Alexander is not so ‘great’

By Tanika Ely

“Fortune favors the bold,” a quote taken from Virgil’s epic, the Aeneid, is used to set the opening scene of Alexander. While Alexander tried to be somewhat bold in mixing historical record with director Oliver Stone’s vision of how Alexander the Great became king and conqueror, it falls far from spectacular.

Angelina Jolie plays Olympias, Alexander’s manipulative mother. Her character is twisted and complicated, and Jolie plays the role well. She even outshines the movie’s main character, Alexander, played by Colin Farrell. His acting seems stagnant at times and his accent changes throughout the movie.

What made the movie most unbearable were the constant flashforwards forty years after Alexander’s death, which were used primarily to explain the historical significance of his life and death. Some of the flashforwards were out-of-order and did not explain how Alexander became king until close to the end of the movie. These time leaps only confuse the audience and cut into pivotal scenes with boring storytelling.

While exact dates are used, they fail to contribute much to the film and have not, nor cannot, be confirmed. The only function they serve is helping the audience keep track of the film’s progression amid the flurry of flashforwards.

Stone flirts with the idea that Alexander had romantic interest with his boyhood friend, Hephaistion, played by Jared Leto, but does not completely lean one way or the other, creating even more unanswered questions.

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This three-hour movie continuously goes from interesting to dull in a matter of minutes. The battle scenes were the most viewable, though strikingly similar to those in Troy and Gladiator. Camera angles included left-to-right pans and bird’s-eye views of the battlefield, revealing the masses of fighters involved. Such scenes were also extremely graphic when focusing on the individual fighters.

The final battle, where Alexander charges a rider on an elephant, comes off as tacky. The use of slow motion, which is meant to dramatize the battle and symbolize Alexander’s hallucinations, all collide into something laughable instead of serious.

Despite the confusing and boring elements of the movie, there were some highlights. King Philip’s assassination, which allowed the very young Alexander to become king, was enthralling. It highlighted the movie’s power struggle between Philip and Olympias. Val Kilmer did a reasonable job playing Philip, Alexander’s egocentric father.

Stone meddles with history again during the sequence of events that eventually led to Alexander’s early death. Did Alexander die of fever or did his own men poison him? Stone alludes to the latter, but leaves the question relatively open-ended.

While not completely horrible or surpassingly great, Alexander is okay at best.