Alexander Revisited – The Final Cut: Two-Disc
Special Edition (DVD-Video)
B Sound: B- Extras: C- Film: C+
director eventually seems to make one of them.
Steven Spielberg had Hook,
Robert Altman had Popeye, Terry
Gilliam just had The Brothers Grimm
and Oliver Stone has Alexander. The big name director goes out and makes a
big film with both critical and commercial intents and everything just
implodes. Odder still, the films are not
considered their worst works and eventually get a cult following of some kind
of whatever reasons. In Stone’s case, we
have three versions of the film now.
the shorter theatrical version that did not bode well for anyone, than there
was the shorter version that was dubbed a “director’s cut” that subtracted the
gay or bi-sexual disposition of the tile character because of either homophobia
and/or a bizarre lawsuit from Greek lawyers who had their own issues (neither
of which changes the absolute fact that he slept with and had sex with men) and
now there is the full-length version Stone intended in the first place. It runs 214 minutes (!) and though it has
better exposition than the previous cuts, the problems with the film have to do
with things like casting and mixed screenplay issues.
problem in this film (and the other noted) are the repeating of the wrong
things at the wrong time. This film
needed to be a standout and big step forward for Stone, who has been reeling
from his best work (Nixon, JFK) since going more commercial and
less edgy (Any Given Sunday) needing
to reestablish himself as the proper heir to the kind of cinema Arthur Penn and
Michael Cimino established. Not being
about America is not the issue either, but making an epic feel as real and
authentic as the American experience is.
we get too much casting that is either mixed, has too much referential baggage
or is just a spoof of itself. As much as
I like them, casting Val Kilmer (The
Doors) and Anthony Hopkins (Nixon)
were big mistakes because they are there with no connection or purpose for the
film or relating to Stone’s previous work.
Colin Farrell is good in the title role, though the relationship he has
with Jared Leto’s character (playing another role to type, unfortunately) and a
third man who looks like he is impersonating Jay Davidson from The Crying Game (or Stargate?) is a mess. A heterosexual director doing “gay lite” is a
casting the formidable Angelina Jolie as the mother who never ages much is also
bizarre, made odder by Miss Jolie unfortunate situation of being media star out
of glamour (too bad the press did not spend more time celebrating her talent or
her amazing work with UNICEF, but that’s yellow journalism for you!) instead of
what she really does so well. There is
zero chemistry there and those scenes are all bombs. Christopher Plummer (going for a Guinness Book Of World Records “actor in
the most films” title) makes more sense and other great British actors like
Brian Blessed, Tim Pigott-Smith and Johnathan Rhys Meyers are a plus, but this
evidence of this is use of the likable Rosario Dawson in a role that should
have been a big winner. She is oddly
absent in the other cuts, but gets more screen time here. She is the non-gay, non-white, non-male,
non-mother love interest and the only road to a “mature heterosexual” status,
if still also subversive by her being a “lady of color” in a world where many
are Mediterranean, which is not exactly “white” and an issue for another essay.
words, while all this vital history is going on and much of it we later learn
is lost because it was not stored or recorded properly, the film in all three
cuts never finds meaning in all the activity.
Sure, the cross-cutting confusion (though not as trippy as the most
counterculture editing of Stone’s oeuvre) is interrupted by some decent battle
scenes, but even they look like Mel Gibson’s Braveheart and any other time the lead soldier gives a speech, it
looks secondary to that film. I only
wondered if Stone might be responding to Gibson’s homophobic film if not taking
on other now-controversial aspects of the man.
the best version of the three cuts, but as the longest, also the most
frustrating not only because it takes so much time, but because most every
problem remains unresolved. The wind-up
is that Stone says things often that only he understands the meaning of and if
the idea was to recreate a 1950s-type epic, than that went down with a thud too. Stone needs to get back on the cutting edge
or retire because he is better than this and was just not up to his usual high
standards and speed for this project.
anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image is exceptionally good-looking for the
standard DVD format, with goods color, depth and definition that actually edges
out the ugly-look of the HD-DVD of Wolfgang Petersen’s overly digitized Troy (reviewed elsewhere on this site)
with digital work here looking better and not used as often. Rodrigo Prieto’s cinematography (in Super
35mm film) has its moments, with Jan Roelfs' Production Design and Jenny
Beavan’s costumes helping the film to be much more watchable than the
screenplay would allow. Warner wanted
this to look good and if this is the DVD, we can only imagine how much better
the HD-DVD and Blu-ray will look whenever they arrive.
Digital 5.1 mix has limits and this sounded better in the theater. Vangelis score is not very memorable and is
as flat as his work on Ridley Scott’s 1942:
Conquest Of Paradise. Maybe Jon
Anderson of Yes should join him next time.
As for the sound mix, it is dynamic until it hits the wall and limits of
standard Dolby Digital, meaning it will take the better 5.1 mixes in HD-DVD and
Blu-ray to do justice to it. Though not
a sonic masterwork, the mix has some character with giving credit to.
extra over the two discs is a brief introduction by Stone about why we have
this third cut. I don’t know if that
matters, but you might want to listen to it after
you watch and see if you agree or not.
- Nicholas Sheffo