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PCR # 244  (Vol. 5, No. 48)  This edition is for the week of November 22--28, 2004.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith
Two stars

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

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Warner Brothers     
Starring: Colin Farrell, Angelina Jolie, Rosario Dawson, Jared Leto, Val Kilmer, and Anthony Hopkins
Directed by: Oliver Stone
Rated: R
Running Time: 2 hours 53 mins

When I was in the 6th grade, I had to do a presentation on Phillip, the father of Alexander the Great. As I was going over my notes, one of my classmates told me not to forget to mention that Phillip was a raging alcoholic. So, after I gave my little speech and showed off the working aqueduct my father had made out of an old Hot Wheels track I finished with "and it's recently been discovered that Phillip was a raging alcoholic!" When class was over, my teacher took me aside and told me I had done very well. Or at least until I got to the "raging alcoholic" part. I shuffled home, trying to figure out how to tell my dad that his aqueduct had gotten a "C." 30 years later, Oliver Stone has taken his place in front of the class. And, sadly, he's shuffling home as well.

"Alexander" could have been one of the greatest epics ever made. Director Stone has three Oscars (one for writing, two for directing) at home on his mantle and has been nominated for eight more. The cast is made up of some of the finest talent Hollywood can offer. And the subject, the mythical Alexander the Great, is one with a story just aching to be told. So why doesn't it work? Thank you for asking:

1. The cast. Yes, Stone has assembled an impressive combination of young, hot Hollywood stars and old, wise British ac-tors. Anthony Hopkins, Christopher Plummer, Brian Blessed. Trained on the classics. Colin Farrell, Angelina Jolie, Jared Leto. Good actors. And very nice looking. Maybe that's the problem. Even with an Academy Award on her resume, I found it very had to believe that 29-year-old Jolie was the mother of 28-year-old Farrell. And though, like many films set in ancient times, everyone speaks with a kind of faux English accent, Jolie seems to be channeling Vampira, pronouncing words like water and wine with a "V" at the beginning. Farrell seems to have learned that passion means waving your arms and raising your voice. When he is giving his troops a rousing speech the first image that popped into my mind was Bill Murray energizing his fellow camp counselors in "Meatballs." Probably not what Oliver Stone had in mind. Of all the younger actors in the film, Leto gives the best performance. As Alexander's friend and confidant, he alone seems to be able to give the work the respect it deserves. Hopkins, Plummer, Blessed and the other older cast members proved long ago that they could act in their sleep. They're old pros that bring actual credibility to their roles.

2. The story. For someone who ruled most of the known world, Alexander was never home. Two, four, even six years on the road were nothing to the young ruler. How he even had time to start a family is pretty incredible. Maybe that's why he depends so much on Leto. And while, like Seinfeld said, there's nothing wrong with it, much is made of the fact that Alexander is bisexual, which is actually causing a furor in Greece. It's left up to the audience to decide their relationship.

3. The rest. OK, this is the film's strong point. The film is beautifully photographed by Mexican cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto. The sets and locations are gorgeous. And Stone has constructed a final battle in India in which he insisted on using real elephants. It is when the action is ongoing that the film is at it's best. Sadly, that action is few and far between during the almost 3-hour running time. And another thing, why is it that Val Kilmer and all of the others who are missing an eye couldn't scrape up a few shekels to buy an eye patch? If you gave them all corn cob pipes they could have had a Popeye convention!

On a scale of zero to four stars, I give "Alexander"  Two stars

This week's movie review of "Alexander" is ©2004 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2004, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2004 by Nolan B. Canova.