I just watched the new Napoleon movie and I’m going to tell you exactly why I thought it was a blast. This is my spoiler free review.
Napoleon is the latest in a string of movies by prestige directors being snapped up by streamers and dropped in theaters to much acclaim. This one is being distributed by Apple TV. Plus, it’s directed by the great Ridley Scott, who’s the man behind so many legendary movies. Some of our favorites include American Gangster, Gladiator, Alien or The Martian Stars, Joaquin Phenix in the title role, and Vanessa Kirby as his love interest, Josephine. Its of course, a period piece, And they lured me in with all the great action and the trailers. It’s about the famed French emperor and military commander, Napoleon, who was around during the 1800s. I won’t go too deep into his history. So do your Googles if you’re interested in that kind of stuff.
The movie’s crux is Napoleon’s love for Josephine and the moments in between the action and those two kept things interesting. This is the second time that I’ve seen Vanessa Kirby in a movie, and she killed it both in this and Mission Impossible earlier in the year. If the rumors of her being cast as Sue Storm are true, she has my full support.
Don’t forget about the battles. Lots of battles. If you’re thinking of bringing your children to see this movie, I’m not sure this will be the one to do that. I love going to art museums and you see figures like him in beautiful paintings, and this is the first time that it struck me just how brutal somebody like him had to have been.
The violence was graphic with many beheadings and maiming throughout. I like that we get to see how strategic these battles had to be, things like positioning and high ground and weather conditions where Paramount to success. Over the course of the movie, you see Napoleon numbing to the battles a bit. There’s even a moment where he’s asleep standing up! But throughout the movie, dude was causing some real destruction. There were millions of deaths that happened under his command.
I love the visuals and the cinematography in this movie. No scene was as good of an example of that as the coronation ceremony scene. It looked like it came straight out of an art museum. And in fact, there are real paintings that depict this exact moment that it looks like we stepped right into. The way it was lit, and the way the stars and the background actors were posed in their attire. The set design, it was really like a painting. It had this overexposed quality that contributed to that look. You can tell Ridley Scott is really a fan of this kind of art. In the previously mentioned scene, there was even a moment where you could see the artist painting what was going on. I feel like Ridley Scott had a trip to a museum one day and left out inspired to make this movie.
There were two other moments that I can think of as well that were kind of callouts to the art of that era. There was beauty in the violence on the battlefield too the way the shots were blocked, captured all the graphic violence perfectly. Even some of the large pan outs in the battlefield just look gorgeous.
There wasn’t much I didn’t like about this movie. Some of the dialog and moments in between the battles got a little bit boring, but nothing too crazy. The movie was very much told from Napoleon’s perspective, and I would have been interested in knowing more about the motivations of certain characters and why they did the things that they did or even the fates of certain characters. We don’t get too much of that.
I think this movie has something for all the different types of people that might be drawn to watch it. If you love action like me, then there’s plenty of that done at the highest levels. If you’re really into period pieces, the set design and costuming and dialog is great from that perspective too. Also, the story of Napoleon and Josephine’s relationship is just captivating here. Ridley Scott really did a great job with this movie and it has my recommendation.