Joined: 06 Jul 2004
Location: Skopje, Republic of Macedonia
|Posted: Fri Jan 07, 2005 3:36 pm Post subject: The Thimes (London) - Alexander
|THERE was a point, somewhere around the middle of the second hour of Oliver Stone’s Alexander, where I started to feel profoundly sorry for the people who had put so much effort into this film.
The sad thing is that many of those involved probably believed that they were aspiring to greatness; making a blockbuster with depth, an epic that would appeal to a more cerebral audience along with the multiplex crowd.
It’s never fun to watch dreams ground to mud beneath the heels of an army of Macedonian warriors in leather miniskirts. And it’s particularly unpleasant to have to criticise a film for its intellectual ambitions rather than the lack of them. Of course, as the film hauls itself into its third hour, all sympathy evaporates in favour of the urge to slap the cast and crew.
By trying to appeal to a more learned audience as well as the usual teen thrill-seekers, Stone alienates them both. Instead of opening with a taster of excitement, he kicks off with a turgid monologue from Anthony Hopkins as Ptolemy, delivering a deconstruction of recent Alexandrian history to a group of earnest young students. It’s a curious piece of pacing which will leave many audience members bored before the film has had a chance to gather momentum.
Not that the film does succeed in picking up much speed. The action sequences — where you would expect a muscular film-maker like Stone to excel — are cluttered and unclear. They could have done with some of the brutal efficiency Stone brought to the American football games in Any Given Sunday.
In between the battle scenes, the film falls back on rather a lot of declamatory and unconvincing dialogue. Even if the performances in the film had been up to scratch, I suspect the actors would have had a tough time injecting any life into this creaky script, with its join-the-dots approach to a Freudian subtext. Unfortunately, the performances sit awkwardly in these underdeveloped roles.
The most problematic is Colin Farrell attempting to fill the sandals of the Macedonian warrior king. Farrell is a promising leading actor, but he does not have the gravitas to carry off a role like this.
Angelina Jolie, as Alexander’s mother, spends the film draped in snakes and speaking in what sounds like a Transylvanian accent. And poor Jared Leto, as Alexander’s “special friend” Hephaistion, gets one of the film’s biggest unintended laughs during a protracted deathbed scene that wouldn’t look out of place in a Monty Python sketch.
Ultimately, one of the main things you can say in defence of the film is that you sympathise with the Macedonian troops who accompanied Alexander on his odyssey into Asia. Dragged on a seemingly endless and increasingly directionless journey powered by one man’s hubris, all you can think about is going home and forgetting all about it.
by wendy ide