In 2004, director Oliver Stone released the theatrical version of Alexander. Totalling 175 minutes total runtime, the film was a box office failure, domestically at least. Shot on a budget of $155 million, it made back just over $34 million. Critics panned it, and audiences didn’t go to see it. It was a failure.
For the DVD release, Stone decided to re-cut the film, making the total runtime 167 minutes. That’s not much shorter, but it helped with pacing issues that the theatrical version had. The director’s cut, along with the theatrical cut, sold 3.5 million copies in the United States. Apparently, Oliver Stone took this as a hint that audiences wanted another, longer cut of Alexander.
In 2007, we got this cut, titled “Alexander: Revisited – The Final Cut“. Totaling 3 hours and 34 minutes runtime, Stone really went all out with this version of his film. He has called this cut the “clearest interpretation [he] can offer”. So, with this knowledge in mind, this is the version of Alexander that I decided to watch. I regret this choice wholeheartedly.
I’ll give you some advice before I even begin saying why Alexander: Revisited isn’t worth your time. If you decide to watch Alexander, the version you want is the director’s cut. You might end up missing out on a lot of content–40 minutes worth, as a matter of fact–but I think that you won’t find that mattering all that much. You do not want to waste three and a half hours on this film, trust me.
I don’t typically like historical films to begin with, because they always seem like they want to teach me something about the period or the characters within it. Alexander is no different. It’s somewhat of a biographical film, detailing the life of Alexander the Great (Colin Farrell). Already I’m curious about it. Why cast Farrell, an Irishman, in the role of Greek? Will he be able to disguise his accent enough to make him believable as Alexander?
Well, no, he can’t. He still sounds quite Irish to me. Although I guess that doesn’t matter, as I don’t actually know what the Greeks sounded like back around 330 BC. Regardless, Farrell didn’t sell me on his role as a great man, especially one like Alexander. He didn’t come across as that incredible, to be honest, even if he is pretty handy with a sword.
Although we don’t even get to see him in battle very often, as there isn’t all that much fighting in the film. Actually though, for a film based around war, it’s more of a character drama than anything else. And this would be okay, except that you won’t grow to like or care about any of the characters within the film.
I think this happens for two reasons. For one, the acting isn’t any good. None of the actors showed much emotion, and nobody seemed to really be into their roles. The second reason is because of how poorly the characters are written. They aren’t given any reason to appeal to the audience, unless of course you are already familiar with the story of Alexander the Great, in which case, you have no reason to see the movie anyway.
See, if you already know the story, then sitting through 3+ hours just to hear another re-telling of it doesn’t make much sense. I mean, sure, you could enjoy watching attractive actors playing parts that you already know quite well, but since the film isn’t entertaining, then I think you’d just be wasting your time.
The fact that it is boring, and incredibly overlong, is the biggest quibble I have with Alexander. Had it been, I don’t know, half its final runtime, then it might have actually been quite good. See, all of the time when the film is focusing on characters we don’t’ care about, it could have instead had these moments cut, allowing us to get to the parts of the movie we want to see–the battles.
I don’t have much to say about the battles except that they don’t occur often enough. They’re entertaining enough, seemingly realistic, and they are the best parts of Alexander. Unfortunately, they are too few and far between to really make a big impact on the film’s total quality. For example, in the first two hours of the film, there is one fight scene, and it appears very close to the beginning. We then have to listen to characters talk and not accomplish much of anything for the rest of this time.
With a runtime of three and a half hours, I can’t recommend Alexander at all. Maybe the director’s cut is better, I really cannot say. I do know that Revisited wasn’t enjoyable, and felt like a big waste. I didn’t care about the characters or the story, the acting wasn’t any good, and I just wanted to sleep for the majority of the time it was on my TV.