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 Alexander
 Critic's Rating
   [C-]
 Date Posted
   4th December, 2004
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Cast: Colin Farrell, Rosario Dawson, Anthony Hopkins
Director: Oliver Stone

Oliver Stone's pet project,  Alexander, in a mild dimension, might be perceived as a guileful manifestation of a writer's Jehovah. The man who eclipsed them all, might well have had his saga delved into and his cinematic portrayal expressed in an intense, penetrative and absolute manner whose aura would have held the world he once conquered, in awe bordering on idolatry. Oliver Stone's lifelong fascination alone, would have foretold him that this could well be a genuine magnum opus. Or so we would all like to think.

Parented by an ogre of a father in King Philip ( played by Val Kilmer ), and a spiteful, conniving serpent lover of a mother in Queen Olympias ( Angelina Jolie), Alexander ( Collin Farrell ) matures into the archetypal prince, in appearance at least. For what is inhabited beneath this exterior demeanour, is a distaste for his mother's manipulative mannerisms and her futile attempts to envenom his mind against his father. He grows up embroiled in their animosity, as a contemplative yet tenacious young man.

As young Alexander wrests the control of countries from Egpyt to India, ravaging armies and coercing the loyalties of it's surviving people, a silent mutiny gradually builds up to a confrontation between Alexander and one of his own comrades. Over the course of the barely tolerable three hours, there are similar altercations, and Alexander's reaction, is always one of being peeved and defensive, rather than the ruthless barbarian that history depicts.

Alexander's bisexuality is touched upon, through the coquetry with his soulmate Hephaiston ( Jared Leto) and declarations of eternal love but bodily contact is constrained to a mere hug. The aching tenderness between these two however, is foreplay for the animalistic and violence propelled omnisexual content, that Alexander attains through his feisty and cat-like wife, Roxane (Rosario Dawson).

Stone's alternate obsession, with Queen Olympias, might well be attributed to Angelina Jolie's goddess-like image. The frequent cutaways to the snake draped Queen and her constant nagging and inquests is unfathomable. It is reminiscent of perhaps, how a concerned mother might write to a workaholic on Wall Street in this present era, rather than a Queen querying her son who is off conquering the world. This is not the only instance by which Mr. Stone's insipid script provokes a snicker. The muddled up brogues, the mechanic battle speeches and last but certainly not the least, Collin Farrell, all contribute to this mighty debacle.

Farrell's characterization of a literary deity, comes across as adolescent debauchery. The lack of conviction and the constant wavering of the character being confident, cocky or insecure, all lead to a negative complexity that leaves the legend in shambles. Farrell's incompetence coupled with the script's lack of substance, degrades Alexander The Great in almost every aspect possible. Jared Leto delivers the only authentic performance, in an acting display that was downright horrid ( the irony of an all star cast) .

The narrative provided by Ptolemy (Anthony Hopkins), is at best, mediocre. Typically conventional and hence, proving to be dull, it fails to sustain an audience for the stretched time length and subsequently, can do nothing to provide a much needed facelift for Mr.Stone's uninspiring script.

The positives, few and far between, center around the war elephants in the final battle scene. The hand held camera routine, commonplace nowadays, was passable, but the elephants showcase Stone in his element. The red tint through which Alexander viewed his murky surroundings, and the event as a whole, provided a pleasant distraction from the monotonous nature of the preceding battles.    

Overall, Stone's lifelong obsession was a flawed display of gentle probes and tidbits, which would never suffice or immerse an audience in a story of a magnitude such as this. Alexander will go down as yet another wretched production in the doleful genre of epics. - Abhishek Dey

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