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Category:    Home > Reviews > Epic > History > Action > Adventure > War > Gay > Alexander: The Ultimate Cut (2004/Warner Blu-ray)

Alexander: The Ultimate Cut (2004/Warner Blu-ray)

Picture: A Sound: A Extras: B+ Film: B+

This new release of Oliver Stone's Alexander sees the film in its most epic scope yet. Four total versions of the film exist, the initial theatrical cut and three home video director's cuts: the Director's Cut in 2005, the Final Cut in 2007 and this new release Ultimate Cut in 2014. The two earlier DVD versions of Alexander (director's cut and the theatrical version) sold over 3.5 million copies in the United States. Oliver Stone's third version, Alexander Revisited: The Final Cut (2007) has sold close to one million copies and became one of the highest-selling catalog items from Warner Bros. Let's hope the same comes with this release, which has an incredible fold out packaging and some really cool extras and two discs - one for the new Ultimate Version and the second is the original Theatrical Version. It also features a 40-Page Art Book with Concept Drawings, Storyboards and Behind-the-Scenes Photos, Correspondence Memos Between Oliver Stone, and the Cast and Crew New Documentary The Real Alexander and the World He Made. The discs add The Ultimate Cut Commentary by Oliver Stone, Original Theatrical Version and Commentary. Sean Stone's Feature-Length Documentary Fight Against Time: Oliver Stone's Alexander & much more!

Alexander stars Colin Farrell as King Alexander the Great, Angelina Jolie as his Mother Olympias, Val Kilmer as his Father, and Anthony Hopkins as the Narrator and Ptolemy I Soter - this is a must see release of the film, especially if you haven't seen it in previous incarnations.

The film is based on the life of Alexander the Great, King of Macedonia, who conquered Asia Minor, Egypt, Persia and part of ancient India. Shown are some of the key moments of Alexander's youth, his invasion of the mighty Persian Empire and his death. It also outlines his early life, including his difficult relationship with his Father Philip II of Macedonia (Val Kilmer), his strained feeling towards his mother Olympias (Angelina Jolie), the unification of the Greek city-states and the two Greek Kingdoms (Macedonia and Epirus) under the Hellenic League, and the conquest of the Persian Empire in 331 BC. It also details his plans to reform his empire and the attempts he made to reach the end of the then known world.

The story begins 40 years after 323 BC, around 283 BC, with Ptolemy I Soter (Hopkins), who narrates throughout the film. We see Alexander's daily life and the strained relationship between his parents. Alexander grows up with his mother Olympias and his tutor Aristotle, where he finds interest in love, honor, music, exploration, poetry and military combat. His relationship with his Father is tragically destroyed when Philip marries Attalus' niece, Eurydice.

After Philip is assassinated, Alexander becomes King of Macedonia. Ptolemy briefly mentions Alexander's punitive campaign in which he razes Thebes and burns Persepolis, then gives an overview of Alexander's West-Persian campaign, including his declaration as the son of Zeus by the Oracle of Amun at Siwa Oasis, his EPIC battle against the Persian Emperor Darius III in the Battle of Gaugamela and his eight-year campaign across Asia.

Also shown are Alexander's private relationships with his childhood friend Hephaestion and later his wife Roxana. Hephaestion (Jared Leto) compares Alexander to Achilles, to which Alexander replies that, if he is Achilles, Hephaestion must be his Patroclus (Achilles' best friend and his lover). When Hephaestion mentions that Patroclus died first, Alexander pledges that, if Hephaestion should die first, he will follow him into the afterlife. Hephaestion shows extensive jealousy when he sees Alexander with Roxana and deep sadness when he marries her, going so far as to attempt to keep her away from him after Alexander murders Cleitus the Black in India.

After initial objection from his soldiers, Alexander convinces them to join him into his final and bloodiest battle, The Battle of Hydaspes. He is severely injured with an arrow but survives and is celebrated. Later on, Hephaestion succumbs to an unknown illness either by chance or perhaps poison, speculated in the movie to be Typhus carried with him from India. Alexander, full of grief and anger, distances himself from his wife, despite her pregnancy, believing that she has killed Hephaestion. He dies less than three months after Hephaestion, in the same manner, keeping his promise that he would follow him.

The film echoes the scope of Lawrence of Arabia in many of its shots and is breathtakingly filmed and choreographed. The picture is flawlessly captured in 1080p HD with a 2.40:1 aspect ratio and lossless DTS Master Audio English 5.1 sound. Subtitles are also available in English, French and Spanish.

The Ultimate Cut clocks in around 207 minutes (about three and a half hours long) whilst the Theatrical Version is a much different experience running around 175 minutes. This is definitely the version of the film to own and check out! Kudos to Warner Bros for this fantastic release!

- James Harland Lockhart V



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