob” of Rome is referred to so often in the film. It’s further evidence that the commoners are simple and just want to see blood, and they need someone more than just an entertainer to lead them, which makes Maximus’s quest to unseat Commodus that much more powerful.

*There are multiple scenes in which the selling of grain reserves is discussed.

I’m all for a film acknowledging the realism of ruling an empire, but the goal here is to show that Commodus is a shitty ruler, and I think we understand he’s a bad person when he murders his father in one of his first scenes. Plus, talks of grain reserves reminds me of all the trade blockade stuff from The Phantom Menace (I actually love that movie, but I don’t give a fuck if Naboo is under a blockade).

*Commodus takes a sword to a bust of his father, then breaks down crying and hugs it.

Once again, the murder scene at the beginning already established that Commodus feelings towards his dad.

*The men who helped Maximus escape are rounded up and executed on Commodus’s order.

First off, I assumed this happened anyway. Secondly, we don’t need yet another example of Commodus being a brutal, shitty leader. It’s been well established at this point.

None of these scenes are bad. They are just unnecessary and mess with the flow of the film. They would be fine as deleted scenes, which is exactly what they are. It’s bad enough that the studios lure me in with director’s cuts, but these extended cuts are straight up bullshit. At least I know now...but I’ll still buy shit like this. At least the theatrical cut is still an option on the blu-ray.

Why Do I Own This?

I love epics, and this is the movie that led to movies like Troy and Alexander getting greenlit. It’s so fucking good. I’ve watched it at least a dozen times, and I revisit it every couple of years. I’ll just be staying away from that extended cut.

Random Thoughts

This section is shorter than usual because most of the notes I had concerned the extended cut additions. Plus, it’s an awesome movie, and I lost myself in it.

Ridley Scott gives an incredibly unenthusiastic introduction to the extended cut on the blu-ray. It’s the rare instance in which Scott approves of the theatrical cut.

Nice establishing scene showing Commodus is a badass with a sword while also generally being a sniveling pussy man who spends most of the movie trying to fuck his sister.

I like how Maximus just cucks Commodus in every aspect of his life. Commodus wants his father to love him, but his father loves Maximus more. Commodus wants to bang his sister, but she wants to bang Maximus. Commodus wants to rule Rome, but his father wants Maximus to take over. Commodus wants Lucius to see him as a father figure, but Lucius idolizes Maximus. Commodus wants the love of the mob, but they love Maximus. Can you blame Commodus for wanting to kill Maximus? Don’t get me wrong, he still sucks. But I get why he wants Maximus gone.

Omid Djalili was the go-to wormy Middle Eastern guy for a couple years with this and The Mummy.

I still love Maximus's speech to Commodus. It’s an all-time badass moment for Russell Crowe.


Echoes in Eternity, Part II - "Alexander"


Moving on with my Echoes in Eternity trilogy, I revisited Alexander (technically titled Alexander Revisited: The Final Cut), which is chronologically and thematically the logical next film to watch. But before I get into the themes of immortality and glory, I need to address all the different versions of this chaotic film from Oliver Stone. I saw the theatrical cut in theaters and honestly liked it a lot. I admired the ambition of it, and even if Colin Farrell’s hair looked goofy at times, I loved his unhinged performance. But it was destroyed by critics, and it was a bomb. Stone made a director’s cut for the home video release that was oddly shorter in an attempt to make the movie more action-packed and digestible. After DVD sales did surprisingly well, Stone was allowed to make this “final” cut, which added pretty much everything he filmed to the movie. Due to the success of that release, he then made an “Ultimate Cut,” which I only learned about after rewatching the final cut. From what I’ve read, the Ultimate Cut is a little shorter but very similar to the Final Cut, so I doubt I will buy this movie again. Anyway, this article is based on the Final Cut, and not we know that “ultimate” is more final than “final.” Perhaps some day I’ll write about the eventual “Immortal Cut.”

Echoes in Eternity, Part II

Alexander is the logical next film to write about because it references Achilles so often. Alexander is constantly told he is Achilles (Hephaestion is his Patroclus) and is a son of Zeus. Because of this (and the fact that he is a king, he feels the need to prove himself and gain enough glory to be remembered along with the heroes of myth.

