Review: Napoleon

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Title: Napoleon
MPA Rating: R
Director: Ridley Scott
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Vanessa Kirby, Tahar Rahim
Runtime: 2 hr 38 mins

What It Is: A film that tells the tale of a Corsican commander who’d grow to become pehaps the greatest military mind of all time. A leader who helped, despite his selfish intents, reunite a broken France following the Revolution. This small-time soldier, Napoleon Bonaparte (Phoenix) begins his ascension and takes with him a widowed woman as a wife. This widow Josephine (Kirby) might be his greatest opponent. Her…appetites and desires don’t fly well with the public perception her husband is trying to create. All the while he seeks to expand the empire that is France.

What We Think: Man. This is just a disappointment. I was truly TRULY excited for this film. A film about the worlds greatest military leader directed by a director with a great reputation? Count me in! I’m a big fan of Ridley Scott. I love him at his best, and at his best he is an incredible visionary leader behind the lens. The thing is…none of that matters if the film you’re directing has a script (by David Scarpa) that is shallow and way too thin. It shouldn’t be this way for a film with a runtime THIS inflated. 158 minutes and you can’t tell a coherent story on Napoleon? Sure, Ridley’s skill shows through in the Waterloo moment in the film and it sprinkles around in certain places. Vanessa Kirby, for her part, brings a certain sensuality to Josephine even if her and Phoenix offer no visible chemistry. If I were to make a top ten on my most disappointing films of the year this would certainly be at or near the top. I just fail to see how this didn’t work as much as it definitely didn’t work.

Our Grade: C-, What a catastrophe of crap. It isn’t by any means a bad film it’s just very much not a good one. A perfect example of what could’ve been. A film that is mostly hype from a great trailer and never delivered as a whole package. It’s sad really. It could’ve been an absolute epic in the vein of other absolute epics from Ridley Scott. Instead this’ll just get tossed aside as a somewhat visually appealing display from one of Hollywood’s best, inconsistent directors. I say all that to say that this film should’ve been better than it is. A giant disappointment that should be contending for Oscars.

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