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Overall Rating
2.04

Awesome: 9.6%
Worth A Look: 4.52%
Average: 6.21%
Pretty Bad: 39.55%
Total Crap40.11%

10 reviews, 117 user ratings


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Alexander
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by Scott Weinberg

"With great ego comes great unintended hilarity."
2 stars

It's tough to know where one begins dissecting a cinematic misstep of this epic scale. You could point to the endlessly tiresome monologues, the hilariously overwrought acting stylings, the indecipherable action scenes...or you could be an optimist and mention how lovely the costumes are. And the matte paintings, too.

Whoever thought Oliver Stone was the guy to direct a swords and sandals epic like Alexander...well, let's just call those people a bit misguided (if, of course, the expenditure of about $215 million could qualify as "a bit"). Stone is a talented filmmaker who's made some truly great movies...most of which consist of people talking, arguing, speechifying and committing vast conspiracies. Aside from his excellent Platoon, there's not much in Stone's filmography that implies a talent for grand, sweeping costume drama / historical epic / massive action film.

And here's the final proof of Stone's limitations: It's called Alexander and damn if it's not one of the most overcooked and undersatisfying movies of the year. One's cautious optimism turns into a creeping sense of dread almost immediately: Angelina Jolie is on hand as a Greek woman who insists on talking with a thick Russian accent. Our protagonist, the legendary Macedonian warlord, wavers between an American accent and an Irish brogue. The rest of the cast members were apparently assigned accents at random. One hates to harp on something as obvious as "flimsy accents" - but nothing drags you out of a potentially dramatic story like Angelina Jolie doing a Natasha Fatale impersonation.

Alexander is, of course, a story about the renowned Alexander the Great. And that my movie-mate turned to me after we'd just spent three hours watching this film and said "So...what made the guy so great after all?" is a clear indication of some truly muddled storytelling. If a filmmaker cannot explain in 180 minutes why Alexander was eventually dubbed "The Great" - that's a filmmaker wading in an end of the pool he's probably not meant for.

Like all historical epics that need to be dumbed down for the masses, Alexander employs a horribly withered narration device: a friz-headed Anthony Hopkins (as Ptolemy) rambles on and on, endlessly offering up story points that would probably be better served were they delivered, y'know, visually. Having an old man reminisce about some massive battle isn't really the same as, well, showing the audience a massive battle. And in a movie that demands, yes, three full hours of your life, lazy voice-over narration techniques are highly unwelcome across the board.

That's not to imply that Alexander doesn't have battles in it. There are two: one that's actually pretty impressive when the cameras stop twirling through the trees, and one that must be impressive because it features elephants vs. horses. This second battle comes way too late in the game to save Alexander; those who've made it that far will be too annoyed to appreciate the flick's last lingering traces of energy.

One could perhaps defend Stone's approach to the material by saying "He could have just delivered a whole mess of action scenes, but we've seen that time and again!" And I could respond "Fair enough, but why is the film so intent on replacing mindless action with toothless drama? Why such a delirious devotion to the angst-ridden minutae of Al's inner demons? Why the endless Macbethian whinings? How ham-fisted does the Oedipal symbolism have to be before audience members weep in submission?" It's not a lack of action that dooms Alexander; it's the lack of anything resembling dramatic cohesion.

The movie rambles from spot to spot with nary a signpost nor a reason offered as to why we should even care about the people onscreen. And the less said about the "gay angle", the better. Stone has the stones to imply a whole lot of guy-on-guy subtext (so much, in fact, that in ceases being subtext and morphs immediately into broad farce) but pulls back from actually addressing the characters' homosexuality. It's as if everyone's baking cakes but nobody's allowed to say the word "cake".

Colin Farrell, normally a tough and commanding presence in any movie, is made mild and mawkish in Stone's hands. Sure, it's tough to act beneath hair that silly, but basically Farrell's just not the guy for this part. Like, not even almost the right guy. Angelina Jolie, get this, plays his Mom. Yeah. Forget that she's literally ONE year older than Mr. Farrell in the movie we call "real life" - the main sticking point is that Ms. Jolie, for all her gorgeousness and profoundly puffy lip-ness, is about as home in a Grecian Epic as Carrot Top would be in, well, any movie. Basically, all the leads are distracting; not one of them even remotely 'melts' into their role. Even the best performances in the flick (say, Val Kilmer as Alexander's one eyed, two-faced father) suffer from silly prosthetic scars or hilarious vocal inflections. (Yep, there's that accent thing again...)

