Alexander The Great, or not so great as some critics have dismissed this movie, but is it as bad as they say, or are the critics as usual full of themselves? Our tale is not a linear one, but it charts the epic (and that term is truly justified) tale from Alexander's rise from boy to man, from King to Legend, where he led the Greek army from victory to victory, where others had not dared to journey, he dared and he won.
Alexander's (Farrell) journey is witnessed initially from his upbringing, with his father Phillip (Kilmer) and mother Olympias (Jolie) clearly hating each other, he is understandably torn but like any son, he tends to side with his mother which doesn't sit well with Phillip. Eventually, Alexander's father chooses another wife with the intention that he will have a new heir, but history and the movie shows us that this didn't occur and Alexander eventually became the new King. With his new found power, his empire grew stronger as did his desire for conquest and self-growth. He led his armies further than any predecessor, but as this and history tells us, eventually it would lead to his downfall, not just against an adversary but internally as well. From Persia to India, he was never defeated and absorbed the cultures, taking a non-Macedonian wife, which also had its own repercussions.....A short synopsis because, being a true story you either know your history or you have a good idea of what to expect. Being that this has been savaged and critiqued highly, it's hard to put a proverbial “new spin” on it, so let me start off by stating this review will be generally positive, indeed somewhat of a counterpoint. This is an epic story and for the most part, it is truly stunning visually with some amazing cinematography and set design I've seen for some time. The movie isn't short - indeed this director's cut is only several minutes shorter than the theatrical version, but it has had new footage inserted, some cuts and generally is quite brisk, although in honesty I saw the theatrical version initially and didn't think that that was slow paced either - I do tend to prefer cerebral over action and so the story held my attention. However, as stated, critics went at this with all guns blazing, but to me several of the arguments are poor and without merit. An example of the critics illogical ramblings are that Colin Farrell, yes the Irish actor, plays Alexander with an Irish accent. Shocking. However, nobody bats an eyelid at Sean Connery in “The Untouchables” as an Irishman or indeed as a Russian in “The Hunt for Red October” - I mean, how authentic a Russian accent is it when he says “It'shhhh a shhhubmarine” or “Launch the torpedoshhhh” - ok a slight exaggeration, but the point is valid. No-one says anything because it's Mr. Connery but if you can accept one, you should be able to accept the other - if not, you're not only unreasonable, your point is invalid and since no-one mocks Mr. Connery playing anything at all, why bring it up? Anyway, compared to Farrell's everyday accent, it is considerably toned down, so an effort was made to conceal it, unlike some Russian submarine commanders......Anyway, accent issues aside, it is well directed and shot, with some stunning views. Farrell may not be the embodiment of Alexander himself, nor may he have been the right choice, but he does his best and ultimately it's not too bad, even if when he is in a blonde wig at times looks rather odd. Kilmer, is fine here showing that after movies such as the impressive “Wonderland”, when he's on form, he is a delight to watch. Jolie, whom I rarely have a bad word for, is superbly sexual in terms of hinting to us about the incestuous relationship between mother and son, yet when her plotting unfolds before us, we see her as incredibly calculating and as such, she makes us realise how potentially evil Olympias was. Unlike many would have you believe, she embodies Olympias with a Russian-esque accent, which makes her somewhat more convincing in the role, particularly making her sound more ruthless when she's spitting venomous barbs towards both Phillip and Alexander. She certainly steals practically all the scenes she's in due to this intensity. Rosario Dawson, is fine in her role as Roxanna, Alexander's wife, but as she is a “barbarian” she rarely has much to speak, except towards the end, which although may be a waste of talent, it fulfils the role more than adequately. The other supporting roles from Jared Leto to Brian Blessed are all fine and no-one is particularly “cheesy” or out of place, although I am still not quite convinced over Anthony Hopkins as the narrator to our tale.
All this praise may seem like I am a huge fan of the movie, yet while I enjoyed it, I can see that it is still flawed. Its main problem is fitting so many stories of Alexander's life into so little time, even at 3 hours in length to fully envisage his accomplishments and the battles that were fought; I wouldn't have been surprised to see this made more as a 6 hour mini-series. Yes I can hear the groans, but I'm not suggesting a 6 hour cut of the movie - I'm simply stating that such a tale, of this magnitude, is simply trying to fit the proverbial gallon into a quart size container and that is it's biggest fault. Stone may have indeed bitten off more than he could accommodate in the running time of this movie, but if it's not a masterpiece, it's certainly an entertaining failure and that's not a bad thing. If you consider the scope of the “Lord of the Rings” and how generally, the extended versions are considered the best, that whole story, while chopped into 3 movies, takes nearly 12 hours to tell - for a simple quest of the destruction of a little ring. Here, we are talking about a whole life and 3 hours can't possibly do it justice.So having argued against the critics, while still pointing out the negatives, is this a good movie. Well I'd rather watch this than certain movies made by someone whose surname is Lucas, because it hits more of the right notes with me than his current output does. That's not saying this is great, just stating a preference - but if you can leave pre-conceptions behind and deal with minor niggles (c'mon - accents? That's a terrible argument to dislike a movie) then you should enjoy this, if not, well there's lots worse out there, such as DeNiro's recent output.