For Alexander, it’s not just about winning battles, though. Unlike Troy, which makes the fighting seem more important than the war itself, Alexander is about gaining fame by changing the world with war. Alexander isn’t trying to conquer the known world for bragging rights. He dreams of unifying the world and bringing it peace...through war. 

Alexander is a bit misguided and naive in his goal for world peace, but at least he’s aiming for more than just glory. He wants his triumphs to mean something. This is a refreshing progression from the ideas posited in Troy concerning glory and fame beyond death. Still, Alexander is seemingly punished for his goal, and is warned about it, as well.

A key scene in the film takes place in a cave of murals with Alexander’s father, Philip, talking about the myths and the gods. He talks about how the gods, and time itself, will destroy everything in the end, and that men are “slaves” to the gods, or simply the progression of time. Nothing man can do will be permanent. Glory will always be temporary. But, like most heroes, these warnings fall on deaf ears for Alexander. It’s a common theme in films about ambitious people; they’re told something is impossible or pointless, but they do it anyway and prove the naysayers wrong. But with Alexander, the naysayer is right because reality is right. Time will destroy everything. 

Ptolemy confirms this in his final scene. He explains how forty years after Alexander’s death, his empire was gone. So what was the point? Was it to be painted on the walls like Achilles? It seems as if Alexander himself realizes in the end that there’s no comfort in knowing he built an empire that would be remembered for years. He died surrounded by people but actually alone. All around him were just concerned with what power they would retain, gain, or lose upon Alexander’s death. 

Alexander seemed to realize, after Hephaestion’s death, that his conquests, great as they may be, were for nothing if he ended up being alone. All through the film, everyone pleaded with him to return to Babylon to take control of his empire, but also to enjoy himself and have a life. As usual with characters such as Alexander, he only realizes the wisdom of these requests too late. But had he heeded them, there would be no story to tell in the first place.

That is the paradox of stories like Alexander. They glorify these flawed, ambitious people while also conveying the message that they should have never bothered with all of this in the first place. This isn’t a fault in the story; it’s a truth about life and the passage of time. It’s natural to want to be remembered, but the more people who end up remembering you, the fewer you end up with in your life that have a real connection with. Sure, Alexander had plenty of lovers and whatnot, but he was too consumed with his goal of conquest to have an actual life with any of them. The same goes for anyone today who becomes famous or memorable or whatever. They must devote so much time to their work or expanding their influence that any attempt at a normal, real life is lost. 

But once again, even those that we eventually watch movies about will be forgotten. So even when someone like Alexander achieves his goal of immortality through fame, it’s not truly immortality because it’s finite. It may last thousands of years, but there will be an end to it.

Alexander is unique because it addresses this a bit. Along with the cave scene with Philip, there’s the sequence near the end of the film with Alexander’s men becoming tired of fighting. Alexander chastises them for “falling in love with the things that destroy men.” He means the comforts of life (gaining money and taking wives and whatnot), but he also seems to be talking about forming emotional attachments that keep you from questing for glory. His soldiers yell at him about wanting to see their children and grandchildren again before they die. Is love for your children a “thing” that destroys men? The soldiers have reached their breaking point because you can only ask a foot soldier to continue for so long just for glory. These men know their names will be lost to time; they want to spend what time they have left with the few people who will remember them. At this point in the film, though, Alexander is still more in love with creating his myth than he is with any actual person.

Alexander finally decides to go home after a brush with death, but he would have been better off dying on the battlefield. Sure, he realizes what he missed out on while he dies, but the tragedy of Alexander is that he would never be able to enjoy life. He could only think of missed opportunities at a regular life when he was physically dying. When Alexander was healthy, he would only think of the next conquest. This is why we remember him, for now, and it’s why he died surrounded by power-hungry vultures instead of loved ones.

Why Do I Own This?

I know this movie gets shit on and outright dismissed by a lot of people, but I love it. On top of the cinematic elements I enjoy (the scope of it, the unhinged performances, the battles, etc.), any movie that can make me ponder what it means to live is a movie I want to own and watch again. Also, I’ve enjoyed every version of this movie, and I’m a sucker for new cuts of movies I like. But I have reached my limit with this one, especially since the most recent cut was part of a collector’s set that would cost at least $40. I just can’t bring myself to spend any more money on this film.