Alexander would be camp on a Mommie Dearest level, were it just a bit sillier. As it stands, this mammoth miscue is simply too boring to be "so bad it's good". The handful of unintentional chuckles are mired amidst a film so bloated, so dry, and so sloppily constructed, one simply boggles that it was directed by the man responsible for JFK and Born on the Fourth of July. You could literally chop Alexander up into six 30-minute blocks, reassemble it at random, and the movie would make the exact same amount of sense (i.e. none).

Every filmmaker out there is due to lay an egg or two throughout their career, and clearly Oliver Stone is no exception. But to deliver an epic this meandering and tiresome, and then insist we sit through three consecutive hours of the thing, just reeks of vanity and, frankly, a bizarre sense of cluelessness.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=11182&reviewer=128
originally posted: 11/24/04 19:37:34
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User Comments

8/17/12 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
9/04/08 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
8/21/08 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
11/06/07 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
7/30/07 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
1/29/07 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
12/17/06 Briseis A complete flop, sorry 2 stars
12/14/06 The Deadly Assassin Oliver Stone messes up history 2 stars
11/11/06 cody a pretty ok film about the alexander, but flashbacks were mess up plot and kinded of gay. 3 stars
10/10/06 Steve Newman Took me three days to watch this on Sky plus - AVOID!!! 2 stars
9/16/06 Doremimi Hey, Angelina, say "Moose and Squirrel." 1 stars
9/08/06 Thomas Semesky A lot of miscast characters. How can you make a someone like Alexander so boring? 1 stars
4/28/06 Alana M. Barquero This was a pretty bad movie. I was forcing myself to watch it because it had Angelina Jolie 2 stars
4/25/06 Anthony Feor The word terrible at its best 1 stars
1/10/06 John Linton Roberson A sad, incomprehensible failure. 1 stars
11/08/05 Major Bludd Not that bad my friends... could have been much worse 4 stars
11/08/05 ELI Colin Farrell's nuts, that alone gets 4 stars. plus the movie was funny! :) 4 stars
10/25/05 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
9/23/05 JM Troy is better, Alexander is homosexual 2 stars
9/21/05 Jonathon Holmes 100% garbage 1 stars
9/20/05 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
9/03/05 dan mccarthy this is absolute garbage 1 stars
8/26/05 EZ Alexander the Great was great this film was extremley bad 1 stars
8/18/05 --- 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
8/16/05 A Whittick A crass treatment of a potentially great subject matter, laughable at best - mainly crass 1 stars
8/15/05 .:*paris*:. its boring and i didnt understand the story.needs some work! 2 stars
8/13/05 Aldo I RATHER PICK MY NOSE.....ALEXANDER THE GAY 1 stars
8/09/05 snowcapsdean finally a movie that is outside the box with balls. 5 stars
8/06/05 Richard Simmons Ollie Stone is an overrated piece of s**t, and so are his movies. 1 stars
7/09/05 Moctezuma It wasn't that bad. 4 stars
5/18/05 Pippin007 Boring!! 1 stars
5/11/05 Simon If you want to know how to absolutely ruin an epic story via film, look no further. 1 stars
4/07/05 chris man critics need to get a clue they always whine about wanting something difftrent 5 stars
3/26/05 Greg Ursic I've never checked my watch that many times during a movie. Stone sucks! 1 stars
3/09/05 LarryV Better than expected 4 stars
3/03/05 Cassander Loved it 5 stars
3/03/05 michael weber EHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! Shut up movie 1 stars
3/02/05 David Tsung this just reeks 1 stars
2/25/05 L.G. Ugh... and yuck. Hmmm... History Channel produces beter stuff. Almost fell asleep 1 stars
2/16/05 Melody Arneil For a good laugh watch it on DVD for Angelina Jolie's over the top performance 2 stars
2/12/05 Gabriel Jolivet what a bad movie !!!! do I need to say more !!! 1 stars
2/11/05 Sharon Davis Bad, unexpectedly bad 1 stars
2/08/05 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
2/05/05 bongeezer Awesome....LY BAD!!!! 1 stars
