Sand, sun, annoyance, grandeur, misery -- this is ''Troy,'' director Wolfgang Petersen's take on the 2,800-year-old tale ''The Iliad.'' A sprawling, David Lean-inspired epic, ''Troy,'' initially budgeted at $150 million, boasts 1,250 extras, a re-created ancient city, several epic battles, and more than five months of location shoots in London, Malta, and Mexico. The stakes, like the film, are massive.
In fact, ''Troy'' has become one of the most expensive movies in history. In return for its hubris, the ambitious production's budget ballooned to more than $200 million as it suffered a string of costly crises: emergency relocation, set destruction, and an injury to star Brad Pitt that postponed a crucial fight scene for months. See, Pitt, in his first starring role since 2001's ''Ocean's Eleven,'' plays mercenary warrior Achilles, and he...tweaked his Achilles. ''It's such a bad angle,'' he groans. ''Stupid irony.''
But a good Greek tragedy needs irony. And death, and love, and mayhem and guys with names like Itssolongyourejustshowingoffforus. For those who haven't dabbled in Homer of late: Remember the face that launched a thousand ships? That's Helen, queen of Sparta (Diane Kruger). Prince Paris (Orlando Bloom), on a peace mission to his Spartan enemies, falls for her and rashly spirits his lover back to Troy. Helen's furious hubby, King Menelaus (Brendan Gleeson), presents the problem to his brother, the land-grabbing Supermonarch Agamemnon (Brian Cox), who uses it as an excuse for war, and looses Greece's armies -- and Achilles -- upon Troy.