This is the version of the film that should have been released all along.
Paltry extra features.
Alexander Revisited: The Final Cut is a highly in-depth, 214 minute look at this complex conqueror who is embodied with ferocity by Colin Farrell. Opening with Alexander's army conquering Babylon, we are treated to a long, almost sermon-like speech as this great warrior gets his troops ready for battle. Once this commences, director Oliver Stone seems to be reveling in the fact that he can now show us this film in the unencumbered fashion that he had originally intended. Once this battle is done, we see Alexander at he can be.
Mixed in within this footage are scenes of Alexander as a young boy. Paramount in all of this is his relationships with his mother Olympias (Angelina Jolie) and father Philip (Val Kilmer). It seems that the God Zeus was the one responsible for giving Olympias her child, and because of this Philip never seems to take Alexander as own. This clouds all of their relationships and it almost seems like when the older Alexander conquers various parts of the world, he is trying to attain the love that his father never gave him. Showered with riches, women (and men; a fact that this film doesn't shy away from), and an army of devoted soldiers, it only makes sense that Alexander would begin to rankle the high commanders under him. Having attained such vast spoils, they too start wondering how much is enough?
Amidst all of this are the relationships Alexander has with the people closest to him like his wife Roxane (Rosario Dawson) and Hephaistion (Jared Leto), all of which seem to give Alexander something he needs but they never quite fulfill him. Even he doesn't seem cognizant of what he truly hopes to capture, and some times his brilliance in battle and with people seems to be simply instinctual. He merged cultures, histories and everything else as this great warrior set about conquering the world around him.
This film is presented here as Alexander Revisited: The Final Cut. The battle scenes are allowed to linger, the violence is presented in all it's glory, and the controversial aspects of the film are each allowed their moments to breath and inform this complex character. Oliver Stone was left to his own devices in re-editing this film and I must say, I think he has actually created a movie that could alter history's perception of what Alexander ultimately was.
All New Introduction by Oliver Stone
This is a 5-10 minute segment that is available on the first disc, and it is essentially Stone explaining to the fans why they have been asked to buy this film so many times. One thing I noticed as Stone talked was how genuinely happy he seems to be with this cut of the film. He breaks down the changes that he made and he really seems grateful that Warner Bros. has given him the freedom to go back and revisit this film again. Ultimately, he seems like a director who has finally gotten to tell his cinematic side of the story. He also explains how this version of the film has an intermission, much like many of the older epics did. There's something charming when even he concedes that 214 minutes is a lot to ask of any viewer to sit through at one time. In light of everything that happened with this movie, one has to wonder if maybe it shouldn't have come out on DVD to begin with?
Widescreen Version. Presented in a "letterbox" widescreen format preserving the "scope" aspect ratio of it's original theatrical exhibition. Enhanced for widescreen TVs. Given to us on two discs this film was compressed very nicely. While one will never know what shots are real and what are CGI enhanced, it is fair to say that this movie looks beautiful. It is so big in scope that in a lot of ways it looks and feels as if it is from another time. Also, Stone has restrained from utilizing a lot of his usually imagery, and surprisingly presents the scenes in a very straight forward manner. I never felt like I was being beaten over the head with ideas, and I think that putting this film on two discs makes it play strongly as almost two separate sections.
Dolby Digital. English: Dolby Surround 5.1. I chose to eschew my small one speaker TV, and instead I watched this film on a large set with a surround sound system. Aside from having to severely adjust the volume between the battle scenes and the quieter moments, I was impressed with this film's audio. Also, every scene is long enough to make the audio transitions not seem as drastic. One can only wonder the amount of time and work that was put in to bring this movie to it's final form, but this is one of those epic movies that has put everything on the screen and into your audio experience.
An image of Colin Farrell is the primary picture on this front cover. Almost splashed across his face is a silhouette of an eagle that plays so prominently in the film. The back features three shots. One is of Alexander leading his troops, there is another promo looking shot of Farrell and Rosario Dawson, and there is also a tiny shot of Angelina Jolie. Rather than talk about the movie (I guess they figure if you're buying this version you already know what it's about), they simply praise Oliver Stone as a "brave director," they offer up a Special Features listing, a cast list and technical specs. Both discs in this set are economically stored in one amaray case.
As I am sure you know, Alexander originally came out in a few other versions. If you are unfamiliar please click here to read a story I wrote about it. When I first heard about Alexander Revisited: The Final Cut, I was highly skeptical. Then I was given the job of having to cover the film, and the more I read and thought about Oliver Stone as a director, the more I realized that this version could actually be something to see. DVD has leveled the playing field for a lot of directors. Home video sales drive the industry so much that a movie that may have been originally maligned, like Alexander was when it it came out in 2004, can actually be faithfully revisited and reimagined with the director's hindsight when it comes to DVD.
In all honesty, if you don't like big, epic films then you should probably stay away from this release. Also, Stone has really played around with the narrative. The movie doesn't move in a linear fashion, but I don't think that that is something that will bother viewers. Stone has finally added the weight and depth to this movie that the original versions were lacking. It needs to play long. It needs to play with some idea that when we see Alexander leading his troops, we believe that they would follow him anywhere. I finally got that feeling as I sat watching this movie. All the relationships, the arguments, everything was allowed more time to breath and as such it resonated more. Why the filmmaker and the studio thought this might play better in a shorter form is anybody's guess, but I truthfully feel that Alexander Revisited: The Final Cut will be the version of this movie that is ultimately talked about and celebrated.