Troy Director's Cut Blu-ray Review
PictureThe 2.40:1 framing of Troy is simply gorgeous and this VC-1 transfer really does it justice with a rock steady and often marvellously crisp and clear image. The CG Greek armada to my eyes doesn't look quite as fake as it once did, perhaps fitting the scintillating seascape better with the hypnotic azure hue and radiant sunlight easing away some of the rough edges. Views of vast armies carry a great sense of weight and presence as their ranks stretch across the wide-screen image, making this picture as engrossing a tableau of eye candy as you could wish for. The source is excellent, the colours rich and vibrant and the skin-tones a magnificent shade of burnished gold. It may not be completely realistic to see so many gleaming tans filling the screen, but is is how we would expect the landscape and population of ancient Greece and Troy to look. Contrast is fine, although some of the blown whites evident on the SD and earlier HD versions are still in evidence, though this time around they are not as noticeable. Blacks are good, but I feel they could have been deeper and more stable. Some darker interiors and external night-scenes lack strength and depth though, overall, this is only a minor complaint.
Although I don't think that this transfer of Troy truly pops from the screen as a whole, there are still some terrific three-dimensional shots on offer that really show off this image at its best. For instance, when Achilles' ship ploughs up the Trojan beach at the start of the invasion, it really looks as though it is about to emerge from the right hand side of the screen, and the sudden rushing image of wooden planking is tremendously detailed. Depth is grandly realised within the many mass charges that take place. The big centre-piece battle is an obvious standout in this department. Just gape at that zooming overhead shot as the two armies clash and revel in the amazing depth of field that is produced as soldiers just seem to carry on way, way back into the distance. The CG figures in the distance stand up well to scrutiny as well - in fact the massive panoramic shots of scurrying soldiers filling the horizon from end to end, whether in battle or in retreat, look simply amazing. Close-ups of characters, most notably Achilles as he stares out over the prow of his ship, or looks over his shoulder at the army chanting his name, possess a sharpness that is glorious to behold ... yet such moments of intense 1080p beauty can often be let down by the blooming of the whites which can blow out detail in the surroundings, softening peripheral details slightly. But this is still a splendid transfer for large scale imagery.
Detail is, on the whole, quite impressive. Armour, weaponry, buildings, landscapes and statuary, and now some new gaping wounds as well, all look crisp and cleanly etched. Troy, itself, looks fantastic and one or two shots - the entrance of Paris and Helen, and the imposing high walls as seen from the Greeks' point of view, etc - really are engrossing and urge the eyes to rove about and examine. The impossibly huge canvas of running, stabbing and battling figures on the immense plains before Troy are intricately rendered. It is true that the image can often be soft around the edges, but the scrapping en masse is breathtaking. Distant figures can be seen clearly wading in and hacking. The Greek retreat offers up more detail in the distance of stragglers being caught and picked off which wasn't as clear before.
I did see some slight edge enhancement and a little bit of noise in the image, but certainly nothing to detract from the enjoyment in any way. There was even an instance when a slight patch of green seemed to follow Achilles across the screen for a second which unfortunately caught my eye. And, having seen this now on two different panels and sent from two different players, I can say that this slight effect was apparent on both occasions.
So, just to clarify, this BD transfer has plenty of positives - nice depth, good colours and some often striking detail. It seems sharper than the early HD version too.
SoundWell, I would be lying if I said that I wasn't slightly disappointed with the PCM 5.1 track that makes its Troy debut here on Blu-ray. To me, this just wasn't as bombastic or as room-filling as I'd hoped it would be. Whilst unmistakably better than the DD 5.1 track that accompanies it, there is still a lack of oomph to the battles and the dramatic large-scale shifting of huge bodies of men and equipment. It is certainly active, and all the channels are utilised, but the enveloping immersion of the ancient world stops some way short of being fully encompassing.
We have plenty of sub-action, though. The armies meeting at Thessaly and then outside the gates of Troy have weight and impact. The beaching of Achilles' ship grinds through the LFE and the statues being pulled down in the palace are lent a solidity that is tangible. The big clash of Greeks and Trojans is keenly felt as well. But the overall dynamism of the tracks - both PCM and DD - aren't as detailed with far-reaching effects or subtleties as many other epically designed soundscapes. The intricacies of far-ranging steel on steel clanging and clashing as evidenced in 300 is nowhere near as cleanly presented and the amassed noise from a gazillion arrows hissing through the air isn't as eerily organic, although the little slicing impacts into vulnerable flesh sound quite cool and are well-dotted about the design. Horner's music comes across very well - despite those daft little alterations I mentioned - but the environment it tumbles over is not as wide or as sweeping as I had hoped. There are times when the voices don't sound right, either. Achilles talking to Briseis at the end has a voice that sounds like it is emanating in a small room rather than open ground before a temple. Sundry other exchanges don't sound as clear or distinct as they should and it is perhaps true that it is the reinstated scenes that suffer most obviously from this lack of correct mixing.
