Behold Oliver Stone, the eighth wonder of DVD: a filmmaker who turns out a director’s cut of Alexander shorter than his original theatrical version. But while eight minutes have been snipped from the wayward epic, rumors that the Macedonian conqueror would emerge miraculously hetero prove unfounded. Jared Leto’s Hephaistion is still here and still making such lambent puppy eyes that you half expect Mel Gibson to barge in and throw him out the window.
No, as Stone himself explains in his painstakingly informative/discursive/batty commentary, the intent was to restructure Alexander so that the hero’s fraught Greek childhood with battling parents Philip (Val Kilmer) and Olympias (Angelina Jolie) runs more clearly in parallel with his later conquests of Babylon and on and on. But for all the rejiggering, the film remains stymied by creeping inertia — it’s a rock-star saga like The Doors, with early brilliance followed by a long, attenuated twilight of sycophants and failed comebacks, and it’s hard to deny that Colin Farrell’s petulant approach is simply the wrong one.
What entertainment is to be found in Alexander is mostly Stone, whether he’s waxing defensive in the commentary (”Maybe in another time and place we’ll have a fair treatment of eunuchs”) or leading his production troops into the fray in disc 2’s three-part making-of (compiled by Stone’s son Sean) — a more illuminating look into expertly mounted folly than the film itself. ”Perfect is the enemy of good” was a motto bandied about the set. By that logic, Stone has indeed achieved perfection.