Disclaimer: I can't spell a single one of these names, even if I do actually know what they are. Creative reinterpretation of names will await you as you read on.
Those with the following phobias need not apply to this movie for entertainment: fear of snakes, fear of flashbacks, fear of eight year time intervals, and those who have a fear of a lack of segues. Also, fear of Anthony Hopkins puffy-making face lift is a factor.
Now, here's the thing about this movie. When you walk through the door, you need to be aware of the fact that you are not holding in your hot little hand a ticket to intellectual stimulation, and never-ending literary titillation. You're going to see Alexander, which could in many ways also function as a basic primer on the Oedipal complex.
See Angelina Jolie. See her being so hot you could just fall over and die. See her son noticing that. See all of the weird people wandering around without eyes. See all the ways the movie keeps talking about Oedipus.
What, was that too subtle? Let me BEAT YOU WITH IT UNTIL YOU PASS OUT.
But more on that later. First, we're going to get a couple of things out of the way. 1) Alexander's hair. All that can really be said about it is that covers his scalp fairly well. 2) Macedonia is, apparently, a sekrit Mini-Ireland, to judge by the native accent. Who knew? 3) Hephastion and Alexander do not, in fact, kiss on screen. The hug thing is a little weird, but, you know, whatever. Their love was big and it was gay, and it had lots, and lots of eyeliner.
Or, at least it did when it was in Asia.
See, this movie has a weird thing with eyeliner -- you don't see any men in eyeliner until you see the Persian army. And when you see them, you're like "Oh, holy shit, someone totally fell asleep without removing his make up" because the lines around their eyes are heavy and dark.
But as the Macedonians enter Babylon, it seems that they, too, learn the beauty of make-up. The farther east they go, in fact, the more prone they are to slather on a little kohl in the morning before conquering the world. One of the characters even comments on it -- Clytus? Cletus? Clark? What? -- saying "Look at our, pretty, pretty army", but to that I say "Hey man, you've got racoon eyes yourself so just shut your big trap about it, General Kill Joy Cletus-Clark-Face."
But I digress.
By the time they're in Afghanistan and Alexander's marrying his little black panther (that's her animal totem, the cinematography would have us believe) wifey Roxana, Hephastion looks so goth you expect him to say something like, "My love for you makes my cry tears of blood as my soul shatters in the darkest night."
The fact that he doesn't is part of why I like this movie so much.
Okay, so this movie is literally about -- and when I say literally I legitimately mean it and am not just wantonly misusing the word as I am so prone to do -- Alexander's Oedipal complex and his love for Hephastion. The movie is *framed* by his love for Hephastion.
The fact that the man-on-man onscreen kiss goes to Alexander and his Perpetually Shirtless Androgynous Persian Bitchboy Sexslave Manperson who dances the Dance of Being Rilly Flexible And Totally Hot for Alexander is a little weird, but you know, it sort of advances a -- plot point? I guess? I don't know or really care what the plot of this movie is, so you'd have to ask someone else what exactly the death of General Kill Joy Cletus-Clark-Face is in terms of story arc.
So, okay. Alexander's parents are like this:
Mom = terminally hot sorceress wrapped in wriggling phallic snakes as she lounges about with her clothes falling tantalizingly open to show her long tan legs. This lady's got an agenda, but who even *cares* what it is, man? Let her do what she wants. She's just that hot. Also, she loves her son. I mean -- she really loves him. She says it a lot, and I believe her.
Dad = jack ass frat boy who proves weirdly jocular and likable, and hints at a deep wealth of melancholy under his crunchy surface. I mean, sure, he kind of tries to rape Angelina Jolie on top of a baaaaaby Alexander in the very begining -- but the last thing he says, essentially is "I want people to like me" which made me go "aww" because I am, in fact, Just That Easy. Plus he and his son spend quality father-son time in a water filled cave talking about Medea and Oedipus and Prometheus and Achilles and Heracles and he makes it clear that he lives a Tragic Life.
I give leave to doubt the Tragedy of his life; he's king, and he's married to Angelina Jolie. Get over it, dude.
Anyway, those mythic figures I just mentioned? They're kind of important. I think it breaks down like this:
Medea = Would Olympias hurt her own CHILD!?? *gasp* Answer: Nope. But Phillip of Macedonia would totally like his son to believe that, so that Alexander will be -- I don't know. Something. More like him? *scratches head* I'm unsure as to why that's desirable, but, okay. That's what he wants. The only real parallel is the witch thing, which, naturally, only adds to how goddamned HOT Olympias is. (I fixate. I know this.)
