As preposterous excuses for calamitous military assaults go, the tangled pretext for the Trojan War might rival those fictitious WMDs. To the consternation of his upstanding brother Hector (Bana), timid trousersnake Paris (Bloom), an androgynous pin-up, smuggles away his sweetheart Helen (Kruger) from her gilded cage in the palace of her much older husband, the Spartan king Menelaos (Gleeson). When the spluttering cuckold swears revenge, his brother, ruthless land-grabber King Agamemnon (Cox, taking fork and well-sharpened knife to a prime-beef role), seizes the opportunity to lay siege to Troy, the last barrier to complete control of the Aegean. To vanquish his enemy, however, Agamemnon requires the fighting prowess of the unreliable and apparently unkillable Achilles (Pitt), a surly surfer type who, in his apolitical stance and stoical longing for death, somewhat recalls Maximus in Ridley Scott's Gladiator. Petersen's own sword and sandals bonanza proceeds by a numbingly reliable tick-tock of expository set pieces alternating with vast CGI-aided battle scenes. Originally set to shoot partly in Morocco, the production moved to the Baja peninsula of Mexico when the Iraq war loomed. Under this shadow, Petersen sensibly veers away from morbid intimacy with war's ravages on the flesh, and instead strains for a Breughelian horror in the D-Day-like assault on the beach and the inferno-lit sack of Troy. In grandiosely illustrating the power-drunk derangement of empire building, and in rendering war as a pointless, brutish, dishonourable wank (not to mention a big sandy bore), Troy is certainly of its horrified moment. JWin.