87 of 91 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional
Oliver Stone hints at studio problems in the newly recorded introduction, citing that this version is the film he was able to finally put together with 'total creative freedom'. And it's magnificent. The first 45 minutes are breathtaking and almost an epic in themselves as we plunge headfirst into the (extended) battle of Gaugamela before slipping back into Alexander's...
Published on 10 Aug 2007 by Ian Armer
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Greatest Story Never Told
The life story of Alexander of Macedonia, later Alexander the Great is one of epic proportions. If it had been invented for the sole purpose of story telling or to make a film, no one would have believed it. One man risen from the backwaters of ancient Greek society conquers not only his near neighbours, but the might and majesty of the Persian Empire and not satisfied...
Published on 21 Aug 2005 by D. J. Franklin
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87 of 91 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional,
This review is from: Alexander Revisited - The Final Cut (2 Disc Special Edition)  [DVD] (DVD)Oliver Stone hints at studio problems in the newly recorded introduction, citing that this version is the film he was able to finally put together with 'total creative freedom'. And it's magnificent. The first 45 minutes are breathtaking and almost an epic in themselves as we plunge headfirst into the (extended) battle of Gaugamela before slipping back into Alexander's past. The film is stronger for it's total re-edit as well as the inclusion of many scenes that add shades of character to the once faceless soldiers and generals in Alexander's army. Unlike previous versions of the film, the bond between Alexander and his men is palpable. Being allowed to breathe, the film is genuinely affecting in places (the soldier's death after Gaugemela and the last few moments between Phillip and Alexander) where as before it felt hurried, as though we had to get to the next big scene. The big moments are all there, in fact they are even stronger here, but the pacing greatly improves the emotional impact and allows a deeper understanding of the character development and motivation. It also feels as if you are watching an intelligent film taking the viewer on a journey that is both provocative and fascinating.
The India sequences are also extended, and again the battle scene is emotionally involving, creating a genuine moment where we intercut between Alexander the man and the boy, as he talks to Bucephalus before his last charge. The violence in the India sequence is also extremely graphic.
As in any version, Vangelis's score is a bonus and the film looks amazing. The performances are strong and Anthony Hopkins provides, I think, a new voice over for the duration of the film. It works in providing an anchor as the film is very non-linear.
I could go on, but you have to see it for yourself. It is finally an Oliver Stone film, as opposed to the compromise of the theatrical version and the second guessing (although greatly improved) 'Director's Cut'. THIS is the version to own, but with no extras at all, you'd be best to keep a hold of other versions for documentaries, commentaries etc.
An absolute epic. From the critical ravaging of the original release to this glorious masterpiece, it is an essential film for any serious film lover and DVD collector. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant...
74 of 80 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars INCREDIBLY IMPROVED!,
This review is from: Alexander Revisited - The Final Cut (2 Disc Special Edition)  [DVD] (DVD)I was always a fan of the original theatrical cut of Alexander; I found it to be a brave, dashing film which looked and sounded exquisite and had a genuine emotional kick to it. However, as much as I loved it, I could concede that certain parts detracted from the overall effect; namely certain dialogue, too much clunky exposition, perhaps not enough of Stone's Alexander showing himself to be 'great' on the battlefield and perhaps too much of Alexander weeping and sulking. With this new double disc DVD Im am very glad to say all of my personal reservations seem to have been addressed amd rectified!
We now get the sense of epic-ness through a greater spectrum of drama: the family scenes at Pella with Kilmer and Jolie are less distracting and domineering, both battles at Gaugamela and Multan benefit from added gore (sorry if that sounds childish but if a battle is to be horrifying and realistic then we should be allowed to watch the suffering. There isn't much more insulting to an audience than a film editor who robs us of emotional impact!) and tactical explanation, to a generally more lyrical and emotionally resonant narrative. All of the craziness is present and correct: the elephants, the infra-red battle, the Persian eunuchs, the dancing girls, Kilmer and Jolie CHEWING up scenery with their entertainingly demented performances, the larger than life (and achingly beautiful) Vangelis score...everything an epic movie should be is represented here with style, swagger and verve.
Homophopics will not be pleased (who cares?)to learn that the male on male relationaships are given more time and space to develop: for me, this serves to make the characters more sensitive and human; besides, the heteosexual relationaships are shown in far more graphic detail. I guess Stone was hoping that after 2300 years we would have gotten used to the idea but reports suggest many viewers (no elbows pointing at bible-belt USA) still have a problem with this kind of depiction.
