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Overall Rating

Awesome: 9.5%
Worth A Look: 5.03%
Just Average: 6.15%
Pretty Crappy: 39.11%

10 reviews, 119 user ratings

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by Peter Sobczynski

"Aside from Jolie, a near-total failure"
2 stars

Throughout his career, first as the screenwriter of films such as “Midnight Express” and “Scarface” and later as the director of works like “Platoon”, “J.F.K.”, “Natural Born Killers” and “Nixon”, Oliver Stone has consistently polarized audiences with his proudly pugnacious efforts. There has never been a middle ground-you either love him for his in-your-face narrative approach and bold visual style or loathe him for his ham-fisted dramatics (especially if you are female) and the everything-including-the kitchen-sink aesthetic. With his latest work, “Alexander”, it seems that he has finally made a film where the audience reaction will be fairly uniform-the vast majority of them will be collapsed on the multiplex floor with laughter and disbelief. Somehow, Stone’s dream project on the life of Alexander the Great has mutated into the kind of jumbo-sized misfire that you didn’t think Hollywood had the nerve to make anymore-a throwback to the bad old days where “epic” films were stuffed with painfully miscast actors, incoherent battle scenes and the kind of dialogue that only a confirmed bad-film fanatic would ever find themselves quoting in public. There is a distinct possibility that this could be the single most disappointing effort from a well-regarded American artist this year-and remember, I have read “I Am Charlotte Simmons”.

One of the fundamental problems with the film is that there is never a single moment in the entire 173-minute running time displaying any real understanding of why Stone would have wanted to make a film on this subject in the first place. There are elements in “Alexander” that have cropped up in his previous works-political conspiracies, familial angst, a young man’s desire for everlasting fame, a downfall brought upon by a lust for power and much prattling on about Dionysius-but here, they always feel like individual elements without any grand unifying idea to pull them together. Stone has been trying to put together a film on this subject for over fifteen years and it feels as if he, despairing of ever getting it done, decided to shoehorn whatever ideas he had on those elements into his other films; when he finally got the financing, he had already said what he wanted to say on those subjects and was left with little else to work with.

As a history lesson, it also fails spectacularly-a real shame since many of Stone’s best films (including “J.F.K.” and “Nixon”) have been intensely detailed historical sagas. In those films, whether or not you liked them or believed them, you had to admire Stone’s ability to tell his story in a fast-paced style that allowed viewers to absorb tons of information without getting them lost or dumbing things down. I don’t know if it was the five-year hiatus that he took after 1999’s “Any Given Sunday”, but that gift seems to have withered and died. Instead of a narrative that is both complex and clear-cut, Stone has given us a jumble of incidents lashed together with the kind of voice-over narration (supplied by Anthony Hopkins, playing Ptolemy) that most filmmakers only deploy as a last-minute act of desperation once they realize that their film makes absolutely no sense. Significant events (such as the conquering of West Asia) are described rather than depicted and when Stone finally shows a key early event in Alexander’s life-the murder of his father, Philip of Macedonia (Val Kilmer)-late in the film, it feels more like an afterthought stuck in when Stone realized that he forgot to include it in the early cuts. Even the battle scenes are a mess-much is made about Alexander’s brilliance as a military leader but I defy anyone watching the film to explain where people are and what is going on at any given moment. (Stone even adds subtitles explaining where people are supposed to be and they only serve to confuse things further.)

Surprisingly, there is precious little in “Alexander” that makes it feel like what people have come to expect from an Oliver Stone film. The formal invention of his earlier works has been replaced with a blandly straightforward approach that is the most listless thing he has ever committed to film. Even the visual overkill-changing film stocks, mixing black-and-white with color and other film-school tricks-that made his previous efforts so dazzling (or excruciating, depending on your point-of-view) is all but absent here; apparently, he has chosen to heed the words spoken early on by Aristotle (Christopher Plummer), “Excess in all things is the undoing of man.” In most cases, those are wise words to live by but Oliver Stone is one of those filmmakers who tend to be better when they are working with a more flamboyant style. His work here is positively staid but who wants to see a staid Oliver Stone movie? This is so flat and unmemorable that when a bit of the old weirdness finally crops up-the majority of Alexander’s last battle in India is inexplicably tinted a gaudy pink-the effect is less thrilling than perplexing.

