An interesting take on the Trojan War. A must see!
Marcy Gomez | Kansas City, USA | 04/30/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Having enjoyed Homer's ?The Iliad? and Virgil's ?Aeneid? and as a long time fan of Greek mythology, I was looking forward with great anticipation to this mini-series. ?Helen of Troy? is a creditable follow-up to greek myth-based offerings such as ?The Odyssey? (starring Armand Assante), ?Clash of the Titans? and ?Jason and the Argonauts? (both versions) and is brought to us by USA Networks, which recently released the acclaimed mini-series ?Attila? (starring Gerard Butler). The first half of the story centers on Helen of Sparta (Sienna Guillory) and Paris of Troy (Matthew Marsden). It introduces us to Helen?s family - King Tyndareus, her sister Clytemnestra and brother Pollux (though his twin Castor is nowhere to be found) and shows the abduction of Helen by Thesseus, King of Athens (Stellan Skarsgard). We are also introduced to Paris/Alexandros who is fated to cause the destruction of Troy should he live. On his birth, Prince Alexandros is therefore left on top of Mount Aida to die but is taken in by a shepherd and raised as his own son (hence, re-named Paris). As a young man, Paris discovers his true heritage and is reconciled with his family - namely, King Priam (John Rhys-Davies), Queen Hecuba (Maryam d?Abo), Prince Hector (Daniel Lapaine) and Princess Cassandra (Emilia Fox). Helen marries King Menelaus (James Callis) of Sparta, younger brother to the power-hungry and vicious King Agammemnon (Rufus Sewell), whose thirst for power is so great that he makes the ultimate sacrifice in his quest to become king of the Aegean. When Helen and Paris meet, fall in love and elope, the stage is set for Agammemnon to use the elopement as an excuse to declare war on Troy. Those of us who are familiar with tales of ancient Greece know how it all ends, but this adaptation does provide a few surprises and some notable changes to Homer and Virgil?s tales.Highlights of this mini-series are the memorable performances, attractive cast, high production values and outstanding special effects. Rufus Sewell (?Cold Comfort Farm,? ?The Very Thought of You? and BBC?s ?Middlemarch?), newcomer Matthew Marsden (?Black Hawk Down?), Emilia Fox (?Pride and Prejudice,? ?The Round Tower?) and veteran John Rhys-Davies (?The Lord of the Rings,? ?Indiana Jones?) provide great performances. Kudos goes to Rufus Sewell for his fantastic performance as the hard-hearted and villainous Agammemnon. Matthew Marsden and Daniel Lapaine (Prince Hector - though sadly in a much reduced role) are likeable, handsome, charismatic heroes. The locations in Malta are believable and realistic. The story itself is compelling and provides a great introduction to those who are unfamiliar with the Trojan War.The mini-series does have its shortcomings. For one, I was not impressed with Sienna Guillory?s performance as Helen. To be true, anyone who takes on the role of Helen carries a great deal of weight on her shoulders. After all, very few women can live up to being called ?the most beautiful woman in the world.? Though pretty, Seinna's beauty and talent fall a little short of the demands of the role and she sometimes plays Helen as a pouty, simpering little brat. I was also disappointed at the treatment of Menelaus and Hector. While Menelaus (who barely fights in the book) is treated as this ?kick ...? warrior, the ?mighty? Hector (who is the equivalent of ?Gladiator?s? Maximus and is one of the greatest warriors in classic literature) actually takes a good beating from his enemies! Achilles is, at best, a one-dimensional ?he man? who is all brawn but no brains.All these grievances aside, this is an enjoyable mini-series that deserves to be seen. I will most likely purchase this when it comes out on DVD. Those who enjoy a good dose of mythology and ancient/classic tales will no doubt enjoy this. I am now looking forward even more to the upcoming film version of the Trojan War - ?Troy? (starring Brad Pitt, Eric Bana, Sean Bean and Orlando Bloom) - and hope to see a slightly different take on this classic story of love, hate, greed, revenge and honor."
