The new $150 million Hollywood epic, Alexander, a feature
about the legendary ruler who conquered most of the known world
and directed by the also-legendary Oliver Stone,
is nothing more than a lugubrious exercise that fails miserably.
This mess of a movie is under three hours but felt as long as the
time years ago in which it actually happened. People who were annoyed
by the length of The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King
might want to stay away from Alexander.
Colin Farrell, in what is far from a breakthrough
role, portrays Alexander, the Macedonian king whose
empire spread over Europe and Asia before his death at the age of
32. The talent speaks many a metaphor between Alexander and Achilles
and Hercules, along with Achilles and his lover, Patroclus (AN:
a subplot which was amended in this year’s other sword and
sandals epic, Troy, making the lovers “cousins”
instead), represented in Alexander in the form of Hephaistion (Leto),
Alexander’s most trusted friend (lover?). The Alexander of
this movie is presented as a benevolent ruler, one who “frees”
the people of the lands he “conquers” and inspires a
new age of change and enlightenment throughout the eastern world.
The Alexander of this film seemed more like a tortured artist in
a clichéd biopic than a warrior, trying to achieve some grand
vision in life. Of course there’s the dysfunctional family
element in his one-eyed father, Philip (Kilmer)
and his mother, Olympias (Jolie). Jolie once again
tries and fails at using a foreign accent, which only serves in
making her character more annoying and ridiculous.
What other nasty, awful things can I say? I must revel in it for
a while. Just about everything in this movie is incoherent garbage.
Characters don’t really act; they shout or stab each other
to a point where you don’t even know what is going on. At
the end of the scene all you can say is, “WTF, mates?”
The more quiet, “character” scenes are dull and boring
and make you feel like the movie was made for people battling insomnia.
Christian Bale’s Trevor Reznik in The
Machinist would probably be cured after watching Alexander.
There is so much talking in the movie—scenes of characters
talking and talking, talking and yelling, yelling and scuffling,
talking, more talking. Not that talking and heaping amounts of exposition
are always bad… but in this case they are. Anthony
Hopkins’ (the narrator of the story as the older
Ptolemy) scenes in particular look dialed in and uninspired.
The few battle scenes depicted in the film manage to disappoint,
frustrate, and downright blow. The battles plainly symbolize the
movie—a giant, incoherent, pretentious mess. These scenes
suffer from a lack of focus and general chaos, which I suppose one
can argue reflects a real battle, but it is neither effective nor
And what of the controversy over the movie’s delay being caused
by dim studio executives who were distraught when they realized
that Alexander The Great was BISEXUAL? Well, for all the talk of
Colin Farrell being “eager” to play a bisexual role,
and the rumors of Stone filming “aggressive gay love scenes”
it’s an insignificant aspect of the movie. I don’t even
know if Alexander and Hephaistion were lovers or merely close bosom
buddies like Sam and Frodo. There is one scene in which Alexander
smooches his chief eunuch (whom I must disappointingly say, does
NOT resemble “Red Dwarf’s” Arnold Judas Rimmer).
Aside from that and Farrell looking at some strapping young lads
as if he wants to eat them like candy, the film just mostly implies
Alexander’s preference for the same sex. You’ve got
to remember folks (Warner Bros. execs., you too): Back in those
times it wasn’t uncommon for people to be involved in same-sex
relationships, have multiple spouses, what have you.
To take a few words from the Bard, the movie doesn’t drag—“it
treads on the ground.” And it treads over the audience. In
good conscience, I cannot recommend this movie for anyone, unless
you really love Ollie Stone. For those expecting large amounts of
epic, R-rated violence and gore, there is quite a bit of it, but
sitting through the rest is not worth the price of admission. However,
perhaps Rosario Dawson’s nudity as Alexander’s
first wife, Queen Roxane, and for the gals what I can only assume
was the bare end of a Farrell body double might be enough. There
is nothing more I can say about Alexander other than that
it is a perfectly awful movie.
—Jeffrey “The Vile One” Harris