Heracles = Alexander. There's a thing with him and lions, and then he goes off at someone about how he sekritely is better than Heracles. Also, Zeus is supposedly both is the father of both -- so it's like they're cousins.
Achilles = This is so sweet I could die. Alexander and Hephastion joke about being Achilles and Patroclus all the time, and talk about how much they love each other and how they wouldn't be able to live without the other one, and you know, it proves true. Also, they're just really cute and in love, for real. God I love this movie, did I say that? Also, Jared Leto's eyes are pretty.
Oedipus = There's a time where Alexander and Olympias kiss, and I swear to you, tongue is involved. Also, Alexander's whole life is an attempt to conquer his fear of his father in order to emulate him so that Alexander can distance himself from his desire to fuck his mother silly. Instead, he marries a woman he calls a "pale shadow" of his mother, and you can't really tell if he wants her to be *more* like his mother or *less*. And, PS, the sex scene between Alexander and Roxana is hot and all but --
Dear Colin Farrel, please stop it with the biting of the air as if you were a giant cat. You're not. This is made clear by the fact that you are a biped, and do not have retractable claws or a swishy tail.
aaand Prometheus = who. the. fuck. knows. I think supposedly Alexander is bringing light to the people, but he seems to be bringing it in the shape of a huge conquering army, which is maybe a little different than the gift of fire in my opinion. The movie has a thing about Prometheus that isn't fully explained, but that doesn't matter.
And I'll tell you why it doesn't matter: this movie is not about things being fully explained or not explained. This movie is about how BUGFUCK SHITHOUSE LOCO Alexander is. Also, how gay he is.
Alexander is very, very sensitive. This is something perhaps not noted in many history texts, but the movie makes it clear. He weeps, copiously, in a deep-seated amounts of man-pain.
He also has WILD CRAZY EYES and does deeply, deeply insane things. Like taking on an elephant while he's riding a horse. This is in India -- which is apparently the Land of Crazy Cinematography. Alexander says something like, "We drank the strong wine there" and it's like, "Oh, so *that*'s why everything is suddenly on grainy film with a quiet techno backbeat. Got it."
Oh, and before I forget -- the music of this movie? Deeply hilarious. It's like...what they put on in the background on self-help tapes like Six Days to a Better Bouffant or You Deserve Prada, Now Go Out and Get it.
So, in addition to parents and a way hot boyfriend, Alexander also has generals. These generals are important, though the amount of lines they have would not lead you to believe that they are. Also, they're all way fuckin' hot. I mean, I'm just sayin' -- I'd totally do 'em. Except for the old guy and the guy without an eye and the guy with the weird teeth. Even General Kill Joy Cletus-Clark-Face is kind of hot.
In fact, there's one guy -- Prodicus? Pridicus? Prince? Who even knows? -- who just really needs to call me. He's working a very appealing blond and sunburned way of being.
Anyway. So there are these other generals, and one of these generals has a son. This son is the actor who played Warley in Master & Commander, which probably impresses no one as much as it did me, because I fell in love with poor doomed Warley and am eminently fascinated with him. He had lines, and a part, and everything. *pinches his adorable ex-Warley cheek*
And, then, there's Ptolomy and Kassander. Ptolemy is -- well, he's the narrator, in addition to having the distinction of being Most Pretentious Character. I don't know what it is; maybe his voice? The way it attempts to be Sonorous and Distinct but is really a bad Anthony Hopkins impression gets on my nerves a bit, but I love him anyway. Why do I love him, you ask?
Because he's in this movie. And I can't stress enough how much I love this movie.
Ahh, Kassander. I don't think that's actually his name, really, but it's what I've chosen to call him. Anyway, he's got a deal that is not explained, but he's Jonathan Rhys Meyers, so who even cares? He's jealous of something -- what, no one knows. Is it Alexander's early nineties surfer hair cut? Is it Hephastion's ability to have sexual tension with Alexander while explaining that monkeys are, in fact, animals?
The answer is: who cares! It's not important! What's important is that he keep slouching around, sylph-like and beautiful with his chestnut hair gorgeously around his face!
Apparently, Kassander destroys Alexander's empire after Alexander dies, and kills his mom, wife, and son. So, you know, he's a bitch. But that's no surprise to me -- he's like the male Macedonian version of Regina George from Mean Girls. Except, I feel that Regina George would have made a damned fine ruler of a massive empire, so maybe he's distracted by his own flowing locks or something for just long enough to lose his grip on the vast tracts of land under his control.
