MOVIES

Napoleon Vanquished This Thanksgiving’s Box Office

“Napoleon” promised the action and excitement of the Napoleonic battlefield — and it didn’t disappoint. The fighting opens up with an extended naval/land-based battle sequence before packing up and heading over to Egypt, where the French leader randomly shoots at some pyramids. After this brief deviation, he heads back home, where things get intense quickly.

Once back in mainland Europe, the conqueror fights the battles of Austerlitz and Borodino. The former is one of his greatest victories, and Ridley Scott depicts it as a surprise attack, where Napoleon drowns many of his enemies in the icy waters of a frozen lake broken by cannon fire. The latter takes place during a protracted invasion of Russia. Unlike Austerlitz, this is an unmitigated disaster that ends with the bulk of Napoleon’s nearly half a million soldiers dead and scattered across the Russian tundra. Follow this up with his last stand at Waterloo, and there are a lot of action-packed moments scattered throughout the film.

The battle sequences are each unique in their own way. The shots of the line infantry in square formations and ship scenes earlier in the film are very rewarding. But the eye candy really comes during the winter scenes. The Austerlitz ice battle stoked interest early on when it was teased in promotional material, and the blustery invasion of Russia, punctuated by the burning of Moscow, sends chills down one’s spine. They are each special — and they all hold up to Scott’s typical high-quality visual filmmaking. Toss in the fact that the experience was available in IMAX in many locations, and it’s no wonder the gigantic surround-sound option raked in $9 million of the global box office total.

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