We have entered the season of Oscar bait, which is when studios trot out films at the end of the year in hopes of getting enough eyes to watch and buzz generated to get a nomination.

“Napoleon” falls into this category. There are some aspects of the film truly worthy of consideration. The battle scenes are first-rate.  

The camera movements and the actors performing them are a marvelous thing to behold. The first battle we see gave Napoleon (Joaquin Phoenix) his boost to power.  The battle at Toulon sets the stage for all the other battle scenes in the movie.  

A movie, though, is more than multiple battle scenes spliced together. Sadly, there is little more that can be said about this epic from director Ridley Scott. 

The rest of this movie purports to be about the rise of Napoleon (Joaquin Phoenix) and his obsession with Josephine (Vanessa Kirby). We see Josephine indulge herself in affairs while married to Napoleon. Yet he does not have it within him to move on from her until his lack of an heir becomes an issue.  

We watch Napoleon travel to Egypt and other locales. He is with his army and expanding his empire. In his letters to Josephine, we hear of his great desire to be like Alexander the Great.  

As to dialogue, there is very little here. Where it does exist, it centers on political intrigue and Napoleon declaring his undying love for Josephine.  There is no forward movement to the story.  

The narrative is more like a rambling collection of tableaus of war and yearning, but without any heart attached to it. There was one thing that I took away from it.

I do not know if it was Phoenix’s choice as an actor, or of the writer, David Scarpa, or even director Scott, but Napoleon is portrayed as if he is a buffoon. As I watched the story play out, I kept wondering how one with the nature of Napoleon, who seems to be dim-witted in everything except war, rose to a position of leadership  It is comical to see Napoleon move through the story, knowing he is emperor of his country.  

Could it be that what is being said in this characterization is a statement of our times? We tend to have leadership that is not of the best quality. The people leading us tend to be less than stellar.  

Is this a statement about current reality?  I do not know.

What I do know is that this movie is lacking in so many areas. It has a runtime of close to three hours.  There is nothing within it that warrants that amount of time investment.  

Maybe you will find more than I did. But I can say the only thing about this movie that I enjoyed was that my wife liked it.  

The film is Rated R for strong violence, some grisly images, sexual content and brief language.  

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