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The UnPopular Opinion: Alexander

08.26.2015

THE UNPOPULAR OPINION is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATHED. We're hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Enjoy!

****SOME SPOILERS ENSUE****

At the beginning of the 2000s, there was a fad in Hollywood to make massive historical epics like they used to in the golden age of Hollywood. Prompted by Ridley Scott's GLADIATOR, Hollywood gave us epic after epic. These movies were met with varying levels of acclaim but the fad soon fizzled out in favor of the next big genre to exploit. Amongst the epics, there were few movies as divisive as Oliver Stone's ALEXANDER. Stone himself has gone back no less than three additional times to edit his epic about the life of Alexander The Great with significant changes made to each version. Eschewing any of the later director's cuts, I want to assert that the original cut of ALEXANDER is one of the better historical epics of all time.

Made on a $155 million budget, ALEXANDER would go on to gross $34 million domestically. While that sounds like a massive failure, the film would gross $133 million internationally. The dramatic difference between the two grosses is not uncommon with many films these days, but it also mimics the critical reception of the movie. While U.S. critics lambasted Stone's film, the international film community was much more positive. Stone himself asserts that it had to do with the intelligence of American movie critics as well as the inability to accept homoerotic undertones included in the story. The often controversial filmmaker may not have been entirely right about either assertion, but he was also not wrong. There are some quibbles to be had with how ALEXANDER was executed, but overall it is a great film.

Much like what happened with Ridley Scott's KINGDOM OF HEAVEN, the critical focus on the film was put heavily on the inclusions and exclusions from the actual history books about the featured characters. Even condensing the massive scope of Alexander's life into a three hour film represented a challenge. To make his film, Stone used time compression and flashbacks to better tell the story he wanted. This, of course, means that there will have to be some elements excised from the narrative. ALEXANDER was never intended to be an all-encompassing biography of the military icon but instead an overview of his life, his achievements, and his failures.

From an acting standpoint, ALEXANDER boasts a very impressive cast. Colin Farrell, just at the outset of his leading man career, brings a layered approach to portraying the title character whose sexualized relationships with both his mother, Olympias, and his friend Hephaistion. Criticism of Alexander's sexuality caused protests before the film's release, but Stone handles the subject with something he is rarely credited with: subtlety. Yes, Angelina Jolie is a very sexual actress, especially a decade ago, and Jared Leto remains as popular a sex object now as he did then. Hell, even Val Kilmer looks pretty damn good in this movie. The real prize goes to Rosario Dawson whose sexual aura is more powerful here than in almost any other film she has been in.

The shortcoming many have associated with ALEXANDER is that the trailers make it look like GLADIATOR whereas the format and tone of the finished film is much different. With a consistent voice-over from Anthony Hopkins as Ptolemy, ALEXANDER is very similar to the historical re-enactment documentaries that have become common on networks like History and National Geographic Channel. It is a bit off-putting at first but soon begins to grow on you and gives ALEXANDER a unique feel compared to similar films. The constant time shifts in the film also appear to be a point of contention for many, but again, the compression of the sprawling life and career is a necessary evil or the movie would have been five times as long. Stone could have elected to focus on just a segment of Alexander's life, but would that really have been a movie worth seeing?

From an editing standpoint, ALEXANDER is one of the best directing jobs Stone has turned in over the last twenty years. Gone are the overlaid images and projections that were featured in NATURAL BORN KILLERS and JFK. Stone embraces the genre while still putting his own stamp on it, giving us something simultaneously familiar and unique. The score by Vangelis is an unheralded classic while cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto gives the film a clean look that captures every beautiful aspect of the global shooting locations in Morocco and Thailand.

Oliver Stone is a filmmaker whose career has had massive ups and downs. From his heydey in the 1980s and early 1990s, his career has become exceptionally uneven with films that vary from excellent to mediocre at best. Still, his work is unique enough to have earned him a permanent place in movie history. With that caveat, ALEXANDER deserves to be remembered with the upper echelon of his films and his best in the last 20 years.

Oh, and if you have any suggestions for The UnPopular Opinion I’m always happy to hear them. You can send along an email to alexmaidy@joblo.com, spell it out below, slap it up on my wall in Movie Fan Central, or send me a private message via Movie Fan Central. Provide me with as many movie suggestions as you like, with any reasoning you'd care to share, and if I agree then you may one day see it featured in this very column!