Random Thoughts

Stone’s introduction is great. “If you hated it, you’ll probably hate it more.” He doesn’t give a fuck at this point. He just made the version he wanted to see, and it’s honestly better because of it.

I love the shot when the camera leaves Alexander’s speech to follow a bird as it flies over the battleground. 

I like a good pre-battle speech as much as anyone, but let’s face it, maybe ten percent of Alexander’s men heard what he was saying.

More war movies should let the audience know which part of the battle we’re seeing.

At one point, one of Alexander’s commanders yells, “Back and to the left! Back and to the left!” No way that’s an accidental quote from JFK.

You have to appreciate a battle scene in which someone decapitates an enemy, and then uses the head as a weapon.

“Alexander, at 25, was now king of all.” Fuck. I was just the king of Jagerbombs when I was 25, and even then that’s a stretch. Maybe an archduke of Jagerbombs is more accurate…

Val Kilmer’s Philip is pretty much his Jim Morrison constantly at his most fucked up.

Brian Blessed as a wrestling instructor is perfect casting.

“Do I seem so old?” No, you don’t Angelina, and you’re definitely too young to play Farrell’s mother since you’re less than one fucking year older than him!

The cave scene with Val Kilmer is just a series of quotable lines. The scene itself is basically there to map out the plot for Alexander. “You’ll defy the gods and gain glory, but it will all be destroyed in the end. But even knowing this, you’ll try it anyway.”

Jonathan Rhys Meyers’s line reading of, “Alexander, be reasonable!” is so fucking strange and out of nowhere.

I can’t think of a more awkward wedding night than having your new wife discover your male lover and your eunuch lover. That’s something you really need to ease your new spouse into…

“When the local water turned putrid, we drank the strong wine.”

The last hour is easily my favorite as it shows Farrell at his craziest.

Easily my favorite image of the film is Alexander and Bucephalus facing off against the elephant.

No one before or since has said, "Execute him!" better than Farrell in this movie. Nor will they ever.


Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Echoes in Eternity, Part I - "Troy"


Three podcasts dictate a lot of my viewing habits these days: How Did This Get Made?, The Rewatchables, and Knowing You Know Nothing. Typically, I tend to only write about movies I watch for Knowing because I actually take part in the episode. But if a movie I watch for the other two inspires something, I go with it. In this case, The Rewatchables did an episode of Gladiator, so I decided to rewatch that and write about it. It also made me want to watch other epic films I owned, especially when I thought of a unifying theme among them. In Gladiator, Maximus tells his men before battle, “What we do in life, echoes in eternity.” This line reminded me of themes in Troy and Alexander, as well. I’ve watched all three recently, and I decided to write about them in chronological order (by their setting, not by their release date). The main reason for this is that each film after Troy makes reference to myths and being remembered and whatnot (especially Alexander). There’s also the rabbit hole of director’s and extended cuts I get to go down, too. So with that written, here’s the beginning of the “Echoes in Eternity” Trilogy.

Echoes in Eternity, Part I

Troy is based on a myth (there is debate about whether or not a war really happened, but even if it did, Homer likely dramatized the hell out of it), so it’s ripe with speeches and comments about being remembered and living a life of glory. In fact, one could argue that the film hits you over the head with the theme a few too many times. But myths tend to be simplistic, so I forgive Troy

The focus of the film is on Achilles, who is pretty much a dick for the first two-thirds of the film. He only wants to fight in the war so he will be remembered as a great warrior and hero. He’s told early on by his mother that he can go and fight and live on as a legend, or he can stay home and make a life for himself but only his family will remember him. Obviously he chooses glory on the battlefield. I’ll get more into the glory vs. family argument in the next section. For now, I want to focus on this idea of having to fight to be remembered.

While looting and whatnot is shown as a motivation for the soldiers in Troy, they are mainly sold on the idea of fighting as a way to earn glory and have their name live on beyond death. Achilles yells before a battle, “Immortality! Take it! It’s yours!” But Achilles is already famous. His name will achieve immortality, but most of his fellow soldiers will be forgotten; they fight for the chance that their names will be remembered.

Not to go off on too much of a tangent here, but it’s kind of a metaphor for capitalism. Here’s a system that can potentially allow you to become insanely wealthy, but odds are you’ll scrape by and eventually die unnoticed. But we all keep grasping for that slight chance. 