But for those of us who are more sensible and open minded, Alexander Revisited represents an astounding example of epic filmmaking that topples the petty attempts like Troy.
Hollywood take note! Both Alexander and Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven have been improved ENORMOUSLY by being allowed longer running times. These are stories that require a large canvas to be told properly. Im very glad Oliver Stone didn't let this go and cut his losses; like Alexander himself, he persevered in the face of incredulity and his emerged, finally, with the masterpiece he set out to make. This is the stuff of Titans. I recommend this without hesitation.
52 of 59 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This DVD Version Is Better Than Directors Cut!!!,
This review is from: Alexander (Two Disc Edition) [DVD] (DVD)Before I begin to compare both the Theatrical DVD Version (2 Discs) and the Alexander Directors Cut Edition (1 Disc) I would just like to inform everyone that this film is actually very very good. I believe that the critics basically had fun in panning Oliver Stones picture and I urge everyone not to watch this film due to those reviews.
Alexander is brilliant. It is historically accurate in many ways and tells a near on complete and interesting story of his life (as the film is three hours long).
Oliver Stone shows his directorial talent by creating many unforgetable images and excellent scenery and backdrops. And the BATTLE SCENES, well, they are just superb. Both the sandy battle at Gualamela and the huge invasion of India at the end of the film are both excellent with some quality cinematography and a great musical soundtrack to back them up. If you are going to watch Alexander just for the battle scenes then believe me, you will not be dissapointed!
Now I come to comparing the DVDs.
On the whole, Alexander is actually an excellent film and I ugre everyone to ignore what the critics have said and wtahc this tremendous epic (with some quality battle scenes included). I would also like to say that if you are going to buy Alexander get the Theatrical 2 Disc Special Edition and not the directors cut.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Flawed but amazing...,
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This review is from: Alexander: Revisited - The Final Cut [Blu-ray]  [US Import] (Blu-ray)Firstly, to put this film in some sort of context, let us not forget that the real life Alexander changed the world as we know it. When Heath Ledger's Joker said: "You've changed things, forever" in the Dark Knight we got goose bumps. But batman is not real, Alexander was, and he really did change things, forever. It's odd that real-life supermen never get the respect they deserve or people say 'history's boring'. If history gave Alexander the Great a cape and some cool gadgets would people be more interested in his story? When Augustus (the first Roman Emperor) was crowned he is reported to have travelled to Alexandria in Egypt to pay his respects at the tomb of Alexander. In a much smaller and less significant way, watching this film felt like I was paying my respects to the man too.
There are many omissions from the Anabasis Alexandri (Campaigns of Alexander) in this film. Before he beat Darius's army at Gaugamela, Alexander had already conquered modern-day Greece, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Egypt (where he was crowned Pharaoh) but to include all that would be impossible, even in Alexander Revisited: The Final Cut. What we get in Oliver Stone's film is Alexander's Persian campaign, from the dusty plains of modern-day Iran, to the mountains of modern-day Afghanistan, and into northern India. Imagine that, the ancient Greeks (Macedonians) slashing their way through the jungles of the Punjab. What a sight that must have been. And that is a sight that Stone gives us.
This miraculous campaign of world domination is given life by Oliver Stone. Yes, Colin Farrell's accent is Irish (as are those of some of his fellow actors) and Val Kilmer and Angelina Jolie (who is only one year older than Farrell) are completely miscast as Alexander's parents, and some of the script is a bit Hollywood, but Stone has captured the essence of the man and his campaigns. He has also recreated the architecture of the times amazingly well - Babylon looks incredible and the next time I go to the British Museum and see the monochrome rubble lying there, I'll know it was actually a gleaming tower of brightly coloured and jewelled marble.
This film is not meant to be Gladiator - it is not an action film. It is a biography of an altogether more interesting (and real) man.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the world's greatest films,
This review is from: Alexander (Two Disc Edition) [DVD] (DVD)This is film as a work of art.
It is so out of the ordinary, so stamped with the personal quirks of all the participants, that it is like a work which breaks through the impersonal mechanisms of camera receptivity, sets, editing, camera techniques, marketing, and all that stuff which makes film into a commodity more than an art form.
The Macedonians cast as 'Irish' is bold and an arbitrary choice. It is brilliant.
Alexander's brazen ambition and personal leadership - . It is so much like Stalin and Hitler that professional critics are bound not to like it. It shows Alexander as a normal person; it's like looking into a mirror and seeing yourself if you had power and youth.
But that is what you get: the mad ambitious military leader as an insane megalomaniac, in short, a normal person put in charge of an army.
His world civilising mission.