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Source: JoBlo.com

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8:40AM on 09/01/2015

One Of The VERY BEST FILMS Of The 21st Century

Thank you for this article! I have always thought this film was brilliant and the screenplay was very deep and engaging. The only version that I didn't care for was the "Director's Cut" which according to Stone is NOT a director's cut at all. The best versions to watch are the "Final Cut" (released in 2007) and the "Ultimate Cut" (released in June 2014). If you have seen the original theatrical cut or the "director's cut" and didn't like them give the film another chance with one of these two.
Thank you for this article! I have always thought this film was brilliant and the screenplay was very deep and engaging. The only version that I didn't care for was the "Director's Cut" which according to Stone is NOT a director's cut at all. The best versions to watch are the "Final Cut" (released in 2007) and the "Ultimate Cut" (released in June 2014). If you have seen the original theatrical cut or the "director's cut" and didn't like them give the film another chance with one of these two. You won't be disappointed.
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10:16AM on 08/27/2015
I didn't love this movie, but I also didn't hate it as much as I thought I would. What I didn't really like was Colin Ferrell as Alexander, i felt his Irish accent really was insurmountable and at times a reminder that it was an actor rather than being immersed in the character. Overall, Ferrell is a good actor and emoted extremely well. For me I was absolutely SMITTEN with Rosario Dawson. Her Roxane was gorgeous and amazing and acted pitch perfect. I thought I would hate the film for the
I didn't love this movie, but I also didn't hate it as much as I thought I would. What I didn't really like was Colin Ferrell as Alexander, i felt his Irish accent really was insurmountable and at times a reminder that it was an actor rather than being immersed in the character. Overall, Ferrell is a good actor and emoted extremely well. For me I was absolutely SMITTEN with Rosario Dawson. Her Roxane was gorgeous and amazing and acted pitch perfect. I thought I would hate the film for the homoerotic stuff. But surprisingly, it was the relationship with Alexander and Roxane as reflected in his attachment to Hephaiston actually had some subtle nuance to it. Oliver Stone seemed to frame that right. While far from a great film, I'll give it 5.5/10.
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-2
9:56AM on 08/27/2015

0/10.

If you're interested, here's my comment on it (it's right at the beginning): [link]
If you're interested, here's my comment on it (it's right at the beginning): [link]
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9:09AM on 08/27/2015
Meh. Needed to be gayer. "Homoerotic undertones" don't quite cut it for a movie about Alexander the Great.
Meh. Needed to be gayer. "Homoerotic undertones" don't quite cut it for a movie about Alexander the Great.
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8:18AM on 08/27/2015
Read a few books about Alexander the Great, so obviously I was so excited when this came out back in the day. Ultimately, I was quite disappointed and this movie didn't do any novel justice.
Read a few books about Alexander the Great, so obviously I was so excited when this came out back in the day. Ultimately, I was quite disappointed and this movie didn't do any novel justice.
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+0
7:02AM on 08/27/2015
Talk it up all you like, but this was terrible!!
Talk it up all you like, but this was terrible!!
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5:46AM on 08/27/2015
Didn`t like it apart from the big battle in the middle.For some reason brought the final cut version (214min) on dvd and it was vastly better movie.Scenes have been re jigged around.The big battle scene is near the start now and the whole movie just flows a lot better.Like kingdom of heaven and troy i`d go for the extended versions then the ones released
Didn`t like it apart from the big battle in the middle.For some reason brought the final cut version (214min) on dvd and it was vastly better movie.Scenes have been re jigged around.The big battle scene is near the start now and the whole movie just flows a lot better.Like kingdom of heaven and troy i`d go for the extended versions then the ones released
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12:33AM on 08/27/2015
Also do Hercules: The Thracian Wars
Also do Hercules: The Thracian Wars
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12:05AM on 08/27/2015
I remember being pumped for this movie. When the reviews were SO bad, I couldn't bring myself to go see it. I don't like to be disappointed at the movie theater, and for years you couldn't bring up the movie without someone talking about how awful it was. But every now and then I remember, and I think I ought to check it out.
I remember being pumped for this movie. When the reviews were SO bad, I couldn't bring myself to go see it. I don't like to be disappointed at the movie theater, and for years you couldn't bring up the movie without someone talking about how awful it was. But every now and then I remember, and I think I ought to check it out.
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11:27PM on 08/26/2015
I rented the theatrical version when it first came out, and didn't like it but didn't hate it either. I know there's been 2 or 3 extended/director's cuts of this film released. I'd be curious to know which of these is considered the "best" version of this film, since I've been meaning to give it another chance.
I rented the theatrical version when it first came out, and didn't like it but didn't hate it either. I know there's been 2 or 3 extended/director's cuts of this film released. I'd be curious to know which of these is considered the "best" version of this film, since I've been meaning to give it another chance.
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11:22PM on 08/26/2015

100% agree

when the movie came out there was sooo much controversy over homosexual scenes etc. that today would be accepted. For some reason those "taboo" reasons sank this movie. Yes it had some pacing issues and angelinas accent is pffffffffff (thumbs down) but overall its a solid historical epic.
when the movie came out there was sooo much controversy over homosexual scenes etc. that today would be accepted. For some reason those "taboo" reasons sank this movie. Yes it had some pacing issues and angelinas accent is pffffffffff (thumbs down) but overall its a solid historical epic.
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