Fortune normally favours the bold, maybe, but not here. Co-writer/director Oliver Stone’s 2004 classical adventure epic is certainly brave and ambitious but it is also turgid and laughable.
An absurdly miscast Colin Farrell is too puny, too Irish and too modern to play the mighty Alexander the Great (356-323 BC), world-conquering warrior-king of ancient Macedonia. And he looks really daft in his blonde rinse and skinny legs as he leads his army across the map to India, killing all in his way.
In a film with no good performances, even Angelina Jolie as his mom Olympias, Jared Leto as his boyfriend Hephaistion and Anthony Hopkins as the old duffer Ptolemy and film’s narrator go down in flames.
How could this story be so muddled and boring? The dialogue’s naff, Vangelis’s score is hysterical and even the battles aren’t thrilling. The more Stone does to try to liven it up the sillier it all gets.
Where is Brad Pitt when we need him? Come back Troy: all is forgiven.
The scene where Farrell is banging on about his ambitions, looking out of the window, while his screen boyfriend Leto is expiring unnoticed on the bed behind him produced gales of derisive laughter at the London press show.
This $150 million turkey, which took only $25 million at the US box office, was a critical and box-office disaster. With such poor acting and uncertain storytelling, it’s one of the worst historical epics in living memory, ranking alongside Paul Newman’s The Silver Chalice (1953) for badness.
It picked up interest and started to recoup its losses on DVD, prompting the studio to offer Stone cash to produce different versions, which all did quite well financially. There are now four versions, the 175 minutes cinema release, the 167 minutes Director’s Cut, the 214 minutes Final Cut and the 206 minutes Ultimate Cut.
Stone’s dogged refusal to let go is admirable, but offering more of Alexander has just succeeded in making it worse, especially with more of Jolie’s misjudged, hysterical performance and more of Val Kilmer’s dreadful performance as Philip of Macedonia.
© Derek Winnert 2014 Bad Movie 3
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