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Alexander Revisited: The Final Cut
DVD - Two-Disc Special Edition
Warner Home Video 114351 - Region 1
List Price: $24.98 (Check Price at Amazon.com)
Available on DVD 2/27/2007
Dolby Digital 5.1
Oliver Stone's version of the story of Alexander the Great came out in 2004 to a tepid response. It opened in sixth place and some people were not thrilled with the idea of Colin Farrell playing Alexander. One could argue that the subject is difficult to cover in such a way as to make it attractive to mainstream audiences and to satisfy the historical enthusiasts who would scream the loudest if any inconsistencies appear or liberties taken. The way it was, the movie opened to criticism about some of the scenes depicting Alexander's supposed sexuality issues.
Two versions of the movie were released on DVD the following year, the theatrical version with some extras on a 2-disc set, and a "director's cut" that was shorter than the theatrical version with the same extras as the theatrical version on the second disc.
Apparently, Stone wasn't happy with the job he'd done on the Director's Cut, and wanted to take one final shot at releasing the movie with "Alexander Revisited: The Final Cut." This is a 2-disc set that contains 45 minutes of additional footage in an unrated edition that spans both discs. Stone provides an introduction to explain his reasons for releasing the movie a third time, and the first disc ends with an intermission slide, evoking other epics which played theatrically with intermissions.
Included with the materials we received was a quote from Stone about this release of the movie:
"Over the last two years I have been able to sort out some of the unanswered questions about this highly complicated and passionate monarch -- questions I failed to answer dramatically enough. This film represents my complete and last version, as it will contain all the essential footage we shot. I don't know how many filmmakers have managed to make three versions of the same film, but I have been fortunate to have the opportunity because of the success of video and DVD sales in the world, and I felt if I didn't do it now, with the energy and memory I still have for the subject, it would never quite be the same again. For me, this is the complete Alexander, the clearest interpretation I can offer."
Not having seen either of the two previous versions, I didn't have any positive or negative feelings about this edition in advance. My biggest challenge was finding 3.5 hours to watch the movie, and I ended up having to break it up into more manageable chunks over the course of a few days.
The video quality was good, but short of spectacular. Given the subject matter, the muted tones through much of the movie are justified, and other scenes, especially those in India, are better.
However, there were never any "wow" moments of cinematography that reached out and grabbed me. Perhaps the upcoming HD DVD/Blu-ray editions will better convey the original material.
My Pioneer DVD player reported an average of a range of bit rates between 5.5-7.5 Mbps during several samples in the movie.
There is plenty going in with this sound mix, especially during the battle scenes. Personally, I would have preferred a stronger surround mix for a more encompassing feeling, but that might have been a little too over the top and tiring, given how many battle scenes there are. Aside from that preference, no distracting problems were heard.
Save for Oliver Stone's introduction on Disc 1, you won't find anything on these two discs besides the movie. Perhaps that is what happens when revisiting a movie on DVD for the third time in two years, but not having seen either of the previous releases, some extras would have been nice.
When a director goes back and changes his original work, it would be nice to get some in-depth explanations of his reasons and the changes that were made. By providing us with that information, it allows the audience to better appreciate the new work and do our own comparisons to the preceding versions. George Lucas should have done this with this reworked versions of the Star Wars movies, as well.
At the very least, the theatrical trailer could have been included to properly frame how the original movie was advertised to audiences. If you're looking for behind-the-scenes materials and director commentary, you'll have to buy or rent one of the previous DVD releases.
I'm a big fan of movies, so I don't mind when a director wants to go back and revisit one of his past movies and tweak it a little. It's one of the advantages that the home video formats provide to them and to us.
Overall, I think the movie was a little hard to follow, and that Colin Farrell's depiction of Alexander was flawed. I'm not sure who could have played the part better, but the man playing "Alexander the Great" was upstaged by Angelina Jolie in every scene in which they were together, and he never exuded the greatness and charisma that could have convinced an army of thousands to follow him across the known world.
Don't just take our word for it, check out these resources for more reviews of the movie and of the DVD.
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