Alexander


Directed by: Oliver Stone
Written by:Oliver Stone, Christopher Kyle, Laeta Kalogridis
Starring: Colin Farrell, Angelina Jolie, Val Kilmer, Anthony  Hopkins, Jared Leto, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers
Released: January 20, 2005
Grade: B-

Like the man himself, Alexander has its flaws.  For starters, I had tremendous difficulty understanding the plot.  I am not an historian and can’t even remember if I studied Alexander The Great in High School.  As the characters rush through their dialogue, I hear names like Zeus, Olympus, Achilles, Olympias, Aristotle.  I also hear other names which mean nothing to me.  When one of the cast refers to another, I’m struggling just to understand exactly who is talking about who.

On top of this confusion, director Oliver Stone has not done a particularly good job.  The action scenes are heavily edited and the constant changing from camera angle to camera angle was frustrating.  We just can’t see what’s going on.  Further, Anthony Hopkins’ long introduction was not the best way to start the film.  Did it serve a purpose?

Another negative were the overly loud sound effects and film score from Vangelis.  At times, the dialogue was difficult to understand because the background noises were so deafening.  I love a good film score and Vangelis has done a fine job but Oliver Stone needed to turn it down just a little.

I don’t usually start a review by focusing so heavily on the negatives.  I guess I need to warn people by following the consensus that Alexander is a sub par film.  If you’ve followed any recent media, you’ll know this is the box-office bomb of 2004.  At a whopping cost of $150m, the film has taken a measly $34m in the United States.  I dare say it’ll scoop the Razzie Awards – a humorous award show held the day before the Oscars which honours the worst films of the year.

Despite agreeing with so many criticisms, a few aspects of the film made it somewhat appealing.  As pathetic as the casting of Angelina Jolie was (who never ages over a 25 year period), Colin Farrell (as Alexander) showed talent.  I haven’t rated his acting ability until this point but was quietly impressed.  Val Kilmer (as Alexander’s father) was also agreeable in his small role.

At a total duration of 175 minutes (making it the longest film I’ve seen in 12 months), I admit to being interested during most of it.  The time seemed to fly.  The storyline has many of the clichés we saw in Gladiator and Troy but I liked the direction of the story and its focus on the slow disintegration of Alexander and the respect from his men.

To quickly sum up this tale in 20 words or less, Alexander becomes King of Macedonia following his father’s assassination.  He then assembles a huge army and conquers many lands.  There’s more to it of course but that’ll tell you all you need to know.

Whilst I’d be incredibly pissed to have been one of the $150m investors in Alexander I’m happy enough to have parted with my $8 as an ordinary-going movie patron.