Starring: Colin Farrell, Angelina Jolie, Val Kilmer, Anthony Hopkins
Director: Oliver Stone
Over the past years, the historical epic and the biopic have become the laughing stock of Hollywood's insistent efforts to strike Oscar gold and turn big-budget spending into box office profit. Oliver Stone's "Alexander" is both a costly epic and an interesting biography, not to mention a miserable attempt at creating a story that can credit the young warrior for some great importance. Stone's film shows us a lot of different men, including Alexander the Bore, the Not-So-Great and the Lethargic, but he most certainly does not include Alexander the Great. With a three-hour runtime that could have been sliced in half and an amazing cast off actors who appear more interested in things other than the story, "Alexander" is a complete waste of time and money.
Colin Farrell stars as the boy king during his 11-year reign, but the story shrinks in excitement as the hours drift away and the audience is subjected to the warrior's many emotionally-wrought and psychologically-inane relationships. We are introduced to his snake-worshipping mother, Olympias (Angelina Jolie), his one-eyed brute-of-a-father, King Philip (Van Kilmer), and even Alexander's lustful boy toy, Hephaistion (Jared Leto), but it takes nearly an hour before we see any bloody battle scenes - for which the young king was best-known for dominating - and after we do, we rarely see any more action until the final battle in India ten years later where he was wounded and nearly killed.
The first hour of the film is actually quite enjoyable as young Alexander slowly matures into an adult, but the second hour is tedious and uneventful. And by the time the third hour rolls around, it seems even Stone himself has become bored when he suddenly begins to experiment with a red-hued negative film processing trick that looks as if it came from a scene in "Natural Born Killers." The entire three-hour production is an exhausting exercise in patience and self-control, myself wanting to head for the doors several times, but at the end of the film, the audience has learned absolutely nothing about one of the most important military leaders in all of history, except maybe that he really didn't achieve anything at all. It's true that he did conquer 90 percent of the known world (which in present day is more like five percent) and it's been noted many times in history books, as well as in the film, that he was immensely loved by his soldiers. But after dragging his mixed army through a series of pointless battles that should have gained him little notoriety, there seems to be nothing Great about him.
Alexander's good friend Ptolemy (whose older self is played by Anthony Hopkins) narrates the entire story to a series of Babylonian scribes, perhaps to serve as the meat of history lessons to come in the future, but even he lies at the end of the film in order to save face for the purportedly miraculous king. Many other problems occur in the film, like poor acting from the film's major players (save Kilmer's short appearance as King Philip), and if Stone thinks that this atrocity is Oscar material, he is sadly mistaken and should be subjected to a three-hour explanation as to why his film was left out of the celebrations. It's been rumored that "Alexander" was the dream project that took the director over fifteen years to finally produce, but maybe Mr. Stone should have kept this secret locked up for eternity. Alexander may have conquered death, but he most certainly never conquered our attention.
Alexander Revisited DVD Review:
For anyone wondering exactly why Oliver Stone’s “Alexander” required a third version, the director includes a personal message along with the new two-disc set explaining his reasons. Apparently, this “version is [his] clearest interpretation of Alexander’s incredible life,” and is “finally, the undiluted, unrated, uncensored film required by the story itself.” Bullshit! “Alexander Revisited” is yet another way for the studio to make back all the money they lost at the box office for their bloated, meaningless look into the life of Alexander the Great. With the exception of a three-minute introduction by Stone, the two-disc set includes zero special features. Sure, it features a brand new cut of the film that runs 29 minutes longer than the theatrical version, includes over 40 minutes of never-before-seen material, and is even structured differently, but at the end of the day, it’s still “Alexander,” and that’s all that matters.