Troy posits that even just trying at least means something. When a boy tells Achilles that he “wouldn’t want to fight” Boagrius, Achilles responds, “That is why no one will remember your name.” The dickishness of that statement aside, it says a lot about the mentality towards war in the film. It’s not about fighting for a noble cause or even fighting for a country; it’s about being willing to fight. It’s a timeless motivation that stands to this day. Look at most ads for military service, and you’ll find a message along the lines of, “Very few are willing or able to take on this challenge.” It’s a great motivator, and I find it to be true. What they don’t do is promise you the chance to become an immortal hero known forever. That bit about being a soldier seems to have been left behind once, you know, following orders became the most important part of the training.

Perhaps immortality is lacking in recruitment ads, but it’s still a part of the soldier experience. With Memorial Day fresh on my mind coupled with Veterans Day, there are yearly holidays meant to honor those who have fought and/or died. The difference is that individual notice is left to the family of the service member. In a way, both family and glory are covered in modern times. As a soldier who fought and/or died, you are commemorated as a whole by the country at large, but it’s your family that remembers your name and story. This seems like a much better way to look at military service, especially since military service is typically entered by people who want to do their part, not by people just wanting recognition. Of course, Achilles would disagree with this (at least the Achilles from the beginning of the movie), although Hector would embrace this.

Family vs. Glory 

Hector is really the hero of Troy, even if more time is spent with Achilles. He fights for his homeland, not for glory. He has a family he wants to protect, and war is thrust upon him rather than sought out. He is living proof that you don’t have to choose between a family life or glory; both are possible, even if most films argue against it.

This made me think of a recent film I wrote about: The Truman Show. In that film, the possibility of Truman having a child with his fake wife seems like the potential nail in his coffin. If he has a kid, then no way will he ever escape the prison of the show and be allowed to live a real life. In film, and often in life, starting a family is seen as the death of any individual goals for the parents, and that’s truly unfortunate. 

Yes, having kids changes things, and if you have normal human emotions, your family becomes more important than yourself. But this does not mean that individual growth and achievement die. As a parent, my family is my main concern, but I still find time to write and learn new things. I’m not trying to be remembered for all time or anything, but I’ve put out enough material that people will likely still stumble across my articles after I’m dead. It’s not Achilles-level fame, but I have produced work that will survive me. But I don’t care; this is something I do for fun. If I was single and childless, nothing would be different in regards to my film writing. So why do movies like this make it seem like a family will hold a person back?

Achilles is told by his mother that a family will bring him happiness, but once a couple generations are gone, his memory will die, too. He must choose to go to war and be remembered or have a family and be forgotten. But why? For mythical reasons, I get it, but why is it not possible for Achilles to simply have a family that he can return to after war? Odysseus has this, so why can’t Achilles?

For the purposes of the film, it’s for character development. Achilles finally learns that a family that cares for you is more important than fame after death. Tragically, he realizes this too late. It takes Achilles’s interactions with Hector, then Priam, to understand that a life with Briseis will bring him happiness. But deciding to be with her is what leads to his death. Choosing to have a family gets him killed. Why? The myth and the film make it seem like only lonely, dead people are remembered for the ages. It’s bleak, but perhaps it’s a good lesson for people to learn: if your sole focus is your lasting name, then prepare for death and misery. For Achilles, he simply realized his error too late. His name is remembered, but as Hector might ask, so what?

Hector tells Achilles when they first meet that eventually they’ll all be dust, so what’s the point of fighting for the glory of it? This is a common theme regarding people who strive to make a lasting impact on this world (“Ozymandias” comes to mind). Try as hard as you like, but eventually all will be forgotten. I wish this film took that a bit further because, some day, it’s possible that everything will be forgotten. I don’t bring this up to bum people out. I see this as even more reason to enjoy those around you. Who gives a fuck if they tell stories about you for a couple thousand years? Will knowing that you’ll be remembered by strangers long after your death fill the void that you’re missing by being alone?

Striving to be remembered by people I will never meet seems so stupid to me. Perhaps this is why no one in the future will remember my name, but at least the people I love know it now.

Troy, the Director's Cut: Now with Baby-Throwing!