2/05/05 COlleen GOldrick regretfully not a good one 2 stars
2/04/05 craig varney loved it great escapism 5 stars
2/04/05 Debbi Kalstein disapointing 2 stars
2/04/05 ss OMG! I cant say enough about this movie.. Go see it 4 stars
2/03/05 Kent B. Borrrrrinnnggggggggg zzzzzzzzzzzzzz 2 stars
2/03/05 Clifford C Gardner weak - Colin is out of his depth 2 stars
2/02/05 Naka HAHAHAHAHAAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH. 1 stars
2/02/05 Mark McConnell totally misunderstood - more important technical battle scenes than lotr 5 stars
1/31/05 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
1/26/05 Jo-Art Oliver Stone is no Peter Jackson 1 stars
1/21/05 malcolm the longest road trip in history. rosario dawson nekkit was definitely the highlight. 3 stars
1/14/05 pym Stone should lose his license over this one. A big, cheese oozing pile of mumbo-jumbo. 1 stars
1/09/05 keithers.. Made durning the epic craze after lord of the rings 2 stars
1/08/05 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
12/27/04 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
12/13/04 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
12/12/04 nitram Alexander assasinated by Oliver Stone! 1 stars
12/12/04 john overdone psychadelic version of Alexander's life - fails in a big way 1 stars
12/11/04 Christie Robnett Very well done movie. Farrell was excellent in this role. Oscar nomination? 4 stars
12/09/04 Kristina Williams Rosario dawson is in it, so it was bound to bomb. 1 stars
12/08/04 Ricardo Never seen s film fail in so many directions simultaneously! 1 stars
12/07/04 wes todd worse battle scenes ever! 2 stars
12/06/04 Jennifer i loved this film! 5 stars
12/06/04 DTree They needed to focus on what made Alexander Great, instead of his romance with Hephastion 2 stars
12/05/04 KayCe Whitacre It is simpply titled "Alexander" because it is so far from "The Great" that we deserve. 1 stars
12/04/04 Michael Alexander, the mother hating, gay porn star. 1 stars
12/04/04 Denise good 3 stars
12/04/04 JL awesome in some parts, but lags in others however its awesome 5 stars
12/03/04 jesna BRILLIANT!! 5 stars
12/03/04 Catholic One of the best action, slashing, war movies I have seen in a while. 5 stars
12/02/04 Ashley This movie portrayed Alexander as a whiny brat and didn't show his military genius 1 stars
12/02/04 Punker omg this sucked nutz 1 stars
12/02/04 Al Guy I knew this was a bad idea. Yuk. 1 stars
12/01/04 A. Newman It was total crap. it could have, no should have, been better 1 stars
12/01/04 Naka "Gay thing" or no gay thing, this movie SUCKS UTTERLY. Stone is a failure. 1 stars
12/01/04 Lyu I'd rather have lung cancer than having to watch this shit again.It was that bad. 1 stars
12/01/04 Mohit Ahuja this movie is a load of crap ! 1 stars
11/29/04 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
11/28/04 calvin fag flick 1 stars
11/28/04 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
11/27/04 carl fun, critics are so knit picky wanabe directors..it's ok not to have to see everything 5 stars
11/27/04 Chuck One of the worse movies I have ever seen. 1 stars
11/27/04 luke hopkins and kilmer were good everyone else at best average 3 stars
11/27/04 Naka Hahahahaha and this thing had OSCAR BUZZ?! lol nope! 1 stars
11/27/04 STANZ WORST MOVIE EVER!! OLIVER SHOULD BE ASHAMED!! 1 stars
11/26/04 jcjs i enjoyed it...critics are way too harsh with this...i don't know why 4 stars
11/26/04 Shane WORST MOVIE EVER!!! FUCK THIS REALLY SUCKED MORE THAN NETHING COULD EVER SUCK!!! 1 stars
11/26/04 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
11/26/04 sens4evr 3 hours of my life... gone... wasted... 1 stars
11/26/04 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
11/25/04 MARZ great film. gotta see it again! 5 stars
11/25/04 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
11/23/04 Kristina Williams Saw this at my campus. Not Troy bad, but not Spartacus good. 3 stars
11/21/04 atanu Ultra crap. somebody put a stop to the overrated fucker farrell 1 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  24-Nov-2004 (R)
  DVD: 27-Feb-2007

UK
  N/A

Australia
  20-Jan-2005


Directed by
  Oliver Stone

Written by
  Oliver Stone

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



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