Napoleon is the latest blockbuster film coming out of the Apple studio machine, with highly acclaimed director Ridley Scott at the helm. The masterful director who gave us Alien, Blade Runner, American Gangster, and Thelma & Louise isn’t slowing down, delivering a 2-and-a-half-hour epic at the age of 85, with a four-hour cut coming to Apple TV+ post-theatrical release. Sadly, the movie falls under the untapped potential category and is a greatly missed opportunity for a well-thought-out character study.

Napoleon stars 2020 Oscar winner Joaquin Phoenix as Napoleon Bonaparte and Mission Impossible actress Vanessa Kirby as his wife, Josephine de Beauharnais. The acting performances from the duo are quite charming as Phoenix truly embodies the cold, calculated side of Napoleon and showcases the maniacal tyranny exercised by the dictator. On the other hand, Kirby’s melancholic portrayal of Josephine feels surreal and is indeed, very powerful in this epic love tale. The other cast members do a great job behaving like soldiers and other high-ranking officials as they showcase the bureaucratic and revolutionary state France was in.

 

The cinematography and sound of the film is one of Ridley Scott’s finest. Some of the best-looking scenes of the film are unsurprisingly the battle scenes and the bleak, gritty nature they possess makes them jaw-dropping spectacles to view. The sound of the cannons hitting the frozen ice is a masterpiece in sound design and should be an example for future epics. This is a testament to the mastery of Ridley Scott and his level of focus and attention to detail. It is this level of care that makes important battle scenes feel visceral and groundbreaking.

 

 

 

A flaw with the film is the screenplay. David Scarpa creates a screenplay that is very dynamic and snappy, but the comedic, satirical pieces of dialogue feel out of place in a film telling a grand story of conquest and tyranny. Also, a small issue in the film would be the lack of French actors or French accents present. A film about France’s most prolific man does need that added authenticity to draw you to the story and immerse yourself into his world.

Overall, this film is very good and worth a watch due to the great acting of Joaquin Phoenix and Vanessa Kirby and the great look Ridley Scott applies to this picture but the screenplay could have been worked out better and made to be more serious and compelling as a character study. Knowing who Napoleon was and what his motives were would have made the film feel fresh and new.

 

“History is the version of past events that people have decided to agree upon”. – Napoleon Bonaparte

 

Available 22nd November in theatres.

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