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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast
Colin Farrell
Angelina Jolie
Rosario Dawson
Val Kilmer
Anthony Hopkins
Jared Leto.
Directors
Oliver Stone.
Screenwriters
Christopher Kyle
Oliver Stone
Laeta Kalogridis.
Running Time
175 minutes

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Alexander
Big Al moves into aquisitions to keep his Mum happy in Oliver Stone's bloody epic.


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Plot
The life, times and world domination of King Alexander (Farrell), who, driven by his pushy mother (Jolie), the legacy of his murdered father (Kilmer) and the glorious myths of his ancestors, conquers half of Asia, unites cultures and gets laid a lot.


Review
When Oliver Stone announces he's making another film, it's not so much a case of taking notice as taking cover. His is not the cinema of clinking teacups and subtle interplay; this is cinema as blitzkrieg: elemental, outrageous and barely tamed. And when Oliver Stone announces he's making a film of the life of Alexander The Great, the Macedonian king who trampled over half the known world, by Zeus, you'd better be prepared. Alexander looks and sounds glorious, depicting a far-off world spread with intricate detail and expansively scored by the aural grandeur of Vangelis. The battle scenes extraordinarily reconstruct the horror of war in a time when seeing the whites of your enemy's eyes was a tactical necessity. If Troy was tame and bloodless, Alexander is wild and drenched in carnal violence.

It takes three tours of duty in Vietnam to understand such visceral madness, and Stone takes his camera tight into Alexander's demented eyeballs before pulling back and letting the blood spill. In what must be the most monumental scene of any career, described in arch slow-motion from about 62 camera angles, Alexander on his faithful steed rears up before a similarly rearing armoured elephant. It's a tremendous surge of purest spectacle; the film never feels so alive as when it's immersed in death.

And yet! And yet! This is no Spartacus, or even a Braveheart. Stone's determination to bang home big themes, crackling with Freudianism, unsettles his storytelling. There's something overbearing, almost bullying, about this abbreviated tour through a decade-long campaign, pinpointing loud, emotional moments rather than dramatically satisfying ones.

The first hour is spent prying on the younger Alexander's fractious relations with his demented parents, the psychological fuel to his all-conquering mania. With hints of incest or worse, Jolie joyously chews it all up and spits it out with sexy vigour - it appears her son may have swallowed up nations just to shut his mother up.

Just as in JFK or Nixon, Stone once again ponders the blurring of history and myth. The story is weaved in flashback by Hopkins' elderly Ptolemy, who judges the frailties of the real man before carefully omitting such details from the record. These, though, are truths still hotly disputed, so the script keeps fretfully explaining itself. Alexander's bisexuality, for example, is dealt with maturely, but repeatedly.

It's convienient to note the parallels between the director's over-ambition and that of his subject, but the comparison fits. Stone pushes too far just as Alexander did, aiming to give us a leader of contradictions: tyrant and diplomat, lover and killer, god and man. Poor Colin Farrell is presented with having to turn a marble icon into a fleshy sprawl of personal issues. You can feel him strain every sinew to get it right, but with his blond locks out of whack with his heavy stubble and his Dublin accent awkwardly unchanged, he is too earthy, that one-of-the-boys persona unshakeable. Where is that spark of glory that drove men 10,000 miles from home? Where is the colossus? Yes, this is a movie of spectacularly brutal battle scenes and intense attention to detail, but, as wowed as you are, you come away never truly tasting the immensity of Alexander.


Verdict
Unwieldy and flawed, but Stone remains a tornado in an era of airless formula and - to paraphrase our Ptolemy - its failings are greater than most films' successes.


Reviewed by Ian Nathan


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Average user rating for Alexander
Empire Star Rating

Alexander Review

Even at nearly three hours long, this ponderous, talky, and emotionally distant biopic fails to illuminate Alexander's life. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by the film man at 21:21, 07 March 2012 | Report This Post


YAAAWWWWWWWNNN !