It's fine -- I mean, I can see how that would happen.
There are some other dudes too, but they are not important enough for me to remember, and ergo will be referred to as Skippy, Dopey and Jack if I ever refer to them again, which I doubt.
So, if there were to be a plot, the plot would be that Alexander, you know, conquers the world and attempts to unite the West and the East and stuff.
In the course of this, he goes through Afghanistan, and Roxana dances for him and a jungle cat screams and so this weird guy who wears a lot of foundation somehow psychically knows that she's in love with Alexander, so then he marries her and pisses everyone off a lot.
Hephastion drinks deeply, and they both cry, and it's very touching and Hephastion gives Alexander a ring and then I die. I just die. Then there's a weird sex scene with Roxana and Alexander, and it's hot but *shrugs*. Whatever. The point is, that Alexander makes his men march and march and march, and they want to go HOME, dammit, HOME. When they tell him this in India, he freaks out, and says -- I'm not kidding -- "FINE! I'LL GO ON WITH MY ASIANS!"
Except, then he kills a lot of them, which is maybe not the best way to go about solidifying support with the troops.
But it's hilarious. It sure is hilarious. And why? Because Alexander is just. plain. nuts.
So, anyway, these guys have been marching forever, and you've been watching this movie for about two and half hours now. They're tired, you're tired, it's a whole big tired thing. You're not tired becuase you don't like the movie though -- and by you I mean me -- you're tired because, man, they sure have walked a long way.
Then there's that big battle scene with elephants, and India being crazy cinematography land, and Hepastion's groin getting injured, and the deeply, deeply upsetting severing of an elephant's trunk and the proof that Alexander's horse is, in fact, the coolest horse this side of Mr. Ed as it gives it's life for Alexander.
In fact, let's just have us a moment of silence for that horse. *twitches and waits for moment to pass*
Okay, so, anyway, then they go back to Babylon and Hephastion dies and it's really sad and it, naturally, prompts Alexander to -- what was that? Did someone in the back say weep and go apeshit?
Very good. You've been paying attention!
So he does a thing where he attacks his wife and is weirdly like his dad attacking his mom, or at least in his head he is, but the thing is this: as Hephastion dies, Alexander lists all of these other places he's going to go conquer in a few months.
And you, sitting in the audience, think, "No! No! You can't do that! You just -- Goddamnit, Alexander, I can't go back on the march with you!"
So you know exactly how the generals feel, and when they poison him, you're down with it. You're down with it because, he's crazy. He's just crazy, and you're not ready to follow him through hell again -- it was years, man. Years.
Also, Alexander clearly wants to die becuase Hephastion isn't alive anymore and you, like even Hephastion himself, worry for an Alexander without Hephastion. See, with H-y boy dead, the only person who can even *remotely* bring Alexander away from the Bad Place is the Perpetually Shirtless Androgynous Persian Bitchboy Sexslave Manperson. And he doesn't get any *lines*, so you don't feel like it'll go well on campaign.
So, yeah. When Alexander dies, you're down with it. You love him, sure, but you love *you* more. And that's as it should be, as he's fictional.
Also, may I just say? The way you know that Alexander knows that he is drinking poison is because his mother's face appears in his wine, with snakes coming out of her head. I make no judgment, Oliver Stone, we all do exceedingly silly things sometimes, but -- a disembodied floating head with snakes coming out of it in a glass of wine is *not* the best way to show me a serious portent. Keep that in mind, in future.
And then you get to see Angelina Jolie again, which is good. She cries because a snake kills a hawk, and so she knows her son is dead, which vaguely implies that she killed him as she is the only person for whom snake imagery has been used, but you know that she wouldn't kill her son, becuase she REALLY loves him.
Also, she falls to the ground and screams out her misery at his death, and Ptolemy admits to the murder. He says that they had to, because Alexander exhausted them, and then goes on to justify it more, and I just wanted to pet his little forehead and say "It's okay, man. I'm right there with you." Then he makes his manbitch scribe attribute the death to a fever, and that is finally that.
This movie is fun. It's huge, massive quantitities of fun. It isn't Gladiator, and I like that about it. It requires a great deal less of me as a viewer. And it isn't Troy either, as evidenced by the fact that it didn't make me want to claw my own face off just to distract me from what was happening on screen.
It's like the bastard love child of Gladiator and Velvet Goldmine, with a little bit of CRAZY thrown in for fun. Mix well, and simmer for an hour, then serve with croutons.