Monday, December 30, 2013

Alexander, Revisited: The Final Cut review

Who better to play a Macedonian Greek than Irishman Colin Farrell? Am I right?
I really like most of Oliver Stone's movies. Some of my favorites include JFK, Born on the Fourth of July, and Platoon. I also really like some of his other stuff like Talk Radio and Natural Born Killers. I would call him one of my favorite directors, that is until I saw his most recent film, Savages. I have a lot of problems with Savages (particularly the ending), but I won't talk about that now. I wanted to believe that Savages was just one bad apple in a great bunch of films. But I had heard that one of Oliver Stone's worst movies was Alexander. Yet, I had also heard that his Final Cut version was a vast improvement on the original. So I figured why waste my time with the original. So I got up a copy of Alexander, Revisited: The Final Cut, and then watched it. While I don't think this film is as bad as some of the reviews said, I certainly have some issues with it. The movie covers pretty much the entire life of Alexander the Great, focusing particularly on his famous conquest of Asia. From watching this, I can tell Oliver Stone is really interested in Alexander the Great. More interested then the audience probably is. Because of this, Alexander packs a boat load of information into three and a half hours. You read me right, three and a half hours. Some movies like The Lord of the Rings films or The Wolf of Wall Street are able to keep me engaged and entertained for about three hours. While Alexander has it's engaging and entertaining moments, especially the battle scenes, in no way did it keep my attention for the entire 214 minutes. I give credit to Oliver Stone for pursuing his vision and making Alexander the way he wanted to. This film is ambitious as hell, and quite obviously took some serious effort and money to make. I want to love it, I really do, but I just can't for a number of reasons. The whole movie could use a lot of trimming. There's about 20 minutes at the end of Anthony Hopkins talking that is completely unnecessary and there's more than a handful of scenes that could easily be taken out without hurting the film. What Mr. Stone could have at least done is put the film into two separate parts, or cut it up into an HBO miniseries or something. The film is just too long for one sitting. It's manageable but not exactly desirable. It's just incredibly long, and it doesn't need to be. Another thing that bothered me was Angelina Jolie. This probably isn't Oliver Stone's fault, but her accent here is just awful. I don't know what she was going for, but her accent sounds weirdly Russian. I don't know why a Greek would have a Russian accent. I understand Angelina is a pretty good actress, but here performance here is just plain bad. Colin Farrell is alright as the title character, but he's nothing special. Which is a shame because Colin Farrell can really act when he wants to, go watch In Bruges and you'll see what I mean. The rest of the cast is just alright. They play their parts but no one blew me away. I honestly can't recommend Alexander, unless you're a history teacher who's really into Alexander the Great. The film is impressive in it's scale and ambition, but in the end it falters. There was one battle scene towards the end in which Alexander fights in India. About halfway through the fight, Stone makes the screen go red. That was interesting and cool in how it reflected what was happening. There were some moments like that that made me really appreciate what Oliver Stone is doing here. The movie has some nice sweeping landscape shots and some impressive battle sequences but I was fairly disappointed. It's not Stone's worst film, but it is very far from his best. If you do plan on watching this, I recommend doing it in two parts. It'll give you time to breathe and I expect you'll enjoy it more. I can't say I got that experience. Alexander isn't a good movie, and it's kind of sad that this is coming from the guy behind such greats as Scarface and Platoon. Hey, at least it's not as bad as Savages. 
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