Napoleon is a self-proclaimed masterpiece that is barely interesting outside the battle sequences

by Rollo Tomassi

Ridley Scott’s Napoleon film, is a sweeping tale, that attempts to embrace an epic style reminiscent of grand historical dramas, but it falls short of achieving the monumental impact one would expect. The sweeping landscapes and elaborate sets, and massive production value, create a visually striking backdrop, yet the film struggles to maintain a cohesive narrative that truly immerses the audience in the epic scale it aspires to.

Scott seems to fall into that category that has been recently prominent of directors who no longer seem to rely on an editor to help with the story flow. Scott, Tarantino, Scorsese, Cameron, and Nolan are among them now. These directors each made masterpiece-level movies when they were expertly edited. Now, they make movies that they each believe are masterpieces and seem to get personally insulted when critics and the public don’t see them as such. All are making solid movies that try too hard to be great and are way too long.

While the acting in Scott’s Napoleon flick features a talented cast, the performances feel somewhat disconnected and lack the depth needed to bring historical figures to life. Despite the charismatic lead, the characters often come across as one-dimensional, leaving viewers yearning for more emotional engagement and complexity in their portrayals.

There is no doubt that Joaquin Phoenix is an actor supreme. However, many of his roles, much like Scott’s direction, seem untethered and overdone. Is he good? I think so. I think he’s rather incredible in this role. But simultaneously, the character is uninteresting as crafted.

On the technical front, the film showcases Ridley Scott’s signature attention to detail, with impressive costume design and meticulously crafted battle sequences. However, these technical achievements can’t fully compensate for a screenplay that occasionally falters, resulting in pacing issues that hinder the overall viewing experience.

Ridley Scott’s Napoleon movie can be seen as a mediocre attempt at an epic, with grand aspirations that aren’t fully realized. While the film boasts stunning visuals, a talented cast, and solid technical prowess, it falls short of delivering the masterpiece it aims to be. It’s a cinematic journey that, despite its best efforts, leaves viewers with the lingering sense that it overestimates its own significance in the realm of historical epics.

Rollo’s Grade: B-