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"Troy" a mediocre epic

Much-anticipated film falls short of expectations

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Brad Pitt as the legendary warrior "Achylles" in "Troy."

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(CNN) -- In 2003 TIME magazine called the film "Troy" a cultural flash - a movie to fill theaters and go down in the annals of Hollywood. It was to be expected that a movie with an exorbitant budget, gorgeous cast, and visionary director and screenwriter would generate such a positive buzz.

German director Wolfgang Petersen ("Das Boot," "The Perfect Storm," "Air Force One") and screenwriter David Benioff ("25th Hour") had an estimated $185 million to turn the mother of all epic poems into a box office hit. Starring heartthrobs Brad Pitt, Orlando Bloom, Eric Bana and screen legend Peter O'Toole, "Troy" seemed a sure bet to make box office history.

In May 2004 "Troy" opened at No. 1 with a weekend gross of $46,856,412. But it earned less than the widely panned "Van Helsing," which earned about $4.8 million more in it's opening the weekend before. "Troy" spent only six weeks in the box office top 10, ultimately earning more than $133 million - far less than the cost to make it.

Critics were lukewarm, noting that straying from "The Illiad" narrative threatened to make "Troy" less than the juggernaut it was hyped as. The gods who played such a major role in Homer's original version were missing from the movie, and the archetypal characters of Achilles, Paris and Helen were played ambiguously.

Most critics agreed the special effects were graphic and impressive, and Peter O'Toole was lauded for his turn as King Priam of Troy. But instead of the cinematic epic Petersen was expected to deliver, many critics said "Troy" was a tedious anti-war movie.

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