But let me also point out that, the PCM track is still a good one, folks. The rears pick up and project a lot of atmosphere; steerage around the speakers is virtually seamless, with excellent positioning of massed voices, banging steel and movement; the quieter moments are warm and convincing; the front has a wide spread that makes the film feel opened out at least in that direction. But it just doesn't do anything especially spectacular, as far I am concerned.
The HD Director's Cut has a Dolby TrueHD track that is, by all accounts, identical to the PCM mix found here.
ExtrasThe previous HD release of Troy had a feature that is not present on the either the BD or the new HD Director's Cut edition, but I don't think that the loss of a map of ancient Greece will be too keenly felt. You will also notice that the In-Movie Experience that adorned it is not available on either the BD or the new HD Director's Cut editions. But, again, this will hardly be fretted over as most of the same information that it contained has been incorporated into two “new” featurettes.
Commencing with the director's two-minute introduction to his newer cut, Troy comes fairly well-stocked with features. I would have liked a commentary track from Petersen and a few of the stars perhaps, but you can have everything.
The original three featurettes from the SD amount to around 42 mins. In The Thick Of The Battle takes a little look at how the now even more impressive battle scenes were conceived and created for the screen and is fairly enjoyable. From Ruins To Reality is a 14 minute examination how archaeologists excavated the original site where Troy is believed to have stood and the detail that the filmmakers strived to bring to their production design. Troy: An Effects Odyssey is the now-obligatory overview of how the visual effects were achieved in seven little bite-sized parts that don't really reveal anything that you haven't, by now, seen covered on a hundred other releases.
Then we get the two new featurettes that have, in actual fact, been lifted straight from the In-Movie Experience from the prior release. That said though, these are still welcome additions here. Troy In Focus is a 23-minute look at the entire production, from initial concept of adapting Homer, right through the casting of the characters, the weapons and fighting, the Trojan Horse and then the editing. Here is where Petersen and writer Beniof reveal the necessity and difficulties of bringing Homer's grand tale to a more accessible theatrical length.
In “Attacking Troy”, which runs for about 15-minutes, the gory battles are comprehensively dissected in three parts that I found brief but enjoyable. Historical accuracy is revealed as well as the inevitable desire to show something new with regards to cinematic carnage. Naturally, with this cut of the film, we can now properly appreciate what they were striving for.
Then we get the daft but amusing little piece of CG fluff that is “Greek Ship Towing” which is just a slice of animation frivolity in that we get to see one of the thousand warships being pursued by giant rubber ducks. Yeah, I know, I know. The animation is pretty crude but the minute-long snippet still made me smirk.
And finally there is the theatrical trailer.
All things considered, this is a fairly entertaining cluster of features, but there is nothing here that you wouldn't already have seen from the original HD release ... well, there are those rubber ducks, I suppose. Still, if this is going to be the definitive version of Troy, I would have liked more comparison and explanations about the different cuts.
VerdictThis really is a no-brainer, folks. If you are already a fan of Troy then this version will amply supply you with more of the stuff you enjoyed first time around. The characters are given more scenery to chew and, whilst it may be debatable as to whether or not they actually deserved it, their intertwined destinies gain more poignancy as a result. The film feels much bigger, albeit slightly more leisurely in places. Musical alterations possibly bother me more than they will many other people, but even I can forgive them in exchange for the bloodier, more visceral skirmishes and the intensified finale that this cut delivers.
The BD and HD releases may lose one tiny little extra that the original HD had - the Gallery Of The Gods animated map - but overall this is a fine enough package to accompany Petersen's new broader take, even if much of it is familiar from earlier editions. The loss of the IME interactivity feature shouldn't be too devastating since most of its best elements have been ported over in another guise.
The transfer provides some glowing visuals but I feel that the sound is not up to scratch and doesn't do enough to particularly impress - which it should. I also do not like the strange liberties taken with the score, but these complaints are not enough to dissuade me from recommending this release. If you haven't seen any version of Troy then this cut represents the proper experience that was intended all along. And if you already have the theatrical version on disc, then I would still recommend dipping once again into the sparkling Aegean Sea for this fuller-bodied and more intense incarnation.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £21.69
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