Following the grand calamity that is 'Alexander', Hollywood would be wise to put a moratorium on all things epic based on great people or the wars they undertook. Oliver Stone, who's always had a knack for infusing his noticeable point of view into his features, certainly overindulges without inhibition. Although Alexander's life was short, the movie about him is tediously long, needlessly trite and laborious to watch, painting him as a whiny, crying brat with much instability and vulnerability.
As do all tales of legends begin, a flashback by Ptolemy (Anthony Hopkins) describes Alexander's youth in Macedonia under the watchful eyes of his fierce serpentine mother Olympias (Angelina Jolie) and father King Philip (Val Kilmer). Born into royalty, much is expected of him and both parents spare no opportunity in trying to educate and mold him with their constantly differing abject perspectives and the teachings of the great Aristotle (Christopher Plummer). Olympias greatly succeeds in poisoning his mind and creating mistrust for his father and soon thereafter Philip is assassinated, recounted in dramatic manner much later in the film, Alexander is pronounced king and eventually ventures off Eastwards in search of eternal glory and the conquest of the world, taking as his bride, in a move puzzling to those closest to him, the Persian Roxane (Rosario Dawson).
His army fights wars, gobbles up lands and covers much of the then known globe. Most of this is never shown though, instead, quick commentaries develop many of these significant periods with onscreen flashes of aftermaths or maps showing distances covered. So continuous and recurring are these narrations, mostly by Hopkins with scant bits by Olympias' via letters to her son, that when there isn't a feud being quarreled or an important decision being made, we actually listen to voice-overs progress the story. It's like trying to watch a three-hour long audio book. There are also numerous references to Achilles, so much so that it wouldn't be too surprising to consider this almost an inferior sequel to the already mediocre 'Troy'. The scant battles, spectacularly staged for the most part, hold little interest sustaining capabilities for those who have by now have become all too familiar with the usual tricks involving aerial shots and hand held camerawork.
It becomes very clear by the midway mark that Stone holds much personal fascination for the legend of Alexander. He has had in the past made biopics about other men of power; 'Doors' dealing with the life of Jim Morrison and later, the powerful 'Nixon', but his desire to barter his similar sense of great awe for this mythic figure for any semblance of entertainment clearly tests viewer patience. Suggestive homosexuality, incest and the faltering, uneven accents of the entire cast result in further collective guffaws from the audience. The rise and fall of Alexander starts to echo the rise and fall of Stone, who has by this point in his career managed to drown everyone with his own excesses and like Alexander's men near the end of the journey, we feel dejected and can't wait to get back home. - Faizan Rashid