Details from IMDB:
An epic that details the checkered rise and fall of French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte and his relentless journey to power through the prism of his addictive, volatile relationship with his wife, Josephine.
I’ve been a fan of Ridley Scott and Joaquin Phoenix for quite a while (both amazing in their fields) and I looked forward to seeing what they would do again together (after the wonderful work on “Gladiator“). So this past Sunday my wife and I went to see “Napoleon” despite some lackluster reviews.
This is an unusual movie in several respects. Most of the characters are French, yet no one speaks French or even has a French accent. It is also assumed that you know what happened during the French Revolution as it starts off with the fate of Marine Antoinette. Napoleon had over 60 battles, yet only a few of them are featured in this 2.5+ hour film. What we do get are a lot of scenes with Napoleon and his wife Josephine (that sadly add little to the story).
That’s enough negative, moving to the positive, I thought Joaquin did a great job and the fight scenes look really good/are exciting and show both the horrors and insanity of war in the 18-19th centuries (they still had people carrying flags and playing the drums!). I think the movie shows both the brilliance and the extreme/strange behavior that Napoléon did, along with how incredible it was that he was put in exile, not once but twice for mistakes he made. It also shows how he rose to power despite having little social skill and both the brilliance and extreme folly of his military decisions.
Ok one last negative, the movie is much too long. I think a good 45 minutes could have easily been taken out, a lot of scenes are just him and Josephine looking at each other. I would have loved to have seen movie battles, more insight into his character and more French (and world) history. All that said I enjoyed the movie and give it a 6.5 out of 10. I would say, however, that unless you are a huge fan of Joaquin (or Sir Ridley Scott) that it could be best to wait until this out on streaming/physical media. Also please don’t your kids see this, ages 18+ due to violence, language, nudity, gore and sexual content.