review for Alexander on AllMovie

Alexander (2004)
by Perry Seibert review

After JFK and Natural Born Killers, it seemed unthinkable that Oliver Stone would become conventional. Sadly, that's exactly what happened. Alexander is a big bore of a film, but it certainly is heartfelt and visually ambitious. Stone is working on a large visual scale here, and it is obvious he studied David Lean. But what he failed to take from Lean was that epic events have more meaning when they happen to three-dimensional people. The character of Alexander is presented in simplistic Freudian terms that would be an excellent starting point from which an actor could build a character, but the film does nothing to shade Alexander's character, and he becomes more and more difficult to care about. The fascinating aspect of the film is Alexander's very close relationship to his lifelong friend Hephaistion (Jared Leto). While this film never shows the two getting physical with each other, Stone certainly suggests that the pair knew each other in the Biblical sense, and hints at how the relationship often brings out the best in his main character. Considering the occasional homophobia in some of Stone's films, this relationship makes for a pleasant surprise. However, the female characters are treated as shabbily as they usually are in Stone's work. Angelina Jolie, in a performance that can only be described as extreme, was obviously encouraged to play it "big." This leads to a few moments of interest, but it also makes one think that she might have watched Faye Dunaway in Mommie Dearest in order to prepare. Rosario Dawson manages a few interesting moments, until Alexander beds her, at which point Stone seems to lose all interest in her. Oliver Stone has always been earnest when detailing his heroes (Jim Morrison, Jim Garrison, Ron Kovic), but never before has he assumed that his audience shared his fascination. That assumption makes Alexander a chore to experience.