Starring Colin Farrell, Angelina Jolie, Anthony Hopkins, and Val Kilmer. Rated 14A

The first thing that needs to be said about Alexander is that it is really four movies in one: the first is a cinephilic précis of every wide-screen epic from Cabiria to Lord of the Rings; the second is a 1950s-style family melodrama in which the hero's motivations are treated to a Freudian bloodbath; the third is an extremely weird political allegory in which Philip of Macedon is George Bush, Alexander is George Dubya, and Persia's King Porus is Saddam Hussein; and the fourth is a relatively straightforward historical biopic.

Somewhat surprisingly, there are only two major battle scenes, and these are primarily influenced by the battle-on-the-ice set piece in Alexander Nevsky, while the too-quick-to-barf carnage follows Gladiator's cut-on-slice editing. Alexander's identification with an eagle flaps straight out of Abel Gance's Napoléon.

The Gance connection is most interesting. Napoléon, after all, was a celebration of warfare in the past by a man who built his reputation on hatred of warfare in the present in his earlier feature, J'Accuse. In a similar vein, Stone first caught the public's eye with Platoon, not exactly a recruiting sergeant's dream come true, and here he is making a hero out of Europe's first true imperialist.

The Freudian story also seems to hark back to the charges of misogyny that have dogged Stone throughout his career. Angelina Jolie, who plays Alexander's mother, Olympias, is not only treated like a murderous witch, she is virtually always photographed in the company of snakes. Her blue-eyed boy's first wife (Rosario Dawson) proves to be equally treacherous, and all the other women are basically set ornaments. And the film's acceptance of Greek homosexuality is entirely relegated to manly hugs, with all the sodomy occurring off-screen, while Alexander's wedding night is female full-frontal.

As if all this weren't enough, we have what would seem to be an apologia for the latest Gulf War. The catch is that Alexander is depicted as the ballsiest man of his generation with a vision of the future that seems to owe more to Ralph Nader and Noam Chomsky than it does to Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney.

Even now we have not exhausted the film's oddities. Although one can hardly blame Stone for not writing dialogue in actual ancient Greek and Persian, the accents he chose are more than a little disorienting. Like star Colin Farrell, all the Macedonians speak English with an Irish accent, the single Epiriote sounds Hungarian, and the Persians speak like Natasha from The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.

Perhaps most amazing of all, Val Kilmer, as Philip, manages to outact Christopher Plummer (Aristotle) and Anthony Hopkins (Ptolemy), a fact that would be even more surprising if it hadn't taken place in the most jaw-droppingly over-the-top film of the year.