Alexander: the Final Cut (2004)

Rated 15
Spoiler Free

My IMDb rating from God knows when is a pretty pathetic 4/10 for Alexander, a film I remember being very excited about when it came out. In theory I should love everything about it: The cast, director, subject matter etc. are all things that should have me rigid for its entire runtime. I didn’t like it, I remember that and almost nothing else.

Despite this, I plumped to return for the Director's cut of Alexander because I thought well, you know, that Oliver Stone, he might actually know what he's doing. A more than feature-length film turned into a torturous, Andy Warhol level of sadism, experience once Stone had got hold of the edit. I nonetheless hoped it’d add the right bits in the right places and elevate it like Ridders did with his cut of Kingdom of Heaven.

Perhaps that's what happened with my first watch of Alexander. Perhaps I had too high expectations, as I did my first watch of Ridley Scott’s crusades epic. Maybe the final cut will make Alexander an exceptional film rather than a 4/10.

At its high point Alexander looks epic, feels epic and It certainly runs epic time wise. Impressively expansive and well shot with plenty of eye catching moments, there is no question this is a technically gifted piece pf cinema. I know Alexander is almost 20 years old but it feels older than that and perhaps that was deliberate. What is dead may never die. The first battle scene is exciting, and battle scenes is why I was there primarily; the story around them is there to accentuate the action, give it context and emotional resonance.

To an extent this is achieved but what sticks in my mind most are other elements of Alexander.

Colin Farrell's Irish accent as Alexander the Great is distracting, but are we expect everyone to have a non-regional English dialect when playing a historical character or in a film which is supposed to feel classic? Colin Farrell is Irish, after all. The problem is all the other accents are of their natural nature and with a giant ensemble cast it doesn’t gel, ending up a global cacophony of dialect. Is it racist to say this was a bad idea? No, Game of Thrones nailed it.

Colin Farrell gets a bit over emotional. Showy sadness and stress. It's a bit like what I remember of. Rob Carlyle as Hitler; somewhat overdone and perhaps they think it's humanising but actually what it did was make me think, come on guys this is a bit much. Incidentally, Alexander the Great also came on guys.

At the time the bisexual stuff was made quite a bit out of, though it's hardly Broke Back Mountain pounding. But yeah it's there. I don't get why there is or ever was any fuss over it. Pretty well documented Alexander enjoyed that bum fun. It's hardly explicit, sweaty, muscular Macedonian mano-e-mano pounding. On screen anyway. It doesn’t annoy me and it shouldn’t you. It’s also not a worrying dynamic, unlike…

There is a scene between Colin Farrell and Rosario Dawson I found uncomfortable in the choices of its filming rather than the subject matter. But nonetheless, I didn't really like what I was watching. I'm not sure if other people will feel the same. It was rapey, and rape happens sadly, but it was filmed in a titillating, creepy way- like the older Bond films.

The story in Stone’s cut jumps around, for better and for worse. In some places it adds dramatic tension in other places it is distracting. Perhaps that was always there? I can't remember and didn't have Bedsit Cinema then to go back and check. Either way it isn’t good. Alexander does little more than be a really long film, about a subject matter which can't help but be epic, that is acceptable entertainment if you have four hours. When there’s a battle it is fun but outside of the action this is a troubled film.

Down the stretch Alexander gets a bit more artistic, there's a wonderful pastiche of the blind leading the blind but even Oliver Stone can only do so much. How do I feel overall?

Bedsit it?

I think my four out of 10 was a bit harsh. Alexander isn't all bad. It's not great either, but I'd recommend it if this kind of thing sounds like it's for you. However, it is one hell of a commitment timewise. 6/10

I love a good epic. Check these reviews out!...


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