Alexander
R1 - America - Warner Home Video
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak and Chrisana Love (12th November 2007).
The Film

You really begin to worry when you get a director's introduction before a film. Although I did appreciate Oliver Stone's attempts to justify the new cut as being more in line with the historical epics of old (which he informs us he was attempting to emulate) the only real bonus to this new edit was the intermission between discs which allowed me time to consume the drugs necessary to endure the second half.
"Alexander Revisited" is Stone's own cut (because two versions weren't enough) of this already epically bloated epic. Perhaps he was responding to much of the criticism for the first cut(s) in attempting to instill some more clarity of intention and a more cohesive narrative; however he fails to do either. It may be hard to believe that he only succeeded in making it more self indulgent. The constant jumps back and forth through time just serve to make this more confusing and thus, more frustrating
Overwrought, overlong and clumsy, with some highly questionable choices regarding accents (not only letting Colin Farell retain his Irish accent, but having Jared Leto and Val Kilmer adopt a slight Irish tone whilst letting Angelina Jolie sound like a fortune telling gypsy). Even the battle scenes (which we know he is capable of) are weak and disjointed. Stone is clearly in love with the myth of Alexander, the great and benevolent king. He famously said his film was not for those with "conventional minds". It definitely seems as if he saw something of himself in Alexander, the persecuted visionary as he portrayed him.
Much has been made of the inclusion of Alexander's bisexuality. Something which was common amongst men of power during the time, but seems odd here due to the half assed and confused attempts by Colin Farell to act convincingly attracted to other males. Interestingly a group of Greek lawyers threatened to sue Warner Brothers over this, insisting a disclaimer be added reminding viewers this was a fictional account of his life. It seemed quite a copout to show (in part) the great bond and love between Alexander and Hephaistion only to then cut away. I guess Stone, the studio (or both) felt inclusions of actual homosexual acts may destroy the box office chances (seeing as this film would most likely appeal to a red blooded male audience). So it comes across as a great exercise in fence sitting. Brave enough to hint at what we already all know, but too cowardly to really follow through with what history would tell us was actually a great and life-long love.
If you are happy to part with three hours (and then some) of your time, this is an interesting look at how the mighty can indeed fall, as the real parallel between Alexander the Great and Oliver Stone is that men who are capable of great acts (and great pieces of film making) can also make great blunders of judgment.

Video

Presented in the film's original theatrical ratio of 2.40:1 this widescreen anamorphic transfer is for all accounts and purposes reference quality material. Whatever you may think of the film the transfer itself is a phenomenal effort and displays the richness and detail of Stone's frame capturing the impressive set and costume designs of the era. The image is sharp and consistently so throughout the film's lengthy runtime. The detail is captured in every shot and aside from high definition being able to take the depth further for standard definition DVD this is impressive to look at. Colors are vibrant, bold and lush from the golden hues of the deserts to the reds and white of the costumes. Skin tones appear accurate and natural and black levels are deep and bold with only a hint of noise. I spotted no edge-enhancements or compression related issues this truly is a top notch A+ effort in terms of image transfers.

Audio

A single audio track is included in English Dolby Digital 5.1 surround, while this film probably could have benefited from a full bit-rate DTS track this Dolby Digital 5.1 effort does the trick. Having taken the leap into HD and being spoiled by uncompressed PCM or Lossless audio it's sometimes hard going back to standard issue DVD soundtracks. The equivalent is like going back to dial-up Internet having has the pleasure of hi-speed broadband. But in saying that this Dolby 5.1 track is very powerful and presents the sound with adequate range and depth that a picture like this requires. The dialogue is clear and distortion free but the true aggressive nature of the track is put to the test during the film's action sequences and the potent musical score that displays good separation throughout the sound space. The calmer more toned down moments also feature solid ambient sound and not once do not feel immersed by the sound, while being immersed by the performances and accents is a whole other thing...
Optional subtitles are included in both English and English for the hearing impaired.

Extras

Warner Brothers has released this film with only with a video introduction as an extra. The intro runs for 3 minutes 19 seconds and here the director Oliver Stone comments on this newest and 3rd version of the film produced exclusively for home video release. He talks about the purpose of the cut and the changes to the film's structure and producing an edit without the limitations of theatrical release and studio control.

Overall

The Film: D- Video: A+ Audio: A+ Extras: F Overall: D+

 


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