Alexander Movie Review: 2 out of 5 stars!

Director Oliver Stone has never been one to shy away from controversial films and his new film "Alexander" is no exception. The film stars Colin Farrell as the Macedonian king who would become known to history as Alexander the Great, the greatest military tactician ever who conquered most of the known world before turning 25.

The film is told largely in narrative form with Ptomely (Sir Anthony Hopkins); telling Egyptian scribes the story of Alexander so they can properly record his life from one who knew him well. The film moves back and forth through time one moment showing Alexander as a child, then returning to long segments of him as an adult before veering off to another era or moment from his past.

While this is informative, it causes the film to constantly struggle to find a flow as the pacing of the film is largely plodding and dull, dragging on for almost three hours without delivering a sufficient payout for viewers.

One of the biggest issues with the film is the casting, as while fine actors and actresses comprise the cast, they just do not fit the characters. Farrell's Irish accent is very out of place in the role as is Angelina Jolie's Transylvanian sounding dialect in the role of Alexanders mother. While this could be forgiven in a better film, the movie fails on almost every level as the characters come off as bland and highly unsympathetic. Alexander spends precious little time in battle as less than 30 minutes of the three hour film are given to his battles which is odd considering that it is his battles that have caused him to forever be preserved in history.

Instead, Stone and writing partner Christopher Kyle, focus on Alexander's issues with his father Philip (Val Kilmer), and his Mother as he is shown to be an inconsistent character that is driven to his actions via demons in his past. Yet this plays out without any tension or pretense of character development as Alexander is constant as a whiny individual who becomes more obsessed with his image and feats which is a contrast to history that recorded Alexander as a driven and loving individual who wanted to unite the nations of the world.

Instead the film plays lip service to this as one moment Alexander is spouting lines about unity and brotherhood and the next moment his is making bedroom eyes with servant boys and his friend Hephaistion ( Jared Leto). If Stones goal was to show that Alexander was an immature and paranoid individual he succeeds in this but what is utterly unforgivable is the way the film undermines his brilliance as a tactician almost to the point of contempt. There is one scene of battle planning and it is carried out in a very ho-hum manner that does not show just how bold and innovative his tactics were. To further confound this issue, the camera work in the two battles scenes is so poorly done as the camera lurches from side to side and all over without any reason or cohesion. The battles are reduced to little more than massed armies with no attention given to the brilliance of Alexander in changing the course of a battle with his innovations and come across as boring as there is nothing stirring or exciting about them.

I know that there will be much controversy regarding the accuracy of the film and the portrayal of Alexander but what cannot be disputed is that the ambition of the film and the possibilities of the story are not achieved as there is little in this film that works aside from the great sets of ancient Babylon. Stone seems to have bitten off much more than he can chew as neither he nor the cast seem up to the challenge as the plodding story, weak and poorly filmed action sequences and the weak dialogue all combine to do what no army on earth could do, defeat Alexander.

2 stars out of 5.
review by Gareth

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