Alexander (2004)
(Release Date: November 24, 2004)
(Release Date: November 16, 2004 [Hollywood premiere])


1/2

Alexander the Grating!

J.C. Maçek III
The World's Greatest Critic!
Every year for about the past half a decade Colin Farrell is declared Hollywood's "Next Big Thing", and what ever his latest project happens to be is heralded as the indisputable proof that Farrell is that "Next Big Thing". Without fail that glorious project manages to make much less of a splash than the Press Agents, Reporters and Teeny Boppers have insisted that it really must make, and Farrell continues to be the "Next Big Thing", rather than, simply a big thing or, actually, a just a thing. But from American Outlaws (heard of it?), to Hart's War to Phone Booth, the list goes on and on, and Colin's that Cute-As-A-Button "next" lister. Someone's listening, though, because no less a director than Oliver Stone tapped Farrell to star is his estimated $150,000,000 "dream project" about Alexander the Great.

Macedonian's 12

The "Stars" are Twinkling!

  1. Anthony Hopkins as Old Ptolemy
  2. Angelina Jolie as Olympias
  3. Val Kilmer as King Philip of Macedonia
  4. Christopher Plummer as Aristotle
  5. Colin Farrell as Alexander
  6. Jared Leto as Hephaistion
  7. Rosario Dawson as Roxane
  8. Gary Stretch as Cleitus
  9. Elliot Cowan as Ptolemy
  10. John Kavanagh as Parmenion
  11. Nick Dunning as Attalus
  12. Brian Blessed(!) as Wrestling Trainer
-Castor Troy Kneumsi!

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And how is Alexander? Well, let's just say that there's no danger of Colin Farrell riding the coat tails of this movie to "Big Thing" status, that's for sure. Alexander is, unfortunately, pretty damned crappy, overblown and pompous with enough melodrama to actually make Granny Macek's Best Boy laugh out loud right there in the theatre. This isn't the sort of movie that you watch and simply condemn as a muscle twister to watch (though, it really sort of is). Quite the contrary, I felt sad that the movie sucked, and wished better for Ollie and the gang. As it stands though, the script is convoluted, the characters underdeveloped and the overall result of the experiment appearing to be more vanity than aptitude. On the other hand, though, Rosario Dawson does get completely naked, which is almost worth your entire ticket price! (What am I saying, "almost"?)


Anthony Hopkins guides the audience through what essentially amounts to a long series of stitched-together battle sequences and self-righteous monologues that Oliver Stone (with cowriters Christopher Kyle and Laeta Kalogridis) saw as the pertinent points of the life of smilin' Alexander III of Macedon! From Alexander's early childhood, being raised by his mysterious (and incredibly hot) mother Olympias (Angelina Jolie) and his warlike father Philip (Val Kilmer), and up through his rise to conquer and rule every parcel of land from Greece to Egypt to the Orient. Quite a lofty story to tell in 173 minutes, no?

Yes indeed! What starts out as something fascinating quickly devolves into a disjointed montage of occasionally related mini-movies narrated by Hopkins. And when there gets to be only a ton too much plot to sweep up at once, Hopkins sighs and gives us a quick Cliff's Notes version of what we're missing, and we shoot forward in Ancient Time to a more convenient vantage point.

Anyone who has cracked a History Text can figure out a lot of the rest of this film (in spite of a few inaccuracies and guesses), and what's left are more and more and more Battle scenes and epistolary arguments between Alexander and his Jealous Mommy. Not to mention five new characters per scene... not that I'm complaining about Rosario Dawson.

This might have made one hell of a History Channel Mini-Series. With more time and care this might not have failed as it has. The elements of quality are all there, from the wonderful sets and scenery, to Rosario Dawson, to an all-star cast, to some absolutely Epic Battles, to daring symbolism to Rosario Dawson. On the other hand, there are some surprisingly melodramatic and graceless lines that even some of the better actors spout at their own risk of mockery. All the while the plot feels like more of a special effect-laded checklist of the peaks and valleys of Alexander the Great's History without any real structure to prop it up.

There's also an apparent major fear of alienating the homophobic in the Audience. Alexander, like many Greek Aristocrats, took a Male Lover in real life. In the film, this homo-erotica is hinted at between Alexander and Jared Leto's Hephaistion, then danced around none-too-subtly until we get the point, but are far from believing it.

To be fair, Farrell, (Point Break-mullet and all) is pretty decent in the lead role, even when he has some crazy lines to try to pull off. He's never Colin the Great, any more than his role is "great" (as the script goes out of its way to prove) and he leads a cast-worth of actors whose home-accent taints their multi-cultural characters' tongues. (Who knew that Alexander the Great was as Irish as "Ballykissangel"?). It's too bad too, because the accents of the various characters are virtually the only things about this expensive movie that are not predictable.

I never expected Oliver Stone to follow the same trends as so many faux-epics out there... that being, borrow as liberally as possible from Braveheart until you've got the "Epic" part down pat! But Oliver's Tone is just like Braveheart's, Oliver's Tone is just like the one in King Arthur, Oliver's Tone is a Tone we've seen and heard before. If the Cookie Cutter Epic is your thing, give this one a shot. You could do worse, honestly. It's not a good movie, but it still has that expansive feel that makes you feel for the filmmakers in an "E for Effort" sort of way. As it stands, though, Alexander manages to be as tired as King Arthur, only much, much longer. It's therefore worth Two and One Half Stars out of Five! Sadly, a "Dream Project" rarely becomes the dream product the dreamer so badly desires, mainly because the dreamer just doesn't know when to tell himself "No!". Hell, maybe we'll get lucky, Stone will get off of his High Elephant and give us another The Hand. Laugh if you must, but it beats Alexander! Sorry guys... much love, but I'll see you in the next reel!

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Alexander (2004) Reviewed by J.C. Maçek III
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