In fact, the only idea that he really seems to want to communicate is the fact that Alexander (Colin Farrell) was bisexual and that homosexuality was a fairly normal and unexceptional occurrence during that particular period of time. That’s a swell approach, I suppose (though those who recall his less-than-positive depictions of gays in films like “Midnight Express” and “J.F.K.” might have a different opinion) but, having made that choice, Stone then wusses out on it in any number of ways. Aside from pointing out that homosexuality was alive and well at that time, he has nothing particularly of interest to say about the subject (a discussion early on about the proclivities of Achilles seems to have been added for no other reason that to serve as a slap at the whitewash done earlier this year in “Troy”) and, despite rumors to the contrary, pretty much refuses to show it in any detail beyond the long, smoldering looks that Alexander gives to lifelong friend Hephaistion (Jared Leto, looking disconcertingly like Nicky Hilton) and the occasional lingering hug; the longest sex scene on display is the thoroughly heterosexual one between Alexander and barbarian babe Roxane (Rosario Dawson) on their wedding night. The most memorable aspects of the homosexual content on display are some of the astoundingly clunky lines that Stone and co-writers Christopher Kyle and Laeta Kalogridis have supplied; if you don’t crack up when Ptolemy mentions that the only defeat Alexander ever suffered as a youth was “between Hephaistion’s thighs”, you surely will when, discussing the subject of masculine love, Alexander is told that “your father was no lover of Homer’s”. (When I saw the trailer and heard one of the characters exclaim “Alexander, be reasonable!”, I never dreamed it would wind up being one of the better lines in the film.)

Speaking of bad laughs, “Alexander” has enough unintentional humor to qualify it as being funnier than most recent comedies. There are the repeated shots of an eagle soaring overhead during every key moment; apparently it is supposed to represent Alexander’s spirit or something, but when it gets a close-up, it winds up looking more like that “Falconer” sketch from “Saturday Night Live”. There is the first shot of Babylon, which looks more like the kind of thing that you would see in a kinky theme motel. (Who knew that Babylon would be so tacky?) There is the sequence when Alexander’s troops enter India for the first time and apparently discover monkeys-this leads to the odd sight of Colin Farrell not only acting opposite a monkey, but being outacted by him. Most of the other performances are equally uninspired, none more so than Kilmer as Philip of Macedonia-not only does he shamble about with one eye in a constant stupor, he does so with a ridiculous Irish accent (in order to explain Farrell’s) to boot.

The lone bright spot in the film is the performance of Angelina Jolie, who plays the role of Olympias-Alexander’s ambitious mother who claims that his father was actually Zeus himself. When she appears on the screen, you cannot take your eyes off of her, but that isn’t simply because of the sheer carnality of her presence. Unlike the rest of the cast, she seems to have deduced early on that the film was going to turn out to be less than one might have hoped for and so she has chosen to deliver a scenery-chewing performance that is as flamboyantly overscaled as it is entertaining. I wouldn’t claim that this will go down as one of her great performances and I doubt that very many clips will be included in any lifetime achievement reels down the line, but when she pops up on the screen (literally-based on this movie, it was apparently mighty cold in Macedonia and Babylon), the film finally begins to show signs of life. “Fortune favors the bold” is the Virgil quote that kicks things off (some may be thinking of another of his quotes, “Oh if only Jupiter would give me back my past years” by the time the end credits roll); unfortunately, it appears that Jolie is the only person involved with “Alexander” to take those words to heart

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=11182&reviewer=389
originally posted: 11/24/04 00:16:18
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User Comments

