Sunday, November 28, 2004

Alexander

After six hours of college apps (my life rocks), I decided enough was enough, and it was time to go watch a movie (well, actually, I had been planning it all weekend, but doesn't it sound cooler the other way?). So I called up John and I said "John, I'm gonna go see a movie tonight, you wanna come?" And John said there was a football game on and he might. And I said "okay!" And then John calls me at like 6 and he's like "dude, I'm on...what movie?" And I'm like "Alexander" and he's like "is that any good?" and I'm like "I have no idea. Some say it's the best picture of the year, others say it's a piece of crap. I want to find out" and then he's like "all right man, I'm there."

In the end, "Alexander" is a little of both. There are moments where I wondered if it really could be as amazing as some have said. And there are many moments when I realized where The Oregonian's D+ came from. But in the end, my reaction was that the film was certainly well done, and I liked much of it, but I didn't get nearly as caught up in it as the film wanted me to be. In fact, I was never caught up in it.

The film starts slow, but the first of two really huge battle scenes is genius. This ain't LORD OF THE RINGS, where no one bleeds. This is a vicious battle with severed limbs and blood flying everywhere. Oh, and it's confusing as hell. You can't tell who's who or what they're doing or anything. And that's not just the camerawork, that's HOW IT IS. It's a really beautiful scene.

But the rest...as a filmgoer, I didn't like it. There's no clearly-defined enemy, and only a vague objective. But as someone who likes to see films take a chance, that's vaguely intriguing. See, the entire story is told from the perspective of Ptomely, a man who fought in Alexander's army. Sure, there are some scenes he's not in, but they are scenes which anyone who knew Alexander could assume happened. That's why Alexander's sexual orientation is up in the air, for example.

It is, however, a well-acted film. Colin Farrell is a guy I'm cheering for big time. I think he's kinda gotten over that thing he was in early 2003 where he was the "new hot actor" and is moving into being a really great actor, which he certainly is. And he shows it here. This is one of the few films of its kind whose central character gets the best actor. Angelina Jolie also does exceptional work, and for once she isn't tried to be shown as some hot babe. Director Oliver Stone uses her looks, but not in the way, say, "Tomb Raider" did. Val Kilmer has little to do, and does little with it. Jared Leto (the main guy in "Requiem") is fantastic, though. And Rosario Dawson...man, she was just creepy in the bedroom scene.

Above all, "Alexander" is a hard film to recommend...to anyone. It's certainly a lot better a film than "Troy." That film's central problem was that it portrayed the Trojan war as a monthlong event, instead of something that raged for decades. "Alexander" is definitely an epic. But ultimately, its lack of focus seems less like a storytelling device and more like a way to get out of making a four hour movie, instead of a three hour one. And even at three hours, it feels too long. I glanced at my watch with an hour to go, and was tempted many times after that.

So if you want me to assign a letter grade (and I HATE using letter grades, but I'll do it this one time because I can't really sum up my reaction to this film), I'd say a C+

2 comments:

John and Karolyn said...

Blogger wouldn't let me log in at all last night...or earlier this morning. Weird stuff, it was.

Yeah, so last night I watched the ND/USC game long enough to realize I really didn't want to see the end. Pity, that....I'd have been happier seeing none of it and not thinking there was a chance they'd win.

Alexander, to me, seemed like a great idea made into a one hour movie and then stretched into three. Indeed, it did a great job of emphaszing that the events took place over a longer span of time...but I wasn't sure what exactly that span was. Jumping ahead 8 years with only a small voice over explaining past events (which were crucial to the jump) confused me greatly. I mean, how did Alexander go from being banished to leading a huge-ass army? I'm sure they told me in the breif voice-over, I just got confused. Regardless, they should have explained that bit better. As Scott said, the first battle scene was excellent. I only wish they'd explained more the significance of the tactics...Alexander was a military genius and in that particular battle I left feeling he'd taken a dumb risk and almost lost...when in reality, he routed his foes completely, failing only to kill the opposing king. Furthermore, they omited two of Alexander's most famous battles, instead choosing to show more of his failures and marches. Perhaps the budget/time frame was too low to allow more battle scenes. In their defence, the filmography was stunning, especially the shots of Babylon. I felt I was really there and kept wondering why we can't build such beautiful cities ourselves.

I'm not sure how I'd rank it...I think its a film worth seeing at Valley if you've got three bucks and three hours to kill, but nowhere near best film of the year. At the same time, it wasn't trash either. A great idea gone slightly awry, perhaps. And excellent acting.

I'm personally looking forward to busting next month's allowance on movies, starting with Kinsey and Closer next weekend, Meet the Faulkers sometime after, and there's at least two movies opening on/right before Christmas that I must see. Maybe I'll organize a trip to Century christmas day for a double header, or maybe the day after. Depends on my travel schedule this year.

-JB

Scott said...

Hey, if you're gonna organize anything around Christmas, don't do it ON Christmas. Christmas is a day for playing with the new toys (read: throwing in as many DVDs in one day as possible), plus the family does a TON that day (and, believe it or not, night).

However, there is a now-yearly tradition of me and my brother seeing a movie with the Bauer kids. This year, we'll be going to "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou," so if anyone wants to join for that, feel free. If not, I'm sure I'll see it more than once, so don't leave me out if you do.

But yeah...any trips to the theater for two or more movies...let's do that another day, when we're not all psyched to no end about the new stuff.