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How is it possible to take one of history's most interesting figures and a huge budget and make possibly the world's worst movie, ever?
I was saddened when Alexander the movie received criticism for featuring homosexuality. Besides being a neanderthalic prejudice, it distracted from the many valid reasons for criticism. This is a strong contender for worst movie ever made.
I will say first that this film has a marvelous cast. But it really doesn't help. Really.
It's almost totally ahistorical, but that's standard practice. It's irritating if you know something about Alexander's life and deeds (I studied him college), but the people I feel sorry for are the ones who walk away thinking they've been exposed to an educational experience. There is a small book in explaining how wrong this assumption is. It'd write it, but it would involve watching the movie again. But the rather liberal interpretation of the available information is a side issue in explaining why this is a strong contender for worst movie ever made.
The script is dreadful. Mind-bendingly dreadful. It's deficiencies take several forms. I shall enumerate them;
1) The dialogue is actually a series of monologues. Every-one is apparently reciting excerpts from their autobiographies, or treatises on whatever is at hand, letters to whomever they are talking to, letters to the editor, political speeches, self-help manuals... It's certainly not conversation.
2) It's portentous. I sometimes like portentousness, it can lend atmosphere. Here, it lends to the tedium. The tedium doesn't need adding to, it's already oversubscribed.
3) It never knows when to stop. Anthony Hopkins has a monologue at the end that goes on for several minutes. You keep thinking it'll end, hoping, praying it will end (this Anthony Hopkins! He could probably read the ingredients of soap and make it sound interesting), and it does, eventually, but by then you slipped even further into a coma and are in no fit condition to cheer. Colin Farrell seems to spend half the movie looking off into space and holding forth at length on, oh, whatever, but always passionately.
4) It's badly written. It's a bad series of portentous monologues that never know when to stop.
Aside from the script (perhaps) the film features other flaws that inhibit it from greatness. Such as?
Pointless time jumps. I have nothing against time jumps. Highlander, Once upon a time in America, Godfather part two, Once upon a time in the West, For a few dollars more, and probably other films that weren't by Sergio Leone... Many great films feature them. But usually they follow a rationale. Usually they aren't apparently random and unconnected. Here, it's like they put a couple of reels in the wrong order.
Sins of omission. While I said that the lack of adherence to historical accuracy was a side issue, not mentioning almost any episode that might actually have been exciting or interesting seems a dubious policy. Alexander, as the posters implied, was the stuff of legend made real. (I make no moral judgement here). Does it mention the phalanx? Any the innovative ways that he overcame apparently unassailable fortresses by looking at the problems from another angle? The political methodology whereby he kept a grip on all of the peoples behind him? The Gordian Knot? Does it hell. It does feature a couple of battle scenes, the second of which is shot in a vivid and pretty colour scheme, and both of which illustrate that he fought at forefront of his army. So that's something.
The most laughable sex scene ever committed to film. Alexander wins over his bride by making kitty-cat claws gestures and noises. There's more, but that's definitely the stand-out feature.
I could go on, but this film has already eaten enough of my life. The only thing epic here is the ineptitude. It actually made me feel nauseous.