9/07/20 dupadoit pop cans 4 stars
11/04/15 David Hollingsworth The accents are really annoying! 1 stars
8/16/12 Ed Not a bad movie. Does take a while to capture the scope and essence. 3 stars
8/15/09 Jeff Wilder Not great or even all that good. But I've seen worse. Better than King Arthur at least/ 2 stars
9/03/08 Alexandru Totir I don't know why many of you didn't like it. I think it's a great movie and I loved it. 5 stars
8/20/08 Shaun Wallner boring! couldnt watch the whole thing. 1 stars
7/10/08 L. Slusarczyk not that bad of a movie. Liked the final release the best of the 3. 3 stars
5/02/08 Max Sloppy, disjointed, pretentious, and lifeless. 1 stars
11/05/07 Tiffany Losco Leto is hott!!! 5 stars
9/24/07 Nicholas Maday Would have been better if Ptolemy hadn't been telling the whole story. 2 stars
7/29/07 Samantha it was different than other stuff we hear, but it was dramatic and passionate I loved it 5 stars
6/28/07 Anthony Irish accents ruined the whole movie 1 stars
1/28/07 titwank incredible, epic, great music, fantastic story, masterpiece... 5 stars
1/22/07 sam i won't watch the movie if not required in my subject. eww! 1 stars
12/16/06 Briseis A complete flop, sorry 2 stars
12/14/06 The Deadly Assassin Oliver Stone messes up history 2 stars
11/10/06 cody a pretty ok film about the alexander, but flashbacks were mess up plot and kinded of gay. 3 stars
10/09/06 Steve Newman Took me three days to watch this on Sky plus - AVOID!!! 2 stars
9/15/06 Doremimi Hey, Angelina, say "Moose and Squirrel." 1 stars
9/07/06 Thomas Semesky A lot of miscast characters. How can you make a someone like Alexander so boring? 1 stars
4/27/06 Alana M. Barquero This was a pretty bad movie. I was forcing myself to watch it because it had Angelina Jolie 2 stars
4/24/06 Anthony Feor The word terrible at its best 1 stars
1/09/06 John Linton Roberson A sad, incomprehensible failure. 1 stars
11/07/05 Major Bludd Not that bad my friends... could have been much worse 4 stars
11/07/05 ELI Colin Farrell's nuts, that alone gets 4 stars. plus the movie was funny! :) 4 stars
10/24/05 David Really pretty boring, could have neen really awesome but totally missed the mark. Shameful. 2 stars
9/28/05 christopher matrisciano This movie was my favorite Irish film next to " In the Name of the Father". 2 stars
9/22/05 JM Troy is better, Alexander is homosexual 2 stars
9/20/05 Jonathon Holmes 100% garbage 1 stars
9/19/05 John he psyhedelic version of Alexander the Great - terrible 1 stars
9/07/05 Melina Deserves to be re-told - different director, cast and story 2 stars
9/02/05 dan mccarthy this is absolute garbage 1 stars
8/25/05 EZ Alexander the Great was great this film was extremley bad 1 stars
8/17/05 --- Too few battles, too much gay stuff, irish accents for greeks? 1 stars
8/16/05 john smith worse than that mistake platoon 1 stars
8/15/05 A Whittick A crass treatment of a potentially great subject matter, laughable at best - mainly crass 1 stars
8/14/05 .:*paris*:. its boring and i didnt understand the story.needs some work! 2 stars
8/08/05 snowcapsdean finally a movie that is outside the box with balls. 5 stars
8/05/05 Richard Simmons Ollie Stone is an overrated piece of s**t, and so are his movies. 1 stars
7/08/05 Moctezuma It wasn't that bad. 4 stars
5/17/05 Pippin007 Boring!! 1 stars
5/10/05 Simon If you want to know how to absolutely ruin an epic story via film, look no further. 1 stars
4/06/05 chris man critics need to get a clue they always whine about wanting something difftrent 5 stars
3/25/05 Greg Ursic I've never checked my watch that many times during a movie. Stone sucks! 1 stars
3/08/05 LarryV Better than expected 4 stars
3/02/05 Cassander Loved it 5 stars
3/02/05 michael weber EHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! Shut up movie 1 stars
3/02/05 David Tsung this just reeks 1 stars
2/24/05 L.G. Ugh... and yuck. Hmmm... History Channel produces beter stuff. Almost fell asleep 1 stars
2/15/05 Melody Arneil For a good laugh watch it on DVD for Angelina Jolie's over the top performance 2 stars
2/11/05 Gabriel Jolivet what a bad movie !!!! do I need to say more !!! 1 stars
2/10/05 Sharon Davis Bad, unexpectedly bad 1 stars
2/07/05 Jeff Anderson A TOTAL BOTCH! Miscast left & right, lots of historical mistakes, & boring to boot!!!!!!!!! 1 stars
2/07/05 marky i love you baby!!! 1 stars
2/04/05 bongeezer Awesome....LY BAD!!!! 1 stars
2/04/05 COlleen GOldrick regretfully not a good one 2 stars
2/03/05 craig varney loved it great escapism 5 stars
2/03/05 Debbi Kalstein disapointing 2 stars
2/03/05 ss OMG! I cant say enough about this movie.. Go see it 4 stars
2/03/05 Kent B. Borrrrrinnnggggggggg zzzzzzzzzzzzzz 2 stars
2/02/05 Clifford C Gardner weak - Colin is out of his depth 2 stars
