Monday, September 24, 2012

Alexander (Theatrical Version)

Oliver Stone is an interesting director. He can make amazing films like Platoon, JFK, Nixon, Talk Radio and Salvador, and then make unwatchable crap like U-Turn, Natural Born Killers. The Doors and Any Given Sunday. He is a passionate director who puts all his energy into milking every last idea from his films (except the aforementioned crappy ones), and when he makes a historical film he usually adds his own little twists on vague details and leaves the audience to decide if he's right or wrong. Such is not the case with Alexander.

It starts off in epic fashion. The first hour is well paced, filled with awesome cinematography, great performances and it's fairly interesting. We see the history of Alexander of Macedonia told by one of his friends and fellow soldiers (played by Anthony Hopkins) and we watch him grow from a small mama's boy to a man who adores his abusive drunken father who rules over the land. When his father is murdered by a traitorous soldier Alexander is given the throne and embarks on a legendary military campaign to unite Europe and Asia. We are then treated to a kick ass battle scene that is epic in every way (and better than all the action scenes in Troy). Once that happens the film totally goes downhill.
When Alexander wins this first battle Oliver Stone decides to concentrate not on the how or why his central figure wants to unite the known world, but on his various sexual escapades. Anyone who ever studied about Alexander the Great in school knows that his door swung both ways, but Stone rams it down our throats every chance he can. Alexander (Colin Farrell) constantly exchanges coy glances with his boyhood flame Hephaistion (Jared Leto), flashes his family jewels to a very effeminate man-servant (who he French kisses long before there was a term for it) and has an extended sex scene with his concubine Roxane (a very naked and massively endowed Rosario Dawson). It's not interesting at all. It's just distracting and tiresome. It's as if Stone was too lazy to inject his own vision on the history of this character and just decided to focus on the most common fact and amply it to the Nth degree. Lame.

There's a pretty cool battle scene at the end in India where Alexander and his battle-worn troops take on an army riding atop armored elephants, but it's all ruined once he's wounded and the remaining action is jarringly tinted pinkish purple. I didn't get what Stone was trying to convey with this stylistic choice other than the fact that it took me out of the movie completely and made me realize that I was getting bored and wanted to go home.
Neither the naked body of Rosario Dawson, nor the beauty of the once talented Angelina Jolie could save this flick from disaster. Stone is a talented director, but he made a dud. An expensive dud (this flick cost upwards of $200m) and it's no one's fault but his own. Sorry dude, but you've joined Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppolla in the ranks of high-profile filmmakers who blew tons of money on an ego trip.

1 out of 5

p.s. I have not seen any of the re-cuts Oliver Stone has released over the years, nor do I have the desire to.

*written 11/24/04

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