• Review: Admiral (2016)

    From Mark R. