BY BERT EHRMANN
If there’s one thing that Hollywood can teach all of America, it’s that success breeds, well, imitation. A few years back movies based on the second world war were all the rage. Remember Saving Private Ryan which begat The Thin Red Line which begat Windtalkers? Then there were the two comet verses the Earth movies of Deep Impact and Armageddon. The mantra in Hollywood seems to be we can do it better, or at least make more money trying. You can count on if one studio has a movie in the works based on the life of the Buffalo Bill then another is working on one about Billy the Kid.
2004 is no different. This year the path every studio seems to be going down is to make a classic epic ala 1999’s Gladiator.
First on the list is Troy. It’s got to be the only movie this year to give story credit to a man who’s been dead for a few a few thousand years since Troy is based off of Homer’s epic The Iliad. Millions of students suffered through this book in high school and would be familiar with the story. Set in ancient Greece, a love between Helen and Paris, the person played by Orlando Bloom and not the city, inflames Greece into a war with the Trojans. Brad Pitt plays the great warrior Achilles who has but one weakness. (*Hint, it has something to do with his name. See the bottom of the article for the answer.) For those of us who just read the Cliff Notes and not the whole book, it’s the one with the men sneaking into Troy via a wooden horse.
Troy has everything going for it; an epic story that has been enjoyed by millions thousands of years and Brad Pitt. Although an epic story like The Iliad is good, it’s Brad that brings the crowds into the theaters.
If The Iliad does well at the box office expect The Iliad 2: The Odyssey to hit theaters soon after.
Up next is director Oliver Stone’s Alexander. The story behind Alexander follows the young king Alexander (aka Alexander the Great) who conquered most of the known world and named a city after himself by the time he was 30. (Then again he was dead by 32 but who says that you can’t take it with you?)
Alexander stars Colin Farrell in the title role, Angelina Jolie, and Oliver Stone favorite Val Kilmer. I’m just guessing that Jolie and Farrell star as love interests. However, supposedly Alexander is described as a lover of men and women. So who knows, maybe it’s Angelina who hooks up with Colin who hooks up with Val. (I swear, it’s the last time that I’ll write the words hooks up here in Dangerous Universe.)
I can’t wait to see the computer generated elephants crossing a computer generated Alps this summer. (You just know they’ll be computer generated. I’m sure PETA frowns on dead elephants on mountain tops.) So far, Alexander has filmed in London, Morocco, and Thailand.
After Alexander you can stick around for uber-producer Jerry Bruckheimer’s version of King Arthur. (Yes, Jerry Bruckheimer can do more than just produce the eight million versions of CSI.) King Arthur will take a more realistic approach to showing the King Arthur story than before. I’m guessing less shiny armor and more gray green dreck of the English countryside. Think less mysticism and more of the events surrounding the collapsing Roman empire. King Arthur stars Clive Owen (the BMW Films guy) and Keira Knightley (the one who looks just like Natalie Portman but really isn’t, at least that’s what the lawyers tell me.)
I’ve seen the trailer for this movie and have to say that the battle scenes in King Arthur look a lot like the battle scenes from Braveheart. Then again doesn’t every movie that’s set in the time of swords and axes feature battle scenes that looks a lot like Braveheart?
If you don’t want to pay the seven bucks to see King Arthur in the movie theater you can see another version of it on HBO. This mini-series will be produced by Steven Spielberg and will also focus on the Roman era in Great Britain. Missing from this version will be Excalibur, Merlin, and the knights. (No knights in King Arthur is kind of like not having any soldiers in Saving Private Ryan, but that’s just me.) Reportedly the Arthur character will be known as Artos and will be a blacksmith rather than a king.
This King Arthur will more historically accurate epic
and less over the top Hollywood grandiose production.
Regardless, I can’t wait to see movie after movie set in the time before English was a language.
* The answer: Everyone knows that Achilles real weakness was for cheeseburgers.