PictureFinally a decent transfer for this film! Boasting a theatrically correct 2.35:1 ratio, this is a superb transfer. Keeping in mind it's a 3 hour movie, no compression artefacts were noticed, colours are bright and vivid, with no sign of colour bleed and black levels were dark, without losing detail. Flesh tones throughout were natural and with such a huge cast, the differences between everyone were easily noticed. Detail levels were superb, each strand of hair was easily noticeable for example and as this is certainly a sumptuous visual tale, it's good to see it faithfully reproduced. As for grain, halos and edge enhancement, I have to say I didn't notice any as such, nor did any dust or scratches make themselves known. This certainly is infinitely better than the Region 3 cinema version I own and am very happy the transfer was this good.
SoundStarting with the negative as such, unlike the aforementioned Region 3 version, this does not contain a DTS mix. However, this Dolby Digital 5.1 track is superb, with clear, clean and crisp dialogue emitting from the centre speaker, as well as excellent use of the rears, most noticeably during the battle scenes, although they punctuate the narrative with atmospheric ambience and the Vangelis score. In fact during the battle scenes, the soundstage is superb and encompassing with arrows whizzing past you, but even during the more quiet moments, the ambience level is great. LFE isn't used overwhelmingly, but when it is, its presence is felt nicely. Compared to the earlier review and the alternate R3 version, this is superb stuff and I'd seriously live without the DTS mix, because this mix is fine as it stands even if the DTS mix is slightly better.
The only other track on this disk is the commentary track, which obviously helps with compression settings.
ExtrasOn disk 1, the sole extra we have is the commentary track by the director, Oliver Stone. On disk 2, however we delve much more into the making of with 3 featurettes, all shot by Oliver's son Sean. The first featurette, Resurrecting Alexander, runs for 27 minutes and is a fascinating and candid insight into the pre-production and production side of the movie, from Stone referring to Farrell as a boozer, to Farrell spicing up each sentence with the colourful verbs he seems to like, this is quite entertaining to gain a grasp on the fact that this is more Stone's dream rather than a Warner Brothers movie. Perfect Is The Enemy Of Good is the second featurette and runs for 29 minutes in total. Again, it features a more candid and definitely no-holds-barred attitude to the making of. This time we learn some of the mistakes made, such as an out of focus shot which to re-do cost $30,000 even though it only took a few minutes to film. Quite shocking really, but at least we have more of an idea of the money making machine that is Hollywood - or at least one director who isn't really part of it, as he openly admits that having not made a Hollywood movie since “Any Given Sunday” (his words - not mine, as he has made 3 movies in-between) and that because of this, there's a nervousness to give him a project, especially one which is this epic in scope. The Death of Alexander is our final Stone filmed featurette and lasts for 31 minutes. Again, candid and open, this is the complete opposite of the EPK's we are normally forced to endure with on-set problems seen quite openly (the missing/damaged film for 2 days filming), Colin Farrell accidentally breaking his ankle and wrist, having fallen down some stairs, with 3 days left to shoot and Stone clearly feeling the strain of a huge shoot. We hear from several other actors including Leto, Dawson and Jolie, the women being far more articulate than the men, Jolie being the most honest stating that she learnt more about herself than anything else. What these 3 featurettes do ultimately is give you much more of an insight into the making, there's no slapping backs and niceties here for the camera, it's much more honest and in itself, is highly informative and entertaining.Vangelis Scores Alexander is a short 5 minute featurette, featuring Vangelis elaborating his process of creating music for movies. He may be gifted in terms of generating the soundtracks for several movies, but I'm afraid he seemed clearly off his rocker with some of the things he said. Spinal Tap said it best when they said “It's such a fine line between stupid and clever.” Finally, we have the teaser and theatrical trailer for the movie.
VerdictIn my opinion, while this isn't quite the epic it wants to be, this isn't really as bad as the critics made out - one man's meat is indeed another man's poison, but the way the knives have been out on this are probably more aimed at nit-picking and Oliver Stone himself. Although there may be some historical ambiguity, it appears that it was researched heavily as well as having a historian on-board for authenticity so the blame for any lapses in realism would be hopefully minimal and even if not, again it shouldn't impact your enjoyment of the movie. Don't always believe in the ramblings of the critics, judge for yourselves and you'll probably be entertained, but certainly don't buy into the harshness that has been lavished on this movie, not only can I name more movies less entertaining, it simply didn't deserve the bashing.
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