You want to know how to make Oliver Stone’s 2007 epic “final cut” of 2005’s Alexander even better?
Well, lacking the technology to digitally replace Angelina Jolie, the method I use to make it better is to watch the Japanese animated series Alexander Senki (Reign: The Conqueror in the U$ — to avoid confusion, I’ll call it “Reign” through this post) first.
The thing about Reign is that… it’s weird. Yes, I know, it’s a Japanese cartoon drawn by that dude behind Aeon Flux, but that only hints at how weird this series is. While Stone took his liberties and glossing-overs with Alexander to make for a better story, so did the Japanese production team behind Reign obviously did their research as an outline of “Alexander facts” have been juxtaposed with “Alexander lore” from The Greats contemporaries, biographers, detractors, etc…. But what makes Reign so weird is the almost “hyper-legendary” liberties taken — things that are so impossiblely weird for Alexander’s time or now or even basic laws of physics.
The Olympias in Alexander was reasonably realistic, all things considered. The common “lore” that she was some kind of sorceress has been tempered down to Dionysian cultist and, as one who grew up with parents who acknowledged me as a “gifted” child, I honestly see her sometimes-kooky reverence for her son as existing within a believable realm. But in Reign, she’s an outright crazed “snake witch” who gives birth one month premature in a pool of water with an impossibly massive constrictor wrapped around her body and sending her into orgasm.
And that’s not even touching on the Pythagorean Ninjas. Yes, I’m serious.
Now, Reign can, and should, be given pass because it’s a sci-fi epic and “the known world” in Reign, well, really is the whole world, as it appears at the beginning of the first episode to be floating, unattached, in space, all Dark City-style. And like I said, Pythagorean ninjas. This isn’t a biopic; this is essentially its own story using names and a loose interpretation of an historical outline for the plot.
…but it’s also just weird enough that I can’t bring myself to calling it “good”. It’s decent-enough; it’s well-done, for what it is. On the other hand, I’m too familiar with the history it pays tribute to consider it much more than a splendiferous pyrotechnic display of weird.
…and in comparison, that makes Stone’s Alexander look like Alexander, or at least Ptolemy himself was the story consultant. What it fudges up from ancient biographical accounts of Alexander the Great were honestly only done out of decent story telling. The casting may have needed a little work (even outside of my opinion of Angelina Jolie, I think Colin Farrell could have either himself done better, or a better actor could have been cast, but overall, he did it decently enough to be enjoyable. Hell, even the direction could have used a little work, but overall, it’s an enjoyable watch and respectful of the history it pays tribute.