Its like one long BORING history lesson ! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by elimonator at 02:14, 19 May 2010 | Report This Post


alexander

Why the hell, do the persians in the first battle go "HOO-HAH! HOO-HAH!"? ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Saam3003 at 12:38, 14 April 2010 | Report This Post


ONE OF THE WORST MOVIES OF ALL TIME.

It is a film about Alexander the Great and yet in the entire film there is honestly not one single decent battle scene worth talking about. Its not even a nice film to look at either. Considering where the film is set it is not as breathtaking as it should be. And it should be epic but it is most definitely not. Really pathetic attempt compared to a Kingdom Of Heaven or a Braveheart or a Hidalgo. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheRiderSoMysterious at 15:14, 05 October 2008 | Report This Post


Stunning And Beautiful To Look At.

Alexander is a very good effort from the legend of Oliver Stone, he can bring you stunning shots and beautiful landscapes to look at. Yes, there is some flaws in the movie but I don't care, it's a good movie and people shouldn't be so nasty about it. Colin Farrell did a good job as Alexander, his charm and power controled the screen alongside Jared Leto with his beautiful blue eyes. Val Kilmer is quite disturbing as Alexander's dad and so was Angelina Jolie, boy she scares me! In all, a deep and... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by joanna likes films at 09:25, 10 April 2008 | Report This Post


Sorry Ollie, Nothing Can Save This!!!

I only saw about 40 minutes of it, and those 40 minutes were so terriable, i wanted to gouge my (and everyone elses in the room's) eyes out. This is the lemon in Stones basket!! Crap! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by cdjwfan at 23:26, 18 January 2008 | Report This Post


An ambitious, over the top project that ultimately fails to live up to its hype and, incredibly, lacks the sort of excitement and spectacle intrinsically linked to its subject matter. While some scenes bristle with the intensity expected in an Oliver Stone film, the great majority of the time is spent dealing with Alexander's barmy parents, bizarre entourage and various, tiresome neuroses. What should have been Stone's greatest masterpiece is instead a rambling and, unforgivably, boring ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Eomer_King at 11:55, 12 August 2007 | Report This Post


Boring and slow

This was just crap, acting was crap, action, what action. Its mostly just talking and the story's ok. That's mainly the only reason and mabe the characters were alright why i gave this a two star. My personal opinion was that it was gonna be bloody and adventurous, whereas this just slack's on creating a slow and dismull effort. Stone, who is one of the best directors around these days has gone off and crafted a film of no potential nad he haasn't put enough effort in. The Final Cut, whic is ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Big Alex at 11:41, 06 August 2007 | Report This Post


Since when was Alexander gay??????????????????????????????????????????? ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by minotaur3004 at 23:45, 07 May 2007 | Report This Post


CRAP CRAP CRAP, what is wrong with the director, hes supposed to be good so why did he make asuch a crap movie! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by minotaur3004 at 16:13, 19 April 2007 | Report This Post


TERRIBLE, TRAGIC AND UNACCURATE ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by minotaur3004 at 16:12, 19 April 2007 | Report This Post


SUCKS

I wanted to enjoy this movie but it was the worst war movie i have ever seen. In the first battle there was dust and sand everywhere and i could'nt see a thing and in the second battle the camera was moving rapidly and all over the place and i could'nt see a thing and the elephants were too fast. TERRIBLE EFFECTS!!! Another bad thing about this movie was that it made Alexander look like a total loser. This film could have been so much better. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by minotaur3004 at 16:09, 19 April 2007 | Report This Post


Quite good

If you think that this movie is boring you clearly have no taste. It was very accurate historacly, and with good performances too. I agree that it could have less sexual meaning, but the whole plot was well structered and developed. I liked it. But it desplised me in battle material. All the battles were messy. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by CitizenKane at 00:04, 07 July 2006 | Report This Post


expert

Superb.Why can't anyone see it has so much meaning and differing emotions.Farrel plays a tireless,dreaming,yet temperamental warrior king leading an army of normal humans to the end of the known world in three hours.Jolie is his scheming mother beautifully acted in an annoying way.The battle scenes as Alexander sweeps across Asia are visceral and authenticly shot.Stone makes sure his Alexander isn't perfect by interweving personal disaters all the way through Alexanders' life such as when he is ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by mrcritic123 at 18:28, 04 July 2006 | Report This Post


