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Alexan-dreck: Oliver Stone's Alexander may be bi-inclusive, but it's still a staggering disaster.

Alexander * Written by Oliver Stone, Christopher Kyle, and Laeta Kalogridis * Directed by Oliver Stone * Starring Colin Farrell, Angelina Jolie, Val Kilmer, Anthony Hopkins * Warner Bros.

Alas, Alexander is anything but great. Were it to contain a few more dance numbers (the film already has two) or a few more unintentional laughs (the film already has several), Stone's portrait of the 25-year-old who conquered the known world might at least rank as a camp classic. As it is, gay audiences will probably remember the film most for a line of Anthony Hopkins's narration following a boyhood wrestling match where Hephaistion bested Alexander: "It was said later that Alexander was never beaten, except by Hephaistion's thighs." Yow!

Pity poor Hopkins, who as Ptolemy is given pages and pages and pages of exposition to fill in the many dead spaces of the film--one wonders how much of this narration was cooked up in the editing room to patch over scenes that had to be rejected. If you've ever thought to yourself, Anthony Hopkins is such a great actor, I'd listen to him read the phone book, here's your chance.

For the last few years, queer pundits and critics wondered how gay Alexander would be. The answer is: gayer than you'd imagine for a big Hollywood action epic. Alexander and lifelong pal Hephaistion (Jared Leto) make a lot of goo-goo eyes at each other and talk a lot about the love of warriors Achilles and Patroclus. (Since that love was left out of the Brad Pitt version of Greek history earlier this year, Alexander at least scores points on the "Eat it, Troy!" scale.) While Alexander marries and beds the fiery Roxane (Rosario Dawson), he's soon leaving her to sleep alone while he spends nights with Persian eunuch Bagoas (Francisco Bosch), whom Alexander later kisses in front of his officers after the eunuch performs a particularly erotic dance. It's worth noting that the one ass shot we get from Farrell comes when he's in bed with Bosch rather than with Dawson.

So Alexander doesn't shy away from the story's queer content. It's still a mess. Most of the hero's Great-ness takes place offscreen, although we do get two battle sequences that are gory and incomprehensible in the way that only Oliver Stone can do.

The actors don't help much by presenting a crazy sea of accents: Farrell tones down his normal Irish brogue, but Leto speaks like he's in a movie about the IRA and "the troubles." (He also sports eyeliner and floppy hair in one scene that make him a double for Avril Lavigne.) Val Kilmer, hamming it up madly, also serves up a faint taste of Lucky Charms. The flat-out worst performance has to be Angelina Jolie's, as she vamps around handling snakes and speaking in a Russian accent that's pure Natasha of Rocky and Bullwinkle. Maybe she thought this was a movie about Catherine the Great.

While it's worth applauding Alexander for not making its legendary hero 100% hetero, there's nothing else to recommend about this stilted, tedious epic. Instead of asking "Will it be gay enough?" perhaps the gay media should have been asking "Will it be any good?"

If you're interested in the life story of a bisexual who changed history, check out Kinsey; if you want to see an exciting movie about heroism, go see The Incredibles. And for campy chuckles, there's always that Showgirls VIP Edition box set.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:film review
Author:Duralde, Alonso
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Article Type:Movie Review
Date:Dec 21, 2004
Words:571
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