The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Alexander the Ordinary’ fails to conquer all

Courtney McKay | Monday, December 6, 2004

Olive Stone’s “Alexander” is perhaps one of the most overly hyped movies of the year, and it fails to deliver the epic tale it promises.Actor Colin Farrell assumes the role of the ancient Macedonian king Alexander, who, according to the film, was torn between loyalties to his mother, the snake-charmer Olympias (Angelina Jolie), and his father, the drunken, one-eyed Philip (Val Kilmer). But “Alexander” takes many liberties when filling in the blanks of Alexander’s personal life.Moviegoers are also told, mostly through narration by old Ptolemy (Anthony Hopkins), one of Alexander’s former generals, the legendary figure struggled with his sexual identity while fighting to escape from the clutches of his mother. The film chronicles Alexander’s torn relationships between his wife, Roxana (Rosario Dawson), and his eyeliner-wearing childhood friend Hephaestion (Jared Leto).Sadly, however, the impressive cast of Hollywood’s finest stars cannot save “Alexander” from becoming a royal flop. The acting is horrible. For example, while many films set in ancient times require the actors to speak with a faux English accent, in “Alexander” the actors appear to have selected accents at random. Several characters speak with an Irish brogue, except for Farrell, who actually is Irish, but he speaks with an American accent for much of the movie. Many of the supposedly Greek soldiers also sound Irish or Scottish. However, Jolie’s character has the worst accent as Olympias is stuck with a thick, indiscernible inflection that sounds more Russian than Macedonian. In the end not even the ridiculous accents can mask the awful dialogue and tedious speeches, including those given by Farrell.Farrell is hardly a master orator, and throughout the film, he seems to believe yelling is an acceptable substitute for being passionate. His speeches are both uninspiring and dry. In the end, the typical moviegoers will find themselves distracted by Farrell’s amusing blonde, wavy mane, which, despite weathering vicious battles, never has a hair out of place, during his long, monotonous speeches.”Alexander” uses Hopkins’ character to reminisce about many of Alexander’s finest military moments rather than actually show them. This causes the epic tale to move at a slow crawl. Considering the movie is just a few minutes shy of three hours, “Alexander” should have had enough time for more old-fashioned action scenes, but it does not utilize that time wisely.Even though the movie sets out to be a military epic, it contains only two gory battles, which are the only glimpses of energy in the entire film. The first is the battle at Gaugamela, during which Alexander’s 40,000 soldiers face a force of 250,000 Persians, and drive Persian king Darius away, leaving Alexander in control of Babylon. The only other combat sequence depicted is the battle at the Hydaspes River, where Alexander’s troops faced the Indian King Poros, pitting elephant against horse. During this scene, Alexander is badly injured, and an odd red tint is added to the scene, which although being symbolic, only distracts the audience.In the end, all the audience is left with is a sore back after sitting through almost three hours of an especially dull movie in uncomfortable theater seating. As the film’s posters and trailers tell us, “Fortune favors the bold,” not the boring, and this surely will be reflected in the lack of “fortune” at the box office for Oliver Stone. Save your well-earned Christmas money for a better movie while on break.