Bringing the world to its knees by the tender age of 25, Alexander The Great is among the most compelling heroes of the ancient world. Fuelled by a burning ambition, his story is inherently awe-inspiring, yet in the hands of director Oliver Stone it's reduced to a tawdry sword 'n' sandals puppet show. As the titular conqueror, Colin Farrell shows the limit of his screen presence as he falters in such big boots and winds up face first in the sand.
Persia is the first country to fall as Alexander marches east, inspired by tales of Achilles and his siege of Troy drip-fed to him by his mother Olympias (Angelina Jolie). She's determined to see him achieve greatness, even if it means dishonouring her husband King Philip of Macedonia (Val Kilmer).
Spreading Greek civilisation through central Asia, Alexander sees grand aspirations realised while his marriage to the "barbarian" Roxane (Rosario Dawson) cements his image as a unifier of races. But while the empire grows, his mood darkens and, having compromised the love of childhood friend Hephaistion (Jared Leto), he's growing into the tyrant he swore he'd never become.
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Although the battles are impressively staged (the sight of Alexander's horse rearing up against an elephant is breathtaking), they roll together without gathering momentum. Where Wolfgang Petersen remoulded ancient myths to preserve their essence in Troy, Stone rigidly adheres to historical document and bleeds the legend dry. That's when he's not speculating about the bond between Alexander and Hephaistion, which culminates in a scene rivalling Monty Python for surreal levels of farce.
Kilmer's and Leto's Irish accents (adopted presumably to make Farrell less conspicuous) thicken the air of absurdity, as does Jolie's portrayal of Olympias as a smacked-up cross between Morticia Adams and Medusa, eyes goggling as snakes writhe around her. With its epic heights of pantomime silliness, Alexander will grate on your nerves.