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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Alexander

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Judy Thorburn

This "Alexander" Is Far From Great

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THIS “ALEXANDER” IS FAR FROM GREAT

This past year has seen both the rise and fall of many Hollywood names. As high as Jamie Foxx’s star has ascended that is how low Ben Affleck’s career has plummeted.

But, these are just two examples of where talent, or lack of it, along with the right or wrong choices can take you.  I hope I am wrong, but it looks like immensely gifted director Oliver Stone might become another casualty if Alexander is a sign of where he is heading. What has happened to this great filmmaker? This is the guy who gave us 1986’s Oscar winning Platoon and continued with his successful career making biographical epics like The Doors. JFK, and Nixon, to name a few films that shared something in common. These flicks were about men who aspired for greatness, making a place for themselves in history.

With “Alexander”, Stone makes an ambitious attempt to capture the life and relationships of yet another historical figure.  But, he fails on too many levels.  About the best thing I can say, is that the costume and set designs are beautiful. The narrative on the other hand is laborious, a tedious almost three hours of pomp, uneven acting and gory battles. The young military leader and world conqueror’s story is told in flashbacks to a scribe forty years after Alexander’s death, by his successor and one of his former close military comrades, Ptolemy (a very old looking, hunched over Anthony Hopkins).  But, what do we really get to know about one of the world’s greatest leaders who conquered almost the entire world by the time he died at the young age of thirty-two? What great insight do we see that made him great?  My advice is read your history books, because this film doesn’t offer much of an education. The personal conflicts and other hodgepodge take precedents here.

Alexander had a great teacher in Aristotle (Christopher Plummer), whose influence is noted in the way Alexander went about conquering foreign territories and uniting cultures.  But, it was the emotional issues with his manipulative, strong willed mother Queen Olympius (Angelina Jolie) who consistently fed Alexander warnings about the dangers from his close alliances, that was an everlasting burden to Alexander. Even after his father, Macedonian King Philip (a bloated,Val Kilmer) is murdered, and Alexander assumes power leaving to conquer new lands, never seeing dear mom again, Olympius pops up occasionally to let us know about the letters she has sent to her son.   While most everyone overacts, (and that includes a blonde tressed Ferrell) at least there is some campy value in Angelina’s snarling, witchy, performance even though she sounds like the Bride of Dracula, with a Transylvanian-like accent rather than a woman of Greece.

And that gets me to all the accents. Colin Farrell, who has shown he can do a flawless American accent in past films, keeps his Irish brogue as Alexander. But, he is not an exception. Not one actor sounds Greek, since almost all speak with British accents.  About the only thing believable is the homosexual overtone.  What’s funny is that I have never seen so many one eyed male warriors in one film sharing the stage with some of the most gorgeous male specimens who are prettier than the women.  It doesn’t matter when Alexander takes a Persian servant/dancer, Roxane (Rosario Dawson) as his bride, since it is obvious from the longing glances and devotional speeches that his heart belongs to the only person he really loved, lifelong friend, the very pretty Hephaiston (Jared Leto).

The battle scenes are another thing altogether. The dizzying, jumpy camera work is distracting.  The result is a gory mess that has blood and body parts flying all over the place.  It is hard to tell what is happening from the standpoint of victory, until after when the narrator informs the audience.

Now I can understand why Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise, who were considered, passed on the role of Alexander.  As for Oliver Stone’s career this could mean a major setback.  How ironic, that for him it turns out to be a Greek tragedy of epic proportions.