Probably the biggest war epic of the year starts in a week. With Napoleon, Ridley Scott devotes himself to the life of the legendary general and emperor who changed the course of history on several battlefields.
Before the cinema release, the first reviews of Napoleon with Joaquin Phoenix in the leading role have now been published. They are mostly positive and praise not only the director’s gigantism as director Surprisingly high humor content of the blockbuster.
Initial Napoleon reviews praised the battle staging and humor
In his BBC review, Nicholas Barber writes particularly positively about the battles in Napoleon:
[…] It’s an impressive feat, although it may make you appreciate Scott’s leadership skills better than Napoleon’s. […] The fierce battles that follow are all spectacular, all different from each other, and all easy to follow. Amidst the smoke, blood and chaos, Scott makes sure you can see who’s winning and why. As cavalrymen charge across misty plains and infantrymen are shot to pieces by cannonballs, reminds Napoleon that no other director makes films like Scott.
The historical film with Joaquin Phoenix is described as surprisingly funny
In her Empire review, Catherine Bray highlights the surprising humor in Ridley Scott’s film:
[…] It would be going too far to call it a pure comedy, but in David Scarpa’s script, Scott’s direction, the rhythm of Claire Simpson and Sam Restivo’s editing, and Joaquin Phoenix’s dry performance, the impulse to contrast and amuse is strong. […]Napoleon actually proves to be very good in the battles, but especially when it comes to sex, he suckswhich is a nice twist considering how long cinema has equated violent prowess with a talent for lovemaking.
David Ehrlich echoes this praise in his IndieWire review, writing about Joaquin Phoenix as Napoleon and Vanessa Kirby as his wife Joséphine de Beauharnais:
[…] Their sex scenes are played for laughswhile Scott spies the hilarity of watching a future emperor angrily pummel someone from behind, and those between Joséphine and the lover she takes eight seconds after Napoleon leaves for Egypt are almost as funny. […]We’ve been writing about this guy for more than 200 years, but Scott reduces him to just another loser who went to war because of what he lacked in life and died without company. Not every criticism of Napoleon is enthusiastic
David Rooney’s Hollywood Reporter review is less euphoric. He writes, among other things:
[…] That’s a lot for the audience to digest in a single sitting, and while Scott can be commended for his ambition, neither he nor Scarpa manage to integrate these many storylines into a flowing narrative. […]This unusual dynamic between one of the most powerful men in the world and a spouse who was not long ago in prison might have been enough to give Napoleon a steadier pulse if their scenes together had been given room to breathe and develop. But Scott is always too eager to get back on the battlefield, where Napoleon’s letters home to Josephine must maintain the common thread.
From then on November 23rd you can see the war epic for yourself. Then Napoleon starts in German cinemas. A longer director’s cut, which is almost four hours long, will be released later on the Apple TV+ streaming service.
Podcast: The 5 most exciting films in November on Netflix, Amazon and Co.
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Whether on Netflix, Apple TV+ or Disney+: There are exciting new releases among the streaming services’ own productions this month. Included are romantic science fiction and the new Netflix thriller by David Fincher.
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