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Napoleon Reviews Are In – Is It One Of Ridley Scott’s Best?-TGN


  • Initial reviews of Napoleon reveal a divided opinion on its tone, with some praising the film as an entertaining interpretation, while others find it unclear and vacillating between comedy and drama.
  • Critics are divided on the performances in Napoleon, with Kirby’s portrayal being called beguiling and astutely cast, while Phoenix’s performance receives mixed reviews, with some finding it overly enigmatic.
  • The scale and grandiosity of Napoleon‘s battle sequences are highly praised, but there are concerns about how the action interacts with the central relationship between Napoleon and Josephine.



The first reviews of Napoleon are in, revealing the first reactions to Ridley Scott’s historical epic. Starring Joaquin Phoenix as the titular French military commander and later Emperor, Napoleon follows the rise and fall of Napoleon Bonaparte as he navigates his turbulent relationships with power and his wife, Josephine (Vanessa Kirby). Napoleon is set for release on November 22.

As Napoleon fast approaches its release date, the initial reviews of the film are rolling in. Screen Rant’s Graeme Guttmann called the film’s tone “unclear” as Napoleon vacillates between a sort of domestic comedy and a by-the-numbers biopic.” Peter Debruge of Variety echoed similar sentiments, saying that “Scott bites off more than he can manage.” Other critics loved the film, such as Empire‘s Catherine Bray, who called Scott’s film an “entertaining and plausible interpretation of Napoleon,” while still agreeing with Guttman’s assertion that the film is nearly a comedy.

Napoleon’s Tone and Performances Have Divided Critics

Throughout the reviews of Napoleon, this malleability between humorous elements and intense drama seems to be among its most controversial elements. On one hand, critics like Decider’s Meghan O’Keefe call Napoleon “an intriguing experiment in storytelling.” On the other hand, IndieWire’s David Ehrlich says that Scott “seems to have been surprised by how far that funniness would take” Napoleon, accusing the director of being “caught off-guard” by the humor.

Brain Viner of The Daily Mail focuses his attention on the performances within Napoleon, comparing Kirby and Phoenix. While Viner called Kirby’s performance “beguiling” and “astutely cast,” he felt that Phoenix was “mumbling” and overly “enigmatic” to the point of confusion. Others, such as Independent’s Clarisse Loughrey and BBC’s Nicholas Barber, were captivated by Phoenix’s lead performance. Loughrey lauded “Phoenix’s reliable brilliance,” whereas Barber referred to it as “enjoyable.”

Related: Gladiator 2 Puts Even More Pressure On Napoleon To Be Great, And Not Just Because Of Ridley Scott

THR’s David Rooney was impressed by the scale of Napoleon’s battle sequences, particularly the Battle of Waterloo, which he called “expertly orchestrated.” Rooney took more issue with how this fighting interacts with Josephine and Napoleon’s relationship, saying that Scott is too “eager to get back out in the field, where Napoleon’s letters home to Josephine have to maintain the thread.” Collider’s Ross Bonaime said that Napoleon director Scott “shows a level of scale and grandiosity that we’ve never quite seen from him before,” speaking highly of Napoleon.

Source: Various (See Above)

  • Napoleon 2023 Movie Poster


    Release Date:

    Ridley Scott

    Joaquin Phoenix, Vanessa Kirby, Tahar Rahim, Ben Miles, Ludivine Sagnier, Matthew Needham


    158 Minutes

    Drama, Epic

    David Scarpa

    Apple, Scott Free Productions

    Apple TV+, Columbia Pictures

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