‘Napoleon’ review: Ridley Scott gives us only a partial picture

‘Napoleon’ review: Ridley Scott gives us only a partial picture

“Napoleon” offers so much.

The latest effort from the endlessly prolific filmmaker Ridley Scott, the historic epic dramatizes the fascinating life of French figure Napoleon Bonaparte, tracing his rise and eventual fall — only to be followed by a second rise and fall — and examining his love and, perhaps, downright obsession with his wife Josephine.

As it does so, “Napoleon” presents us with numerous battle sequences, the kind of spectacle-filled exercises at which Scott is so adept.

And while it gets an uneven performance by Joaquin Phoenix — who certainly looks the part at roughly Napoleon’s height at 5-foot-8 and regularly wearing the bicorne hat, ends pointed to the shoulders, that is synonymous with him — it is lifted by the level of excellence from co-star Vanessa Kirby, as Josephine, that we’ve come to expect.

Joaquin Phoenix stars as Napoleon Bonaparte in “Napoleon.” (Courtesy of Apple TV+)

It is fast-moving and generally entertaining.

“Napoleon” offers so much. And yet it leaves us wanting more.

Even at about two and a half hours, “Napoleon” plays like the Cliff Notes version of the French military leader-turned-emperor’s tale, so we hope we do get the promised option of a four-hour cut when the movie lands on Apple TV+. (In theaters this week and distributed by Sony Pictures Releasing, it primarily is an Apple Studios production.)

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