His weird choice of an Asian wife. His lizard goddess mother, and his beer drinking soldier father with his single eye and his limp.
The blonde hair of the hero; his over the top sexuality which he is unconcerned to hide.
The absolutely superb speeches in favour of fighting and winning battles; and the crowd of young generals and old veterans around the king.
Every aspect of this film is genius expressed. It all reflects a vision and an ambition of a director.
In my view, this film is like Werner Herzog, but with enough money to do it right, and with an excellent soundtrack, and the very greatest of themes.
It comes as a surprise to me that there was a 'media' attack on it. But the media is not made to help or to encourage true greatness. This film makes the majority of films and media products seem small and useless. Which they are - while this is true greatness.
The question is, what film matches up to this for its status as a 'creation', a product of a director's vision, and as a realised vision into a real person. It's as good as David Lynch, without being irrational.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The East has a way of swallowing young men and their dreams",
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This review is from: Alexander Revisited - The Final Cut (2 Disc Special Edition)  [DVD] (DVD)The DVD has a three-minute introduction by Oliver Stone himself, who talks about the radical restructuring that he had overseen for the new three-and-a-half hour version. He says that this is the third cut and is for DVD only. I never saw either of the other earlier two editions of this film, so my review is blind as to how better or worse is this reconstruction. He says that he has had full freedom to do as he pleased, uncensored, and unhampered by the pressures of a cinema release or studio executives. "Those of you who loved the first Alexander will love it more, and those of you who hated it will hate it more. ... [It was] always a difficult film to understand, difficult to do." Alas there is no commentary to help us understand why this was the case and there are no extras.
Being a fan of other Oliver Stone movies (JFK and Nixon) I was at first unsure about his credentials to attack a non-American historical subject, and I feared his Alexander would be just another biopic made according to the Hollywood view of history. And my only previous experience of Alexander in a visual format was Michael Wood's excellent historico-travelogue for the BBC, "In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great". But I noted that the great English scholar and expert on all things Alexandrian (and more), Robin Lane Fox, was the historical consultant to the film.
The result of the restructuring is that, in effect, we have two films running at the same time - Alexander in Macedonia, and Alexander abroad. The (new) film opens on Alexander's deathbed, and then we move forward forty years to see and hear Ptolemy (Anthony Hopkins) dictating his memoirs in Egyptian Alexandria. Ptolemy's commentary is heard at various points throughout the film and binds the whole story together, summing him up in an extended passage at the very end.
The film swiftly moves to the epic battle of Gaugamela, where a full twenty minutes is spent on makeshift speeches and then the gore of war. I do not know if the words put into Alexander's mouth in the film are in any way true to history, but the constant references to Greek freedom as opposed to Persian tyranny made me uncomfortable, as if this was in some way Stone condoning the debacle of Iraq, Gaugamela being sited in the Kurdish part of that blighted state. But then we see the twelve-year old Alexander being taught by Aristotle (Christopher Plummer) in which he warns his young charge that, "The East has a way of swallowing young men and their dreams." (An "I told you so!" to Bush?)
The battle is portrayed on a truly massive scale with an unexpected focus on tactics, the screen bearing references to the "Macedonian left", the "Macedonian right", etc. The scenes of the two great battles portrayed (the other being that of Hydaspes on the Indian frontier) are true gorefests. Some battle scenes unfortunately suffer from undercranking (slowing the film when shooting and then speeding it back up for the screen) and there are some editing problems too throughout the film - at one point Angelina Jolie speaks without her lips moving (but, then, given her character, maybe this was intentional).
No review of this film can fail to mention the prevalence of Irish accents amongst the Macedonians. Even the young Alexander aged twelve has an Irish accent, so full marks for consistency. Maybe other reviewers know why Oliver Stone did this, and I know it has come in for some criticism, but for me, once it was noted, it was soon forgotten as the film progressed. And when all is said and done, would the film be better with American accents?
The more times I watched this movie, the more I appreciated its strengths. The death of Philip and the acclamation of Alexander are particularly well-handled. The cast as a whole give true and convincing performances. The fine music by Vangelis (who else?) provides complete support for the visuals of tension, romance, exoticism, and glory, so much so that I bought the CD. I could even appreciate Oliver Stone's own appearance for a couple of seconds on-screen.
In the end, I had to concede that this movie's epic scale, matched by its assured intimacy, its power to carry the viewer along and its power to move, could only mean that it had to have five stars.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Alexander, worthy of reappraisal,
This review is from: Alexander - Revisited (Blu-ray)This is a brave attempt to get to who the man Alexander was and for that Oliver Stone should be highly commended. Despite what people say it is well acted(the Irish accents are to represent the Macedonian language which was different to the Greeks ), very well shot and the Alexander Revisited version is the best one to buy.
