Why are we here? Will I ever be able to regain the time I’ve wasted? What does the future hold for those of us suffering now? I found myself asking these questions this past weekend, but it wasn’t my usual navel gazing which sparked these inquire. It was Oliver Stone’s “Alexander.”
If you’ve been reading the reviews, most critics have been describing the film as “Alexander not so Great” or other clever phrases playing off the historical figure’s title.
The consensus is the movie is not very good, but don’t listen to them. It’s even worse. We should all know the story of Alexander the Great from junior high history classes. He was the king who united Greece, conquered the Middle East and made his way into India before he died at age 32. This is also the plot of the film, with Oedipal issues, questions of what it takes to be a good ruler, and the problems of uniting under conquest versus leaving nations divided are thrown into the story, but the whole mess is so poorly executed that it isn’t worth my time or yours trying to explain it in more detail than this. Basically, Stone’s “Alexander” is boring, incoherent nonsense which fails on every level.
The director even makes Greek soldiers fighting against elephants tedious – sometimes funny for the wrong reason – but not entertaining, like it should be, or profound, which is what he was attempting.
The buzz surrounding the film is true, as Colin Farrell plays his role as a man who prefers the company of other men, but this is just as pointless as everything else within the narrative.
Alexander’s homosexuality is just like Farrell’s bleached blond hair and costuming – purely ornamental. And, even though Stone probably wanted to show his character as one who unites sexes and nations, its inclusion within the film does little except foster an open hostility toward women and provide juvenile ribbing at their expense.
For example, the only two “sex” scenes in the film are attempted rapes and Farrell, discussing the palace of a fleeing king, declares, “No wonder he left, he had this to come back to.”
“This” being wives and concubines, and of course Alexander would have contempt for women, Stone suggests, because he’s gay. I would imagine that a film dealing with issues of homosexuality and a despot from the West setting out to “liberate” persons in the Middle East from themselves would be topical considering current events, but the film is so mind-numbing and confused that interest in discerning any relevant political content will be eclipsed by a strong desire to leave the theater.
There was a time when Oliver Stone made good films, many of which were entertaining and most had a message. But a movie like “Alexander” has neither and only serves as a reminder of how talent can spoil over time and how disappointing trips to the theater will be this season.
I will say the best line in the film is presented during the elephant fighting sequence, when the narrator, who is completely useless, which is precisely the reason that I didn’t mention him earlier, declares that Alexander’s invasion of India was “the end of reason.”
All reason ended two and a half hours before the line was spoken, when I bought my ticket.
Battenhousen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.