Director Oliver Stone chalks up an ambitious entry on his biopic résumé (past entries include films about Jim Morrison, Richard Nixon, and JFK, among others) with this cinematic treatise on the life of the mighty Alexander the Great. Despite his early death at 32, Alexander packed some unimaginable conquests into his limited years, ruling over a huge chunk of the globe. Stone draws on a voice-over narration provided by Anthony Hopkins, in the character of Ptolemy, one of Alexander's generals, to describe some of the battles. Thus, Stone shifts the weight of the film to focus on the personality of Alexander (Colin Farrell), a man who is stricken by overwhelming personal insecurities that contrast with his bold achievements. Complex dealings with his mother (Angelina Jolie) and father (Val Kilmer) plague him, as does his turbulent relationship with his wife, Roxane (Rosario Dawson). His connection with his best friend, Hephaestion (Jared Leto), is ambiguous, with Stone touching on their vaunted homosexuality via some shared tender moments. As these personal battles are played out, Ptolemy fills the historic gaps in the narrative by charting the conflicts that raged at Alexander's behest. Eventually, Stone lets loose with an epic on-screen battle, which sees Alexander's troops rumble across India in another country-conquering quest. But while his minions struggle, and Alexander demands success, it becomes clear that he is his own worst enemy, with his only real threat coming from a tempestuous struggle with his own ego. Stone's summation of the great leader paints a picture of an embittered and solitary figure who was able to rule everyone but himself.
This extended version of Stone's movie includes an additional 45 minutes of footage, all restored by the director himself.
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