2/01/05 Mark McConnell totally misunderstood - more important technical battle scenes than lotr 5 stars
1/30/05 caro awful 1 stars
1/29/05 clarance the cobra sucked balls...collin farrel is the biggest fagget and worst actor 1 stars
1/27/05 The Lurchprong Splitter Loses steam after the first 2 hours. Alexander shouldn't've gone to India. 3 stars
1/25/05 Jo-Art Oliver Stone is no Peter Jackson 1 stars
1/20/05 malcolm the longest road trip in history. rosario dawson nekkit was definitely the highlight. 3 stars
1/13/05 pym Stone should lose his license over this one. A big, cheese oozing pile of mumbo-jumbo. 1 stars
1/08/05 keithers.. Made durning the epic craze after lord of the rings 2 stars
1/07/05 flor hidalgo It was a movie I would rent if I have nothing else to do on a sunday. My husband just slept 3 stars
1/07/05 LL great film. dont know what these yanks are talking about (i think theyre all homophobic) 5 stars
12/26/04 Tom Troy and Gladiator were much better films, R Crowe, B Pitt better in Lead roles 2 stars
12/15/04 kev boy best film i've seen in along time......way to go OLIVER!!!!!!!! 5 stars
12/12/04 UMER GLADIATOR-mania should really now stop after this . 2 stars
12/12/04 Kevin I actually enjoyed the film. It wasn't that bad. U can't really judge a movie thats a bio. 4 stars
12/11/04 nitram Alexander assasinated by Oliver Stone! 1 stars
12/11/04 john overdone psychadelic version of Alexander's life - fails in a big way 1 stars
12/10/04 Christie Robnett Very well done movie. Farrell was excellent in this role. Oscar nomination? 4 stars
12/08/04 Kristina Williams Rosario dawson is in it, so it was bound to bomb. 1 stars
12/07/04 Ricardo Never seen s film fail in so many directions simultaneously! 1 stars
12/06/04 wes todd worse battle scenes ever! 2 stars
12/05/04 Jennifer i loved this film! 5 stars
12/05/04 DTree They needed to focus on what made Alexander Great, instead of his romance with Hephastion 2 stars
12/04/04 KayCe Whitacre It is simpply titled "Alexander" because it is so far from "The Great" that we deserve. 1 stars
12/03/04 Michael Alexander, the mother hating, gay porn star. 1 stars
12/03/04 Denise good 3 stars
12/03/04 JL awesome in some parts, but lags in others however its awesome 5 stars
12/03/04 jesna BRILLIANT!! 5 stars
12/02/04 Catholic One of the best action, slashing, war movies I have seen in a while. 5 stars
12/01/04 Ashley This movie portrayed Alexander as a whiny brat and didn't show his military genius 1 stars
12/01/04 Punker omg this sucked nutz 1 stars
12/01/04 Al Guy I knew this was a bad idea. Yuk. 1 stars
11/30/04 A. Newman It was total crap. it could have, no should have, been better 1 stars
11/30/04 Naka "Gay thing" or no gay thing, this movie SUCKS UTTERLY. Stone is a failure. 1 stars
11/30/04 Lyu I'd rather have lung cancer than having to watch this shit again.It was that bad. 1 stars
11/30/04 Mohit Ahuja this movie is a load of crap ! 1 stars
11/28/04 John Keenan mired down, too much homo, story misses Alexander's greatness 2 stars
11/28/04 Alex Montesino To all you bigots, Alexander the Great was GAY! Get over it! 3 stars
11/27/04 calvin fag flick 1 stars
11/27/04 Alexandra And people wonder why Europe hates Americans!!!. European hero turned into flaming gay! 1 stars
11/27/04 T@T homo crap total waste of time 1 stars
11/26/04 carl fun, critics are so knit picky wanabe directors..it's ok not to have to see everything 5 stars
11/26/04 Chuck One of the worse movies I have ever seen. 1 stars
11/26/04 luke hopkins and kilmer were good everyone else at best average 3 stars
11/26/04 Naka Hahahahaha and this thing had OSCAR BUZZ?! lol nope! 1 stars
11/26/04 jcjs i enjoyed it...critics are way too harsh with this...i don't know why 4 stars
11/25/04 the greatest hitchcock movie until psycho, i love it and the cats and! people that dont like this film think there smarter than everyone that does, those pussies. 3 stars
11/25/04 sens4evr 3 hours of my life... gone... wasted... 1 stars
11/25/04 Andy Greschner Alexander the Great? Really? You sure? Alexander the gay waffler? Yeah, thats more like it 1 stars
11/25/04 vagile Alexander the Great on bizarro world maybe. 1 stars
11/24/04 MARZ great film. gotta see it again! 5 stars
11/24/04 gregory neil What a self important flop 1 stars
11/24/04 Arid History for the dummies: directed by one, and acted by another 1 stars
11/22/04 Kristina Williams Saw this at my campus. Not Troy bad, but not Spartacus good. 3 stars
11/20/04 atanu Ultra crap. somebody put a stop to the overrated fucker farrell 1 stars
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  24-Nov-2004 (R)
  DVD: 27-Feb-2007



Directed by
  Oliver Stone

Written by
  Oliver Stone

  Colin Farrell
  Angelina Jolie
  Anthony Hopkins
  Val Kilmer
  Jared Leto
  Rosario Dawson

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