Colin Farrell, Angelina Jolie, Anthony Hopkins, Val Kilmer, Rosario Dawson, Jared Leto and Christopher Plummer

Oliver Stone

Running Time:
175 mins

  • Appalling dialogue
  • Only two big battle sequences
  • Colin Farrell doesn't have the presence to make the role memorable

"Fortune favours the bold"

Destined for greatness, Alexander (Farrell) was told by his mother Olympias (Jolie) he would rule the world. After the death of his father Phillip (Kilmer) at the hands of the Persians, Alexander started a seven-year campaign of conquest that would see the Macedonian Kingdom engulf the entire known world.

After Oscar success with Gladiator, the sword and sandals epic has found a new lease of life but does Alexander have what it takes to conqueror the box office or will it die in battle? The answer is that it gets stabbed repeatedly and dies a bloody and painful death.

With a wealth of material about one of the most powerful men in the ancient world, Alexander just isn't interesting enough to hold your attention for almost three hours. The film charts the life of the great leader, through childhood to his early death at thirty-three, showing his raise to power and his military campaign to bring the known world under his rule. The problem with the film is that he we only see his military tactical genius at work once.

Taking on 250,000 Persians, Alexander takes the fight to them and claims an epic victory. This is vividly brought to live on the screen but the problem is that you are not that impressed with what you are seeing. As special effects technology gives the filmmaker the chance to recreate any epic confrontation with all the scope and grandeur that these would have looked like at the time but you can't help but think you've seen this all before and much better. Oliver Stone makes the mistake of taking the camera far too close to the action for the majority of the battle. While this is all fine and good when showing what is happening to the lead characters and the horrors of battle but this takes away a lot of the scale of the confrontation, making the fight seem smaller than it actually was.

Leading the production is Colin Farrell as Alexander. Still Hollywood's golden boy, Farrell does his best with the material but seems to be lacking something that would command respect and loyalty of his army. This is a man that people would follow to the ends of the earth but Farrell just doesn't convey this on film. You can't just put your finger on what it missing but it really does something to the believability of the character and the film. Angelina Jolie has the strongest part in the movie but doesn't get the screen time necessary to convey Olympias's more interesting characteristics. We don't get to know much about her background, her turbulent relationship with Phillip and what happened to her during Alexander's campaign. As the older Ptolemy, Anthony Hopkins provides the narration for the piece as he dictates the history of Alexander's life in the Egyptian city of Alexandria. Val Kilmer does a good job as King Phillip, Alexander's father and inspiration. He is the man that Alexander drives to be better than. Jared Leto plays Hephaistion, Alexander best friend and the only person he ever trusted and loved. Rosario Dawson has little to do as Roxane other than look beautiful and treat Alexander with contempt.

Oliver Stone has always been an interesting director, providing his own take on historical events but with Alexander he has gone a little too far. Interpreting history for his own dramatical needs, he makes Alexander a bi-sexual, a conqueror who sees everyone as equal and a misunderstood visionary who was millennia ahead of his time in his political thinking. Some these points may be accurate but it is the way they are delivered that makes you question the film's validity. In parts, the dialogue is appalling and almost cringe-worthy. At times you feel sorry for cast have to deliver it. He copes with the epic scale of the production well, as you'd expect, as the film is a visual feast in parts but with modern productions values and the amount of money spent on the production you wouldn't expect anything less. It is the other factors that bring the movie down.

The story of Alexander had so much cinematic potential but what we have here is a missed opportunity that is killed by sheer over indulgence. As he co-wrote, produced and directed the film, the blame for this mess falls squarely at the feet of Oliver Stone. Alexander may have conquered most of the ancient world but he will have real trouble making any kind of impression on the modern one.


Presented in Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1 with Dolby Digital 5.1, the movie is presented extremely well.


Director's Cut

Commentary by Director Oliver Stone
The new version gets a commentary from the director who still tries to emphasise that this is one of this best movies. There is nothing wrong with enthusiasm for a project and to be far he does point out the changes he has made and the reasons behind them. He talks extensively about the Maltese shoot, the cast and the characters. He also talks about the historical facts that the film is based upon and how difficult it was to track down fact about Alexander. This is a good commentary from a passionate director. While he doesn't criticise himself enough, the still is humble enough to say what didn't work and what he did to fix it.


The single disc Director's cut of the film isn't as feature packed as the theatrical version release and this is a shame. The buyer should have had the choice of having the extras disc with this version as well and not having to buy or rent both versions to see the Director's different visions. The commentary track is good however but the lack of anything else is a shame. Buy the Theatrical Version if you are a fan.


Theatrical Version

Disc One:
Audio commentary by Oliver Stone and historian/Alexander biographer Robin Lane Fox

Disc Two:
'Resurrecting Alexander' feature
'Perfect Is The Ebemy Of God' feature
'The Death Of Alexander' feature
Teaser trailer Theatrical trailer
Weblink to the online world of Alexander The Great



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