November 23, 2004

Farrell's Alexander is only as great as his dye job in Stone's pricey bore

"Fortune favors the bold"—except for the people who waste time on this movie. This quote is often repeated in the awful Oliver Stone-produced epic Alexander. It was dreadful from start to finish. I still don't understand how a moderately talented cast—Angelina Jolie, Anthony Hopkins, Colin Farrell, Jared Leto, and many more—could create such an excruciatingly painful experience. I wish I could get back the three hours of my life that I wasted on this movie.

It all starts with Anthony Hopkins delivering a long, drawn-out monologue. That scene only plunges deeper into a walk-out-of-the-theater type of bad movie. We delve into Alexander (Colin Farrell)'s childhood and learn that his mother, Olympias (Angelina Jolie), wants him to be king, despite the fact that his father, King Philip (Val Kilmer) has other plans. Since "fortune favors the bold," King Philip is assassinated and Alexander becomes king.

Soon after this, Alexander gets a really bad dye job, a mullet, and an army to conquer a large portion of Asia. Through the battle scenes, we learn he is having a behind-the-scenes love affair with Hephaistion (Jared Leto), but ends up marrying an Asian woman, Roxane (Rosario Dawson). He won't give up the dream of conquering all of Asia and forces his army to endure long travels and hard battles. His army soon turns against him, and he is forced to turn around and go home, where he either a) gets sick, b) dies, or c) is assassinated, whatever you want to believe.

It wasn't that the script was awful. It was the painstaking delivery of the lines—especially during the "love" scenes between Alexander and Hephaistion—that made it really hard to watch. The music was synthesized and illsuited for the movie. The cinematography left me cold. Shots of an eagle were often spliced into the film with no reference whatsoever. Of course, the over-intellectual crowd of the U of C would know its meaning, but the shots were awkward and unexplained. The buzzed-about battle scenes couldn't even make up for the gi-normous amount of time that I wasted. The cinematographer, Rodrigo Pietro, needs to take a lesson from John Mathieson, who filmed Gladiator. Shaky camera does not equal a cool battle scene—it just equals shaky camera.

The only scene that left me feeling some emotion was the sex scene involving Alexander and Roxane on their wedding night. Roxane accuses Alexander of loving another man, and, in response, Alexander forces her into the bedroom and rips off her clothes while she's kicking and screaming. She continues to fight him, grabs his knife, and holds it to his throat. Roxane then has a change of heart, and they make passionate love. The lack of character development ruined this scene, since I honestly didn't care if Alexander died. If I did care about Alexander, this scene would have been a good, intense, and passionate sex scene. But it wasn't.

During the screening, many people left the theater early. Toward the end, all of us were laughing at the movie during inappropriate times. By the time the credits were about to roll, we stampeded for the door like there was a fire in the theater. I would compare this film to Ronald F. Maxwell's waste of a film, Gods and Generals. Although Alexander isn't as long as that 231-minute snooze-fest, it is just as boring. My date claimed that even Troy was better than this film. If you want to watch a really great period movie, stick to Gladiator. It's thousands and thousands of times better.