THERE'S something about Troy that seems to have struck a nerve with film critics.

People seem to be jumping on their high (Trojan) horses and relishing in the opportunity to give the impression that they've closely studied Homer's Iliad and, frankly, don't think this film measures up to their understanding of the text.

Such criticisms are a) pretentious and b) irrelevant.

Even if the critics in question are familiar with every word of the Iliad (which is pretty unlikely), it's not as if the rest of us are.

To criticise an adaptation of a popular novel like Captain Correlli's Mandolin for straying too far from the story is fair enough - audiences were made up of a fair proportion of fans of the book.

But in this case, it's just not relevant to say that the film isn't a faithful retelling of the book - it's not even supposed to be. After all, the film is called Troy not Homer's Iliad and this is hardly the first film that has tinkered with history for the sake of telling a good story.

And while scholars may shake their heads at this watered-down version of Homer, those of us who aren't that familiar with Greek history will probably learn a few things about legends from the film.

Troy is best enjoyed as what it's supposed to be - a historical epic blockbuster.

If you like films like Braveheart, Saving Private Ryan and Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, with lots of huge battle sequences and heroics, you'll love this.

Director Wolfgang Petersen has not cut corners in the making of this movie - it looks fantastic. Even though you know a certain amount of what you're seeing is computer-generated, you never feel it while you're watching the film. It all looks very real - a bit too real in the case of some of the more unpleasant killings.

Petersen gives equal attention to the Trojans, who find themselves under attack, and the Greeks who are on the offensive. Our sympathies lie with those on both sides of the battle. Although some of the Greeks, particularly nasty Menelaus (Brendan Gleeson) and Agamemnon (Brian Cox), are full-on baddies who deserve their comeuppance, you find yourself wishing that everyone else could just go home and not kill each other.

Brad Pitt is fantastically heroic as Achilles, not to mention gorgeous. Achilles and Hector (Eric Bana) provide a good contrast with each other, indeed their relationship lies at the heart of the film. Both men are shown as essentially good and brave but Hector fights because he has to whereas Achilles is a warrior because he was born to it. Both actors put in fine performances playing out their subtle differences.

The love interests of both men give them a chance to show their more human sides and create an extra driving force behind their actions.

A universally strong cast and some well-developed characters give Troy far more depth than the average blockbuster. Orlando Bloom doesn't really shine as Paris, but Peter O'Toole is fantastic as his father Priam, and Saffron Burrows and Rose Byrne as Andromache and Briseis, the women in the lives of the heroes.

The film isn't without its faults - the battle scenes can get a bit tedious and it's hard to maintain dramatic tension when you have a pretty good idea of how the story ends, but as blockbusters go, this is well above average.

Rating 7/10