Movie Reviews

bellview--i love movies

Home | Movie Reviews | Video Roundups | Essays | Game Reviews | Subscribe | Mailbag | About | Search

Movie Awards
2004 Roundup
2005 Roundup
2006 Roundup
2007 Roundup
2008 Roundup
2009 Roundup



Directed by Oliver Stone.
Written by Oliver Stone, Christopher Kyle and Laeta Kalogridis.
Starring Colin Farrell, Angelina Jolie, Val Kilmer and Jared Leto.
Release Year:  2004
Review Date:  11/29/04


Another swords and skirts adventure?  Hey, I'm a sucker for bloody ol' war epics, so I signed up for "Alexander" tonight and man...I blew it.

A tale of Alexander the Great's run through Asia in...well, sometime before the birth of Christ, Alexander (Colin Farrell) rises from illegitimate heir to the Greek throne to world conqueror status thanks to some land grabs in Persia and then India.  In between, he kills a shitload of people, tries to get over the psychological impact his crazy mom Olympias (Angelina Jolie) had on him, and mates with a common dancer (Rosario Dawson) while trying to fend off assassination attempts and coup plots from within his own gang of politicos and military types.  And, did I mention that Alexander seems to have, in the great words of Ryan "Always Bet On" Black, an extreme case of "the gay"???

Here's what great about "Alexander":  it is a beautiful looking production, especially on a digital projector (yeah, I got lucky).

Here's what's not great about "Alexander":  every single other thing about this fucking movie.

Now, let's not discount the look of this thing--man, "Alexander" sure LOOKS like it cost the $150 million folks are talking about, because from the sets, to the special effects, to the actors, everything does look quite good and no one should even start to argue this point.  Truly breathtaking, looks-wise.  But, how did the great Oliver Stone come up with a movie that was so bad?  I don't even know where to begin.

Colin Farrell.  From his look to that hair to his line delivery, Farrell just isn't right for this part.  I could never place a finger on exactly why--although he occasionally seems to deliver his lines with the emotional strength of David Duchovny--but I never fully believed that soldiers would follow this man into any battle anywhere in the world.

The script.  Man, who makes three-hour adventures with only two major action scenes?  Man, who scripted this supposedly 2000-year-old dialogue like guys were talking a hundred years ago?  Man, why was I squirming in my chair waiting for this film to end for almost an hour???  "Alexander" also seems to need better editors, because this thing was hemorrhaging in places all over the map...ugh.

Homoerotic themes.  Here's my thing about painting a picture of Alexander as reasonably-gay soldier:  Stone seems to spend so much time giving us is-he-or-isn't-he scenes that I was actually just hoping Alexander would just BE GAY ALREADY, rather than giving us literally seven scenes where Alexander is mentally undressing the ambiguously-male servant that always gives Alexander his baths.  I mean, I really just wanted Stone to give in and say, "You know what, folks, okay.  Alexander was gay.  In the next scene, the male servant and the Great One are going to do the nasty.  So there."  Each time we got another one of these scenes I was just sitting there like "ENOUGH ALREADY!!!"

Only two action scenes...and two not very good ones at that.  Man, if I have to suffer through another "rain of arrows" shot in a swords-and-skirts movie, I might have to kill myself.  The action scenes we do get are only cool when we get to watch people trying to fight against armored elephants.  Otherwise, all dogshit.

Not enough Rosario Dawson.  Man, Dawson is hot...but, she is mostly second-fiddlin' it for "Alexander" and I was not happy about this.  In general, not enough women to keep the Daddy happy here.  Even Jolie wasn't much of a turn-on here.

Seriously, the only thing saving "Alexander" from Hard Vice status is its look.  Otherwise, this is a surprisingly bad movie.

Rating:  Rental


Comments?  Drop me a line at


Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

Home | Movie Reviews | Video Roundups | Essays | Game Reviews | Subscribe | Mailbag | About | Search

The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09