There are a couple of caveats Oliver Stone completely misses Alexander's time in Egypt and also the sacking of Persopolis which were pivotal moments in Alexander's development and I think should have been included. The destruction of Persopolis is an event which still troubles middle east relations today which is maybe while it was missed.
However you cannot fault Oliver Stone for trying to get to who the man was and trying to deliver this means that in a three hour movies some events need to be deleted or merged/shortened.
Overall this is perfect film to return to again and again. It is ambitious in a way not seen in historical films for a very long time. It is not a linear conventional biography and if you are expecting a simple tale Gladiator, 300 or Troy this is probably not the film for you, its ambitions are beyond those films.
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant on an Epic scale!,
This review is from: Alexander Revisited - The Final Cut (2 Disc Special Edition)  [DVD] (DVD)Wow! I Revisited Alexander last night and although I enjoyed the first theatrical version, this is far superior. The main difference with this version is the incredible beginning, showing the Gaugamela battle first, which establishing the tone of the film and Alexander himself much more clearly. He appears as a great leader, with realistic and human relationships with his army.
This film is very long, but as Oliver Stone says at the beginning: it is unencumbered by normal theatrical running times and is a huge scale epic to be savoured and thought about slowly, and as an audience you never feel rushed, in fact I was disappointed when it was finished! The other main change is that throughout the main film, Stone dips in and out of Alexander's early life, using certain events as props to his later conquering years.
I could never understand the kind of criticism levelled at the original version of this film, especially the performances. Val Kilmer and Angelina Jolie add some marvellous drama and glamour and as for Colin Farrell, I thought he was astounding. He flawlessly conveys the love, pride, ruthless ambition and great heart of a fighter in all his scenes. He's absolutely mesmerising throughout the film and completely convincing.
I love everything about this magnificent, colourful and moving film and to the critics that dismissed it because of wigs, accents, and sudden changes of timeline, this intelligent and adult film experience is obviously not for you - go buy Not Another Teen Movie instead.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Greatest Story Never Told,
This review is from: Alexander - Director's Cut [DVD]  (DVD)The life story of Alexander of Macedonia, later Alexander the Great is one of epic proportions. If it had been invented for the sole purpose of story telling or to make a film, no one would have believed it. One man risen from the backwaters of ancient Greek society conquers not only his near neighbours, but the might and majesty of the Persian Empire and not satisfied with that world shaking task carries on literally to the "ends of the earth" and has the distant and almost mythological kings and chiefs of the Indus valley fall before him. Stopped from further victories only by the dissent in his own ranks he returned home only to die before returning to the land of his birth aged only thirty three. Any film that could capture such a story would be worthy of calling itself the "greatest story ever told". This, however, is not such a film. Not only does it not capture the brilliance of the young general, it doesn't even come close.
Oliver Stone has been a part of many great movies, Midnight Express, Platoon and The Doors to name a few, but to launch such a mish-mash of incoherent and historically bizarre ideas on an audience that has already witnessed the grandeur of the likes of Gladiator is quite frankly pushing his luck.
The film is fairly long at over 160 minutes, but even that was going to be quite a window to squeeze the formative years and the decade long campaign that made up Alexanders life. In an age where epic films are becoming the norm and 3 hour films and stories set over whole trilogies do not even cause the raising of an eyebrow, this would never have been a problem. The problems arise with what you actually fill that space with. The biggest problem I had with the film was the continuity. Opening with the upbringing of Alexander by his strange snake fixated mother and his brutal father the film then jumps forward to the third year of his campaign as he prepares to fight Darius of Persia. The intervening ten or so years is covered by a brief narrative. Its the equivalent of saying World War Two started in 1939 but nothing really interesting happened until 1942, but then again Oliver Stone might just take that line so i had better not put ideas in his head. In a gory and elongated battle scene which seems to be mainly a vehicle for the props and special affects department to show off we see Alexander win the day, hooray! From here on we cut back and forth between the campaigns of the adult Alexander and the traumas of the youth, but the overall effect is to lose the pace of the film and at times the story line itself. Over the ten year campaign that is supposedly being portrayed here, key events that really happen years apart are portrayed back to back and parts of the real story that are key to the understanding of the mans military genius are not attempted at all. I understand what the use of flash backs can achieve, introducing relevant information from the past to help put later parts of the story into context, but here it just all gets too confusing, a simpler straight forward chronological approach may have served the film better.
