Friday, June 17, 2005

Alexander - movie review




There are many people who get their tongues pasted to Oliver Stones posterior... including Roger Ebert have surprisingly not praised this movie sky high. I think that is mainly because they feel that the director was confused as to whether to present this movie as an analysis of Alexander’s character or should more importance be given to the CGI effects and the war sequences which are obviously what sells the movie to gullible peopel who dont know how easy it is to clone ants on adobe premier. The result is a half baked movie that is neither a war movie like ’Gladiator’ nor a subtle masterpiece like Martin Scorcese’s ’Last Temptation of Christ’ .

The director in his urgency to raise controversy and raise a stink among ’’People who support the Green Peace Party and think Alexander is straight club’’... has failed in storytelling and character building.

Also, the entire life of Alexander could not possibly be portrayed in 120 minutes AND do justice to every aspect of life. You tend to get the feeling that OS has bitten off a piece that is bigger than his feet...


OS alwyas has this liking to take up some famous characters/event and give it his own spin as he did with The Doors when he suggested JM did NOT a few ribs removed to facilitate yoga.

While reviewing this movie, I would like to draw parallels with one of Kubricks’s masterpieces called ’’Full Metal Jacket’’ and a Martin Scorcese movie called ’’The last temptation of Christ’’. FMJ follows a company of soldiers through the Vietnam War. This movie is not know for its war sequences as much as it is for its character building and story telling. Some of the characters have attained legend proportions... comparable to that of the real Alexander.Full Metal Jacket, was something like a ’mind fucker’... makes you wonder and reconsider... it plays with an American’s perception of THE WAR... and The Last Temptation of Christ... attaches ’whys and hows’ to the life and death of Jesus Christ... the ’’LORD GOD SAVIOUR’’... the person whose intent if doubted could amount to blasphemy.

In Alexander, to stir up a similar conspiracy, Oliver Stone tries to question.. very suavely,
1. The cause of the murder of Alexander’s father - Mother or Darius?
Many such questions are left unanswered because most of the characters in this movie are ill-defined... ’’almost human’’.. Olympia is shown as clever manipulatitive and hates King Tut with all her heart.. but while Val Kilmer is being shot dead, is it pleasant surprise or happy satisfaction that is seen on her face?

Also, for example, Alexander at time is very unreasonable and at times is the voice of reason. He will willingly do something as foolish as invade India with a tired army and YET cry over the destroyed library in Babylon understanding what it means to the world. He also is not able to decide between purple and green grapes in one sequence.

2. Alexander’s sexual proclivity. - he could be bi-sexual?
There is generally a theory (among behaviour analysts) that guys who grow up with a very strong female presence at home have weirder sexual behaviour (Homos are weird).

Here I think that point is overstressed. The character of Olympia is unnecessarily oversexed in terms of her dialogues and casting, and his loss of interest with Rosario Dawson is too ’’obvious’’... His interest in eunuchs shown in the referred sequences... (Both Rosario Dawson and the Babylonian eunuch perform the seemingly harmless duty of switching off the light before Alexander sleeps... ). You tend to think OS doesnt have the balls to outright say something but is being ’pseudo suave’ while addressing this issue.

3. Why Alexander did what he did - Influenced by a nagging mother?
I have to question the casting of Jolie as his mother. Oliver Stone obviously has other intentions than just the mother son relationship... Alexander’s strongest influence in his childhood turns out to be his mother and she drives him to insanity and excellence. She is also shown to be advicing him to return home before India... wonder why that happens if she had so strongly wanted him to conquer the entire world.

Apart from the above mentioned points, I think the movie is very watchable after retirement. There are some brilliant CGI war effects, lots of bloody visceral flying about and the war with Porus would appeal to you under psychedlic drugs. So if you are going to expect a very normal Hollywood movie, then I dont think you would be dissapointed.

But being an Oliver Stone fan, I was highly dissapointed that he could not raise the interest factor by trying to relate Alexander’s life and death to something that is relevant to the world NOW. If all I wanted was to know was when and where Alexander fought whom and what strategy he followed and what became of him finally, I would much rather read a short article on Alexander on the net. The entertainment value is very high in this movie, but it lacks intellectual appeal. So delete the Oliver Stone aura and watch the movie as you would watch a Vin Diesel movie. I am sure you would like it. I watched the movie in Thamizh because I find English hard to understand and this is what I thought of that flavour.

Why you should watch this movie ONLY in English ?
There are some movies that you can watch, which dont make a big difference if you do so in Thamizh or English. In fact I prefer Thamizh because in English the dialogues are extremely predictable but the Thamizh version keeps you interested...be it Charlie’s Angels calling each other ’va dee’, ’po dee’ or the Caucasian character in ’’Rakshasa Paambugal - Ratha Manjariyin Vetai’’ (Anacondas 2 - The hunt for the Blood Orchid) singing ’’Appadi Podu Podu Podu’’ while steering the boat through the Amazonian Jungle...

Oliver Stone has a very interesting way of presenting things. He firmly believes in the human male’s vulberability during and after the event of sex. That is when the human male is ’himself’ and exposes his ’’OUTSIDE’’ and ’’INSIDE’’ self in its entirity.

It also happens that the censor board in ThamizhNadu has strong objections to showing shots of thin women or men with little or no clothes on... so I would say the soul of the movie... the few minutes after Alexander makes love to Rosario Dawson.. the few moments when he IS being HIMSELF and pours his heart out... has been deprived to the audience. So dont watch this movie in Thamizh or any other native language where the censor board is from the 18nth century... I think you would lose the essence of the movie.

And kids and teenagers.. this movie is not for you anyway... lest you mount a horse and start decapitating people on Grant Road... WESTERN MEDIA DOWN DOWN.

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