‘Napoleon’ Review: Joaquin Phoenix & Ridley Scott Shine In Historical Triumph

This year has been a win for world-renowned directors & historical movies. There’s Christopher Nolan with Oppenheimer, Martin Scorsese with Killers of the Flower Moon, and even Ridley Scott with Napoleon. Scott’s latest entries have been hit or miss but Napoleon may change your mind. Joaquin Phoenix, who’s been on a roll recently, stars as the historical figure. This story follows the life of Napoleon Bonaparte, a former Emperor & commander of the French Military. It follows his achievements, failures, and personal life during historical events such as the Napoleonic Wars, The French Revolution, and many others.

The film goes right into Napoleon’s rise in the military & his ambitions for France. It starts at a cautious time during the French Revolution & The Reign of Terror, a period where the lower classes protested & challenged political power due to scarcity, famine, & lack of resources. Many politicians & rulers from the upper class were either brutally executed or accused of treason. Napoleon rose to power during the lessening vacuum of politicians & growing conflicts with countries around the area of Europe. Even during his battles, his intelligence and battle tactics express why he’s a well-renowned general. For historians & history fans, the movie does take certain liberties from historical figures & events. However, the movie properly stays in touch with every historical event.

Vanessa Kirby shines as she plays Napoleon’s wife, Empress Josephine de Beauharnais. The film expresses a proper showcase of Napoleon & Josephine’s conflicting & unhealthy relationship. It properly executes the beginning of their love, marriage, & tension leading to a divorce. Sometimes love can equate to hate. And both performers showcase it well throughout the movie. Joaquin Phoenix shines when he adds his own quirkiness & personality to Napoleon. The movie & Phoenix perfectly portrays him as human. Despite his victories & ambitions, he had his own insecurities, greed, & embarrassing moments during his career, especially during the movie’s humorous moments.

The film’s soundtrack is bombastic, dreadful, and uncanny during all of the historical battles. Thanks to composer Martin Phipps’ execution, the battles between the armies showcase the gruesome aspects of war. There are fantastic shots & cinematography as you watch violent & excruciating ways of soldiers killed, injured, or screaming war cries. Scenes will also cause anticipation and anxiety because of the despair of war.

Ridley Scott has made another amazing film in his career. Napoleon has fantastic cinematography, excellent performances, and an impressive soundtrack. This is another amazing film for the year of 2023.


Napoleon releases in theaters on November 22.

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