Whilst acknowledging that unlike Gladiator or Braveheart that will sit as comparisons to this work, Alexander is more about the psyche and psychological aspects of the characters that a straight forward action flick. But even that seems inconclusive as the script isn't brave enough to get to the heart of the nature of the age. Greek warriors seemed to have been a complex lot and it is argued by some that their sexual preferences changed through different stages of their life. A family man would often be expected to patron a young warrior to help with training costs and sharing experience gained at the sharp end, and in return their relationship would be, shall we say, more that fatherly. Stone seems to tip-toe around such issues, implies such relationships being in evidence but fails to explore the line with any vigour.
With the cast that Stone managed to assemble, I would have expected a lot more but in their defence they could only work with what was laid before them and i think anyone would have had a hard job turning in a memorable performance from this script. Colin Farrell is the lead and without being too harsh falls very short of the mark. I know that he is a good actor, Phonebooth is proof of that, anyone who can be stood in a phonebooth for most of the movie and also be the focal point of the whole affair must be up to the mark, but for whatever reason, this was not his finest hour. Val Kilmer as Philip, Alexanders father, roars and shouts and brawls his way through the script and its difficult to understand who was being portrayed here. Whilst Macedonia was seen as the cultural nemesis of the more enlightened Greek city states to the south and east, Philip was known to have been eloquent and educated and the equal of any statesman of his time. To portray him as Brian Blessed playing a comedy walk-on in Blackadder is not only selling the man short, its just taking an easy way out and portraying the relationship between father and son in black and white instead of exploring the shades of grey. Angelina Jolie as Alexanders mother fares slightly better Even if even in the later stages of the story she looks younger that her son, which is to be expected as they are both the same age. Ever alluring to watch, she manages to find a role in the mess of a character brief given her. Admittedly she seemed to be part of a cult group who used snakes in their worship, but to portray her as having them constantly crawling all over her and her son is a bit over the top. Old hands Christopher Plummer and Anthony Hopkins do well as Ptolemy and Aristotle but their screen time is too brief to rescue the sinking ship that the rest have to travel in.
Other small annoyances, which may cause others to call me too pedantic raise their heads at this point. Hoplite troops marching and manoeuvrering to modern command words "attention" is a bit odd, as is the fact that everyone seems to have a Gaelic accent of some kind. I'm sure they were not all from the Emerald Isle. Was it that Farrell can't do accents and so every one had to sound like him? Or is it a subtle way of implying that Macedonia was the outlying part of the civilized world and Stone thought that giving them an Irish accent would give the audience a reference point to cling too.
All moans aside, and I know that there were a lot, it has some good bits of action and drama, but aside from the block buster moments that no film can be made without these days the film in my opinion does not fulfil its brief in any way. It does not portray Alexanders life and achievements in a way that bears any resemblance to the known truths. Neither does it successfully explore the relationships between the family and friends, or the morals of the times. In trying to be all things to all men it seems to have over reached itself and falls short of its goals, consigned to the bargain bin marked "confused" sub section "unresolved". Watch it for the action , the sets and the scenery, but don't attempt to gain any insight into the man or his times. Close but no cigar.
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly undervalued film.,
This review is from: Alexander [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)Ignore the Colin Farrell tabloid backlash that surrounded the film and just take it as its own thing and you might enjoy it. Colin Farrell wears a big blonde wig. Get over it. Everybody speaks in an Irish accent. Is this any less realistic than everybody nattering away in American or English accents? Nope. Not really.
Alexander came out around the same time as other similar film such as King Arthur and Troy, yet was the only one in my eyes not to suffer the inevitable comparisons to Lord Of The Rings. Oliver Stone brings his typically manic style and subtlety, if you want to call it that, to Alexander that sets it apart right off the bat. Farrell is a fantastic presence - say what you will of his drunken antics in the newspapers, he's a fine actor - and the story is a belter. It's a long movie, but then it's a very ambitious one. Stone tries to tell the life story of one of the greatest leaders of all time, a man who charged into battles so massive that subtitles are required to tell you which part of it you're watching.
History buffs will get a lot out of this, as would anybody with enough patience to sit through the runtime and enough maturity to deal with the homosexual themes and big blonde wigs. It is very over the top, it does get a little hammy, but I admire the director's drive and his courage to tell such a huge story without compromise. It's unlike any movie he, or anybody else, has ever made. That alone gets my money.
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Alexander Revisited - The Final Cut (2 Disc Special Edition)  [DVD] by Oliver Stone (DVD - 2007)
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