Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Review: Oliver Stone's Alexander

Alexander: The Director's Cut
2004. Directed by Oliver Stone. Starring Colin Farrell and Angelina Jolie.

I finally got around to watching Oliver Stone's 2004 historical flop - Alexander. I'd hoped the Director's Cut would somehow be better since I'd heard the original was perhaps one of the worst films ever made. I normally quite enjoy historical period movies like Gladiator, Troy, 300, Braveheart, Kingdom of Heaven, Spartacus, and Ben-Hur. I expect them to take a fair amount of creative license with historical accuracy in favor of stylized entertainment, but Alexander was just . . . lame.

Alexander was depicted as rash, impetuous and foolish. It was hard to believe that he'd be able to conquer anything, much less most of the known world of the time. The battle / action sequences were rare and focused mainly on Alexander foolishly rushing headlong into battle. Clearly, enacting epic battles and showing off Alexander's military skill was NOT intended to be the focus of the movie. The conquests of Asia Minor and Egypt are narrated quickly, and we first see Alexander on the eve of Gaugamela. The battle scene was chaotic and neither side was depicted with any particular military or fighting skill. It ended with the sense that Alexander had lost, even though the Persian army had turned and fled and Gaugamela is considered a turning point in Alexander's conquest of Persia. The next scene, then, was something of a surprise, seeing Alexander's victorious entry into Babylon after a battle that was portrayed as a disaster. The rest of the movie plodded on with too much corny dialogue and too much non-linear story-telling (i.e., filling in the back story by jumping back in time 10 years every 15 minutes or so). Apparently, the movie was intended to be a character drama focused on Alexander, but Colin Farrell's Alexander is no charismatic military leader. He's a weak alcoholic moping around feeling sorry for himself because he can't be with his boyfriend or escape the apron strings of his mother. Speaking of his mother, I kept wondering why they had Angelina Jolie deliver her lines with a fake Russian accent. Oh well . . . if you've made it through life so far without watching this movie, consider yourself lucky and don't bother with it. Watch 300 or Gladiator instead.

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