Small screen retelling of The Illaid
Wayne Klein | My Little Blue Window, USA | 09/09/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Although it lacks the grandeur, spectacle and cinematic composition of Wolfgang Peterson's film version, "Helen of Troy" does a credible and interesting job of presenting Homer's The Illiad. With some stunning performances by Rufus Sewell ("Dark City"), Stellan Skarsgard ("The Exorcist-The Beginning)and John Rhys Davies ("Raiders of the Lost Ark")and a number of nice action pieces, "Helen of Troy" does simplify the tale quite a bit but also manages to get in some dramatic and powerful moments as well.
This three hour movie doesn't have any cut sequences or any scenes specifically for the international market, so you're not getting anything you didn't see on the USA Network when it was broadcast last year. The picture quality is good with solid colors and blacks but the overall feel of the film lacks the epic scope and digitally enhanced battle sequences that made Petersen's film so memorable.
The DVD also includes a 20 minute featurette on the making of the film. More than likely, this is the same promo that was shown on cable when promoting the film although I can't say for certain as I didn't see it then. Well worth watching for some strong performances from world class actors although the last hour of the show dragged a bit."
"Helen" not so bad
Mollie Titus | Greenwood, SC | 01/16/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I actually enjoyed this TV version of the fated story...it was not the epic that "Troy" is, with the multi-million dollar scenery and costumes--not to mention Brad Pitt--but the storyline was much more Homer...plus I feel that the actors were more into their characters and not so "Hollywood." (It's kind of hard to see Brad Pitt as Achilles, b/c he's Brad Pitt, even if he is a great actor)...I saw this on TV and fell in love with it...I really liked the way Agamemnon and Helen's relationship was portrayed, even if it isn't accurate...Helen is portrayed as much more childlike and naive, but she was only a child, a beautiful, pawned child...Agamemnon is seen as teetering on the brink of madness throughout the entire movie, as he probably was...the fight scenes were nothing to write home about and neither were several of the performances, but they had Cassandra and her foretellings, Agamemnon sacrificing his daughter in order to sail for Troy, Agamemnon being killed by Clytemnestra (even if it was in Troy), the pre-story of Paris and the fate of Troy, Pollux (but no Castor), and the fact that Helen was a Spartan (not through marriage to Menalaus but by birth--Menelaus inherited Sparta by marrying Helen)...in all, this movie is worth watching, if only for another take on the classic story."
Visually Impressive, Mythologically Inaccurate
Dwayne Harder | Saskatoon, SK Canada | 12/24/2003
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I'll start be explaining the 1 star I awarded this movie, half was for the visual effects which were pretty good for a TV-mini series, but not ground breaking, the other half was for the acting which was commendable. It lost the other 4 stars for the story, which by the end of the movie had me shaking my head in disgust. I'm not going to go into detail about the inaccuracies because that would far exceed the 1000 word limit, so I will simply say that if you have ever read the Iliad or for that matter know anything about the Trojan war don't watch this movie, also note that at this point if you're asking yourself: "What the heck is the Iliad?" than don't bother reading the rest of this review and enjoy the movie.There were 3 main parts of the story that bothered me the most:
- the first was the over emphasis on Paris and Helen's love affair. The timeline is all out of sync. The fact is that at the time of the fall of Troy Paris was long dead and Helen was already re-married to Deiphobus and Odysseus and Menelaus killed him, Helen then went willingly back to Sparta.- the second point were the deaths of Hector, Achilles, and Paris all of which were done wrong- the last point is the character assassination of Agamemnon, they turned him into this typical Hollywood bad guy which is nothing like the character portrayed in the Iliad, then they have him kill Paris and in the end rape Helen, two scenes that almost made me turn off the TV.I would write more but I'm to upset at wasting 4 hours of my life on this movie. I am looking forward to the theatrical release of Troy next year and I have full confidence in Wolfgang Petersen to do honour to the legend of the Trojan War."