Due to the amount of money movies like this cost, creative control is usually taken away from the director in the interest of getting a short, action-packed, PG-13 rated film into the theaters as fast as possible. If a director is lucky, they’ll be given the chance to finish the movie later for a home video release. The best example of this is Kingdom of Heaven, the director’s cut of which is a wholly different, and exponentially better film. Now it’s almost a requirement that a movie like Troy receives the extended or director’s cut treatment. 

There isn’t a Kingdom-level change to Troy with Wolfgang Peterson’s director’s cut, but it is a much better movie. It’s longer, which allows the war to sink in with the audience and characters, but more importantly, it’s much more brutal than the theatrical cut.

Normally, I just like gory action movies more than bloodless ones. I want a bit of realism with the action, but it’s more than just adding “Oh, shit!” moments like legs being hacked or heads being smashed. It’s about war being presented in a miserable light. 

Hector talks to Paris about he knows nothing about war and death, and in the theatrical cut, the audience doesn’t either. With the director’s cut, we learn how horrific war can be. The action scenes are visceral and stay with you much longer than before. And one new element is deeply disturbing.

If you didn’t hate most of the Greeks already, the sack of Troy should push you over the edge in this new cut. It’s bad enough to see defenseless people of all kinds killed, but rarely does a film show what happens to babies during such a situation. There are multiple babies ripped from their mother’s arms and thrown. It’s shocking to see. It’s rare for a war movie to have much of an effect on me these days, but Troy did. These newly brutal scenes make Hector’s dialogue mean something this time around. Not only does Paris learn what Hector meant; the audience does, too, thanks to this director’s cut.

Why Do I Own This?

I bought this when it first came out because I was a fan of the theatrical cut. When I saw the director's cut as part of a 3-pack (along with 300 and the final cut of Alexander), I bought it again. I'm just a fan of epics.

Random Thoughts


I was in college when this came out, and my Humanities professor was against this movie for the Brad Pitt casting alone. He claimed that Pitt was way too small for the role. I don’t hold the source material so sacred, but I get it. It’s hard not to slightly hate Pitt for being so cocky in the movie. If he was a foot taller and bulked out (you know, like Boagrius), I would feel differently. Still, I’m okay with Pitt in this movie, but overall it’s not a fitting role for him. I found Eric Bana as Hector much more suitably cast.

Eric Bana’s reaction to Orlando Bloom claiming he’ll die fighting is fucking perfect. I can best describe it as incredulous disgust.

It’s strange how much crossover there is with this cast and Braveheart (Brian Cox, James Cosmo, Brendan Gleeson). All these Scottish dudes suddenly became Greek and Trojan.

Orlando Bloom acting like a little tough guy is the funniest part of this movie. I wish Eric Bana would slap him around a bit and shut him up.

“Immortality! Take it! It’s yours!” I’ve never liked Pitt’s line delivery. I think it’s because he is just too laid back most of the time, both in real life and as a character. I can’t believe the dude who’s always snacking in Ocean’s 11 when he talks about gaining immortality through battle.

Pitt making Garrett Hedlund stay back with the boat is a bit of a metaphor for Hedlund’s career. It seemed like he was meant to be the next Pitt at some point in his career, just didn’t happen. He never left the boat.

Ajax’s little announcement when he lands on the beach is a bit silly, but when you’re that badass with a warhammer, I guess you can say stupid shit sometimes.

Eudoros’s complete shock at Achilles’s defiling of the temple is a really great piece of silent acting. Pitt’s chest thumping followed by, “Huh?” as a taunt is a little less effective. 

I wish they would have made a version of The Odyssey with Sean Bean. Not sure how exactly it could be done in the same vein as this movie with how they portray the gods as invisible or nonexistent, but I would have liked to have seen what they came up with. 

Apparently the director’s cut is much more interested in nudity, as well. There are a lot more butts and boobs in this movie. The brutal war stuff is more effective, but the nudity helps, too.

"It is no insult to say a dead man is dead."

Agamemnon is definitely in the running for shittiest cinematic king. "I didn't touch the girl! But I did hand her off to a pack of horny, ill-tempered soldiers."

The odd thing about this movie is that I kind of hate everyone involved except for Eric Bana and Sean Bean. It's weird to watch a war movie told more from the perspective of a villain (the Greeks, and Achilles, at least until he grows a heart after talking to Priam) rather than the hero (Hector).

"I want to taste what Achilles tasted." Agamemnon really wants to be eskimo brothers with Achilles. Weird…