December 3 - 9, 2004 • Vol. 24 - No. 49

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Alexander—But, Was He Really Great?
by The Blonde and The Maven
Film Columnists

A year ago, there were five Alexander the Great biopics in the works. Director Oliver Stone (Platoon, JFK and Nixon) derailed the competition by coming out with his version first. The film consists of extravagant battle scenes, absorbing history lessons, dramatic costumes and boldly over-the-top acting.

Alexander begins in 323 B.C. as we find 32-year-old King Alexander, played by Colin Farrell (SWAT and Phone Booth), lying on his death bed. Then, ever so suddenly, the story jumps ahead 40 years as the empire he built is carved up and divided. The movie is eloquently narrated by Alexander's general Ptolemy, played by Anthony Hopkins (The Human Stain and Hannibal), who is now the Pharaoh of Egypt. Just as the story is beginning to make sense, the film flashes us back in time 60 years when Alexander was three years old. In this scene, we see his father Philip, King of Macedonia, played by Val Kilmer (The Doors and The Saint), raping his mother Olympias, Princess of Epirus, played by the dangerously gorgeous Angelina Jolie (Lara Croft, Tomb Raider and Beyond Borders). Before the viewers can get to steady, the story leaps ahead to King Alexander, who by this point in time has united the Greek nation and is getting ready to topple the Persian Empire. If the moviegoers have survived all the flashing about, they are then taken on Alexander's march to expand his Empire to India. Amidst the march, however, the film flashes back to Alexander’s early days, explaining how he came into his power as King. (We were so nauseous by this point!  It would have been less rocky to go on a Caribbean cruise!)  
Despite all the jumping and flashing, (this will make the men understand what menopause is all about), the story of Alexander DOES at last get told! Much is made of his conquering lands and incorporating their culture with the Greek culture. There was never any doubt as to King Alexander's ability as a military strategist or his open-mindedness as a tyrant. It was his sexuality that appeared murky, to say the very least! The taboo topic of Alexander's bisexuality is covered somewhat shyly without the macho contempt you might expect form a director such as Oliver Stone. Alexander’s ambiguous relationships with his “overbearing” mother Olympias and his “barbarian” bride Roxane, played by Rosario Dawson (The Rundown and Men in Black 2) are alluded to but never fully explored.

As is the case with many of Stone's films, this one has some rather strange elements and unexpected twists. You will have to decide for yourself how these elements come together for an intriguing history lesson.

The Blonde: Alexander was like Troy meets Hero meets King Arthur meets Caesar meets Cleopatra meets Napoleon. ‘Ya know how some three-hour movies seem to just fly by so quickly you hardly know where the time went? Well, this is NOT one of those movies. Alexander was a three-hour movie that could have been (and should have been) accomplished in two! Just when you think the film is about to sum it all up, they take you back to yet another flashback, bringing you once again to the beginning. It was like trying to say goodbye to your family after a visit. “Goodbye,” over and over and over…and over and over…

The Maven: I didn't mind the three hours, but I thought more could be made of it! Historically, Alexander was a believer in mysticism and used the oracles regularly, BUT, no mention of that in this story. Then Oliver Stone really undercuts any sense of what made thousands of Macedonians and Greeks follow Alexander “to the ends of the earth” for almost a decade. So much of the film was spent on alluding to his bi-sexuality, that I never quite got the point of the “GREAT” man's motive for his expansion to the east.

The Blonde: Maven, I have to ask you a question, seriously. Why did such manly men go around dressed like women? The long hair was great, but why did the Greek men run around in mini-skirts and the Persian men go about wearing more eye-makeup than any woman I know, (including me)? Even more of a question, how did they apply such a thick straight line without mirrors?

The Maven: What are you complaining about? You got too see all those sexy men's legs! As for the make-up, metrosexual's were around even then. Oh and by the way, Jared Leto, who played Hephaestion was absolutely gorgeous. He needs to be a Mabelline model.

The Blonde: The best part of the film for me was Sir Anthony Hopkins’ silky-rich, velvety voice, narrating. He gives any film true credibility. Furthermore, most of the story's spunk and kick was provided by Angelina Jolie, who was wearing just the perfect amount of eye-makeup. Here's an interesting observation. If Angelina Jolie had blonde hair, she would look exactly like my twin, body and all!

The Maven: Blonde, it’s way past a year since your last visit to the eye doctor. (I know ‘cause I drove you). Please DO call as soon as possible!

The Blonde: OUCH, OUCH, OUCH! I will ignore your rude comment and continue on. It was also quite comforting to find out that, even in the days of yore, her son, King Alexander, didn't listen to a thing his mother (Jolie) said. He ignored just about everything she taught him and told him to do. It made me feel better about my kids. The moral here is, kids NEVER listen or change, no matter what era they are born into.

The Maven: If Alexander listened to his mother, his life would have been a little easier. I too, thought Angelina was fascinating to watch in this film. This was her finest acting performance to date.

The Blonde:  Maven, I had an epiphany after the fifth yawn and two-and-a-half hours into this film. It seems to me (call me crazy) that if men spent less time running around raging unnecessary wars and killing ruthlessly and spent more time shopping at the malls, this world would be a better place!

The Maven: Men do go to the mall! Who do you think carries the bags for their ladies? Unlike you, I never yawned during the movie. I do think, however, that if they showed more scenes of Alexander's bravery when he was young, it would have enhanced the storyline. I loved the scene where the young Alexander (played by Connor Paolo) showed backbone when he tames the untamable horse (Bucephalas) to impress his father. By the way Blonde, Phantom is coming, Phantom is coming!

The Blonde: Oh, you saw my ex-husband in Home Depot too? I was so uncomfortable having to spend my shopping time running up and down all the wrong aisles to hide from him.

The Maven: Oh, you are so sad! I meant, Phantom of the Opera is going to be opening in theaters December 22, 2004.

The Blonde: OH, that PHANTOM!  I already know and I TOTALLY can't wait! BY THE WAY TO YOU, when we were having our pre-movie dinner, it was so Julia Roberts of you when you were squeezing your lemon into your tea and it split in half, flying across the room and landing in the man's lap at the next table…

The Maven: I live to entertain you!

The Blonde: Maven, didn't you find it as annoying and disturbing as I did when we were watching Alexander up in the balcony section that we could hear obnoxious kids sitting below screaming laughing, making annoying noises, and beaming that red laser-light onto the movie screen?

The Maven: Wasn't that YOUR daughter and her little friends?

The Blonde: Well yes, but if the Queen couldn't control her kid Alexander, then how in the world do you expect me to do it?

The Maven: All in all, Alexander wasn't a bad movie. Colin Farrell was great in the role, as were the rest of the cast. The battle scenes were outstanding, except for the last one in India with the elephants. That battle was brutal and too difficult to watch for an animal lover such as myself. I rate this movie a B.  In addition, I suggest Oliver Stone lighten up on the politics for his next film. Maybe he should try a romance!
The Blonde: Telling Ollie to limit the politics in his films is like asking a baby not to cry! This film had more bloodshed than a Chucky horror film! It was somewhat over-acted, too long and unnecessarily drawn out. Although Alexander did have enough moments to make it a worthwhile night at the movies, there will not be any ACTING awards given out on Oscar night. I rate it a C+. For munchies, I strongly suggest you bring from home ALL your leftover Halloween candy before it spoils. You will have plenty of time to eat every single last piece. See you at the movies!

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