Oliver Stone's epic portrait of one of the greatest figures in history had the potential to be as epic, mythic, and great as the person it is about. What it turned out ot be instead was a bloated, hollow, unfocused mess filled with bland dialogue and some really out there and stilted performances. It's certainly not for lack of trying though.
For this should have been masterpiece, Stone at least assembled an awesome and talented cast that includes Colin Farrell, Angelina Jolie, Val Kilmer, Jared Leto, Anthony Hopkins, Rosario Dawson, and an all too short appearance by Christopher Plummer. Farrell was a decent enough choice, but I' not sure I really like the characterization all that much. Kilmer was okay, but seemed to be channelling his take on Jim Morrison a bit much. Jolie started off fine, but could have stood to dial it down quite a bit, and go for something more subtle and nuanced. Same goes for Rosario, and once again, Stone makes a film where women unfortunately get the short end of the stick. Hopkins was okay, but seemed better suited for a better film. Leto was likewise fair, but sorta came off as a bit too fey.
I liked that the film tried to tackle many facets of Alexander the Great's life, personality, and career, and had some decent themes to it, but it all comes off as really overblown, a tad pretentious, and actually rather boring and meandering. For someone as colorful as Alexander, this shouldn't be the case. The battle scenes are epic, really well done, and some of the best parts of the film, but sadly they are too few and far between, which is a problem when the film has a 175 minute running time and all the other stuff, which good at times, becomes really difficult to sit through.
I will give the film props for having a historical advisor on board (though oddly uncredited for whatever reason), and the costumes, period details, and all that are top notch, as are the cinematography, and Vangelis's score (which is atypical of what he usually does). Overall though, I'm not on board, even though I really wanted to be. I'd like to think that I knew what Stone was going for, but I can't really figure it out. Maybe I need to see one of the other cuts he came out with, since those are supposedly better.
As this one stands though, it's not a failure, but it's still an average, out of control and unbalanced mess.
The action plays something like the sword and sandal epics of the 1950s, and the battlefield scenes are passable. The "rousing" speech delivered by Farrell on the eve of battle is silly and pretentious though, just like this over burdened film. Stone does aim high, much too high, and maybe that's why this movie crashes. Alexander's story is a compelling human as well as historical story, but Stone doesn't do him justice here.
Many say that the longer, final cut is markedly better, that it is more coherent. I don't know, not having seen it, but in the interest of fairness, I do not dismiss it. If you are into epics like Gladiator, Troy, and Kingdom of Heaven, you may want to consider watching it. If you end up with an Oedipal complex though, don't say I didn't warn you.
Every single aspect of this film reaks, bad acting (except perhaps Angelina Jolie, who here finally finds a role in which her botoxed lips look apropos), terible makeup (what the heck are all these manly men doing with dark eyeshadow?) and "epic" battle scenes that are nothing but a mess of masses. If the point of the excercise was to show that war was hell and not glamerous, but simply carnage on a wide spread scale, then why bother adding all the titles ("left phalanx, etc.)?
Stone's direction in this "final cut" is all the more mystifying - jumping back and forth - "Bablyon 9 years earlier" - was simply lazy. He could have easily connected the dots with flashbacks (as he attemped to show with the catacomb scene where Philip showed his son Alexander wall paintings of mythological events that showed the gods messing with the fate of men).
The entire enterprise seemed as pointless as Alexanders' continuing to quest into India after conquering Babylon; including the vapid, overly long, tag ending where Anthony Hopkins waxes poetic (in theory) about the titan of a man, who was loved, misunderstood, hated, misunderstood, idolized, and did I mention misunderstood? It was comical watching the scribe following Hopkins around the garden, with the scribes' second holding the ink pot - you've got to be kidding me!!!!! Lost in the detail - perhaps that would have been a better title.
The narration, rather then actual showing what happend kind of sucks - but, there was really no way around it.
Alexander should be happy he got put in a hollywood film, because other then being portrayed in a movie - he really was not that great.
And he certaintly did not out due Achelles, like he wanted to so bad in his lifetime.
He was a power hungry, land hungry fool, who kept nothing in his life in check or even in stone, for his entire kingdom fell only years after his death.