expert

Superb.Why can't anyone see it has so much meaning and differing emotions.Farrel plays a tireless,dreaming,yet temperamental warrior king leading an army of normal humans to the end of the known world in three hours.Jolie is his scheming mother beautifully acted in an annoying way.The battle scenes as Alexander sweeps across Asia are visceral and authenticly shot.Stone makes sure his Alexander isn't perfect by interweving personal disaters all the way through Alexanders' life such as when he is ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by mrcritic123 at 18:28, 04 July 2006 | Report This Post


Alexander

Crap, crap , crap way out of context such a cool idea for a a film but done is o such a terrible fashion. Wrong casting, crappy action and a sloppy script. Take a look at gladiator if you want to see a cool ancient period flick this one blows big time! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by spideyfan666 at 04:37, 06 June 2006 | Report This Post


oh dear

an average film could have had better lead role instead of colin farrel. And what was that dyed hair job about awful! Angelina jolie sounded like she was from an egyptian resort. An average film which had all the wrong cast for all the wrong reasons. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by alexisreaver2132 at 14:17, 17 May 2006 | Report This Post


Never again.

Got this from my online DVD club, which means I only watched it on my widescreen telly (still 28" though) and it was the director's cut. Whether I would have enjoyed the ordeal any more at the cinema I don't know. I switched it off after 45 minutes, I couldn't even get myself interested in a massive battle scene. It looked beautiful and had a great cast but bored the crap out of me. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by VincentHanna at 00:40, 05 May 2006 | Report This Post


Giving it the benefit of the doubt I'd say bewteen 2 and 3 stars, but this is solely due to the visuals - it was just plain gorgeous. And then it was devoid of character development, the whole thing lacked a sturdy structure, and some of it came dangerously close to being - or was - just cliched. Take the elephant and the horse confronting each other in the battle in the Indian forest. What the hell was that all about. And the soundtrack too. Vangelis produced some pretty good pieces of music f... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Ezra at 12:33, 28 April 2006 | Report This Post


Meh

Just scrapes in three stars thanks to some spectacular battles, but it's a bit of a muddle and never really connects. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Caster at 20:01, 07 April 2006 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

 excellent costumes and an excellent vision. however i don't think it was the Stone's eye for political satire or his vulgar fast paced cinematography for the fight scenes, or even Farrells irish accent that made this film terrible. It was just overly long and dull because of uninteresting dialogue. I thought Farrell was good (apart from irish accent), i honestly thought Kilmer  was excellent despite some minor criticism. But Jolie is really,really,reallly bad dyerly awful one of... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by doncopey1 at 19:43, 24 February 2006 | Report This Post


RE:

tahoma"]Stone is a too literal director. I agree with the article, the movie is just one big disaster area. Anybody who could make such a mess of Tarantino's wonderful (and now disowned) script for natural Born Killers and who could make that historical debacle JFK, should not be allowed anywhere near a camera. You can't blame Farrell, although any actor worth his salt should've bowed out as soon as Stone is involved, so he should have known better. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by MovieMisnomers at 12:41, 24 February 2006 | Report This Post


I agree with doctor's review. This film is just horrible. I give it two stars instead of one because of the cinematography. It is lovely to look at but that's the whole film... the story is only of surface value and fairly hollow throughout. I find the acting hard to believe. Not once do I feel I am watching the actual character. It's acting and when you know you are watching acting, then it is poorly done. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by lulu karma at 01:41, 24 February 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Alexander

Lame. We can't engage with the politics of a world long gone for one thing, and Colin Farrel is more cry baby than son of Zeus. Add some hammy acting, odd accents and a look too erotic. I am interested in Alexander the Great but this film offers no insight. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by doctorolorinbats1975 at 19:04, 23 February 2006 | Report This Post


good ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by yellow-bastard at 15:07, 23 February 2006 | Report This Post


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