It’s been three days since I watched Alexander: The Director’s Cut. I wrote an initial review, but it was as confusing as the director’s vision of this epic tale. So I have spent parts of the last three days sorting out what I liked, what I disliked, and why I was feeling so overwhelmed by the experience.
I realized that there were several things I did like, a lot of things that detracted me, and a parallel between director Oliver Stone and the title character. Before I even sat down to watch Alexander (for the first time ever), I had to make a conscious effort to clear my mind of all negative references I had heard about Alexander. I had not heard or read anything specific on what was supposed to be bad, but like a juror on the panel of an infamous trial, I tried very hard to be impartial.
As the movie started, I loved the vibrant colors and the score was subtle and pleasing. “Okay,” I thought. “Maybe this won’t be so bad.”
Then Sir Anthony Hopkins begins the narration, and I slipped into a state of suspension of disbelief. Unfortunately, it did not last long after I heard accents that certainly did not sound Greek to me. In fact, it was as obvious as a southern accent in downtown Manhattan. My exact thought was, “Angelina is a beautiful vixen, but where the hell is her character supposed to be from?”
It was just as bad when Irish bad boy Colin Farrell let his native dialect slip through. Maybe it was just me, but it certainly distracted me from keeping track of the story.
That was another problem I had. It was difficult to keep pace with the story. To make it worse, Stone kept jumping back and forth in a random pattern. It would not have been so bad if the jumps had clarified or enhanced the story, but instead of being a movie footnote, they just created a sense of disorganization.
A cool thing was the history presented in Alexander, but it was tarnished in the delivery. What I was able to follow and recognize was great. The problem is that in the two and a half plus hours, a lot of interesting stuff became buried like a lost civilization.
Here is where I realized the parallel between Stone and Alexander. The director obviously did the type of research reserved for a Senior Thesis, but the problem is that he did not know how to crop out the best story. Alexander had a grand vision of expanding his empire to the edges of the unexplored world, but he did not know when to stop and allow himself to appreciate what he had.
Overall, I think that Alexander falls short as a commercial project. There was some good scene and character work, some interesting director choices, and there were hints of stories unexplored or undeveloped. That is why I will go back and watch the movie a few chapters at a time.
If you are a student of film or just like to watch scene work, then I recommend buying this DVD. For those who just want to see Angelina Jolie with snakes or those who want to see Farrell’s naked form, I recommend renting it at least once. The extra features make price of the DVD or the cost of renting Alexander: The Director’s Cut worthwhile. For everybody else, you will probably want to catch it on cable.