Film review by Colin Fraser


Biopic about Alexander the Great, the boy-warrior who conquered the known world. score

moviereview rates films from
5 (unmissable) to 1 (unwatchable)
Colin Farrell, Jared Leto, Angelina Jolie, Val Kilmer, Anthony Hopkins

Oliver Stone

Oliver Stone, Christopher Kyle


Rating / Running Time
MA / 175 minutes

Australian Release
January 2005

Official Site

(c) moviereview 2005
ABN 72 775 390 361

A year ago there were five Alexander  projects on the boil; two European, an HBO special, Baz Luhrmann’s extravaganza and Oliver Stone’s blood and guts epic. The latter is first out of the gate with blonde Colin Farrell in the hot seat as history’s most famous warrior. Timelines are tossed in a blender to tell parallel narratives: Alexander opens with a gibbering King on his death-bed, surges forward forty years as former General, now Pharaoh, Ptolemy (Anthony Hopkins) relates sixty years of history in flashback. Alexander becomes king, conquers Persia, battles India and fights his family for added colour and confusion. This is not the crowd-pleaser that made Troy and Gladiator box-office delights – it’s a brutal film told with Stone’s typical directorial bravado that tears at the narrative, swinging one way then several others. A self-conscious choice to affect regional accents is as off putting as Angelina Jolie’s animated stab as Alexander’s mother. Then there’s the blonde wig. Yet for all its self-absorption, Alexander is a bold attempt to emulate arty edifice, a currency as common in contemporary epics as Alexander’s coy relationship with best friend Hephaiston (Jared Leto) – a daring move for a $150m mass-market movie. Whether these elements combine successfully depends on your tolerance for brutality, blurred truth and excess. Stone fought off the competition (Luhrmann remains stalled in pre-production) to sate our immediate interest in the warrior King. Did he ever. For the most part, Alexander is an unfocussed and unsatisfactory combination of ideas that, unlike its subject, won’t take over the known world. // COLIN FRASER