Director – Tekin Girgin, Screenplay – Eric Forsberg, Producer – David Michael Latt, Photography – Josh Maas, Music – Christopher Cano, Chris Ridenhour & Eliza Swenson, Visual Effects Supervisor – Glenn Campbell, Makeup – Chanakan Choochote. Production Company – The Asylum
Dylan Vox (Odysseus), Lara Heller (Circe/Shadow Warrior), Kelly B. Jones (Penelope), Daniel Whyte (Antinoos), Cecilia Belletti (Calypso), Hachem Hicham (Aesus), David W. Gray (Eurylochus), Torstein Olaussen (Old Thelonious), Ego Mikitas (King Priam), David Blazejko (Agamemnon), Eoin O’Brien (Achilles), Daniel Renalds (Telemachus), Katrina Grey (Helen)
1184 B.C. Odysseus, the king of Ithaca, joins Agamemnon in going off to fight against Troy. Odysseus believes the war will not take long and promises his wife Penelope he will return to her soon. However, the war drags on for ten years. Odysseus eventually comes up with an ingenious means of defeating the Trojans by playing on their vanity and building a wooden horse. They leave this on the beach and the Trojans haul it inside the city walls, unaware that Odysseus and his men are hidden inside. At night, they emerge and sack the city. Before he dies, the Trojan King Priam places a curse on Odysseus that the Kraken will follow him wherever he goes and will destroy Ithaca. Odysseus and his men set out to return home, taking the Trojan warrior woman Circe with them for protection, knowing that the Kraken will not kill a Trojan. Back home, Penelope falls into despair with no word from her husband. A group of men led by the boorish Antinoos move into her home and party, determined to force her to declare Odysseus dead and marry one of them. Meanwhile, Odysseus and his men wander lost, encountering the Cyclops, being seduced by the song of the sirens to dally on their island and are forced to take a route through the underworld.
The Asylum have become known for their ‘mockbusters’ – B-budget copies of hit films that come out served up with soundalike titles. See the likes of The Da Vinci Treasure (2006), Snakes on a Train (2006), Transmorphers (2007), Atlantic Rim (2013) and Age of the Hobbits (2012), among others. In between these, The Asylum have maintained a busy output of low-budget, entertainingly tongue-in-cheek killer shark films with the likes of Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus (2009), 2-Headed Shark Attack (2012) and Sharknado (2013), all of which have produced multiple sequels.
In between their mockbusters and killer shark films, The Asylum from time to time turn their hands to churning out cheap adaptations of classic stories. These are often just ways of churning out low-cost copycats of works in the public domain when studios are making their own big-budget versions – see the likes of War of the Worlds (2005), King of the Lost World (2005), Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008), Sherlock Holmes (2009), 3 Musketeers (2011), Grimm’s Snow White (2012), Jack the Giant Killer (2013), Hercules Reborn (2014), Sleeping Beauty (2014), In the Name of Ben Hur (2015) and King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table (2017). In between this, they have made several other efforts that are not particularly tied to any other studio version such as 30,000 Leagues Under the Sea (2007), The Land That Time Forgot (2009), Princess of Mars (2009), 2010: Moby Dick (2010), The 7 Adventures of Sinbad (2010) and Sinbad and the War of the Furies (2016).
With Troy: The Odyssey, The Asylum tackle one of the great literary epics – none other than Homer’s The Odyssey (probably written in the 8th Century BC). For good measure, a truncated version of The Iliad (date unknown), to which The Odyssey is a sequel, has been tacked on to the start of the film. Originally written as poems, these are believed to be the oldest works of literature known to history. Both The Iliad and The Odyssey have been filmed before, most notably as the tv mini-series The Odyssey (1997), even loosely updated as the Coen Brothers’ O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000), the tv mini-series Helen of Troy (2003), the Brad Pitt-starring Troy (2004) and subsequent to this the BBC tv mini-series Troy: Fall of City (2018).
Scripted by Asylum regular director Eric Forsberg – director of films like Alien Abduction (2005), Night of the Dead “Leben Tod” (2006), Mega Piranha (2010) and Clown (2019) – the film rearranges Homer fairly freely. For instance, in the original, Circe is an enchantress they encounter on their journey who turns Odysseus’s men into pigs but here she becomes an everyday Trojan who accompanies them on their journey. It nevertheless provides a better-than-average outing compared to the level of mediocrity that most Asylum films aim for. One of the more amusing things about the film is the inclusion of the Kraken – this is a sea monster taken from Norse mythology as opposed to Greek and has only been associated with Greek myth following its incorporation in the Ray Harryhausen film Clash of the Titans (1981).
The formal dialogue tends to sound clunky and awkward in the mouths of the actors. And the film suffers from some bizarre casting – most notably David Blazejko as Agamemnon who looks like he has been recruited from a job as a bouncer at the rattiest bar in town. On the other hand, newcomer director Tekin Girgin, who hails from Turkey, does a not too bad job. The Kraken effects are solid and convincing. Gilgin even manages to make the scene where Odysseus returns to Ithaca and vanquishes his wife’s would-be suitors into something quite triumphal.