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Released: 2004

Genre: Action & Adventure

Runtime: 2 hr 55 min

MPAA Rating: R

Director: Oliver Stone

Starring: Colin Farrell, Angelina Jolie, Val Kilmer, Anthony Hopkins, Jared Leto, Rosario Dawson, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Rory McCann, Christopher Plummer

Oliver Stone epic about the Macedonian king.

A bloated, beautiful, muddled mess.

Review by: JerrySaravia

Added: 8 years ago

"Alexander" is a bloated, beautiful, muddled mess of an epic. There are images and performances of searing power, and there is just enough melodrama to make fans of lavish epics puke.

Blonde-haired Alexander the Great (Colin Farrell) was one of the greatest of all conquerors, a visionary whose initially principal focus was to conquer Persia. Yep, he conquers and fights the Persians in the battle of Gaugamela but his sights go elsewhere - he wants the entire Persian empire. He intends on conquering every land leading to India in a journey and several battles that end up dividing his troops and losing many lives for the sake of...well, nothing. Almost everyone turns against Alexander and conspires to kill him by poisoning him.

Alexander's father is the one-eyed Philip of Macedonia (Val Kilmer), a drunk who had strong aspirations to overtake the Persians but was also killed. Most of the blame is attributed to Alexander's seductive mother, Queen Olympias (Angelina Jolie), who has an affinity for snakes and claims Alexander's real father is Zeus (Huh?). It is clear from the start that Olympias hates Philip and wants Alexander to be king, but to what end? Political ambition or just pure hatred of Philip? Seems like those scenes were on the cutting room floor, like most of the movie.

Oliver Stone throws everything into this epic except the kitchen sink. There are battle scenes with war elephants tearing apart crowds of soldiers, hundreds of arrows fired into the air (a cliché by now), and an eagle's perspective of these widescreen battles. Some blood and gore here and there, though relatively restrained judging from the blood-soaked standards set by "Gladiator."

The performances run hot and cold. Angelina Jolie easily gives the best performance, reigning in her almost Transylvanian accent and her seductive presence tenfold (you almost expect her to bare fangs at some point). Colin Farrell screams and hollers, but he never truly inhabits the character. I hate to say it but Farell humanizes the character so much that he comes off as more wimpy than a commanding, persuasive conqueror. Anthony Hopkins as the narrator Ptolemy seems ready to keel over, whereas Christopher Plummer handles his Aristotle role with exceptional clarity. Other actors such as Rosario Dawson, who is criminally wasted as Roxane, Alexander's Persian wife, and Jared Leto as Alexander's close friend Hephaistion are thrust into the film's jumbled, flashback-driven narrative without much conviction or need. Vangelis's beautiful score alleviates some of the film's faults and lack of cohesion but not by much.

I appreciate what Oliver Stone has attempted here - an intellectual epic far removed from the cartoonish theatrics of "Gladiator" or "Troy." Some scenes are awesomely staged, but just as many are flat and monotonous. Stone hasn't placed much faith on the character of Alexander or his bisexuality - he is more spirited and engaged with Angelina's Olympias character than anyone else in the entire movie. Whether it was studio intervention or not, Stone doesn't make this the risky venture we expect from him, and that is a shame.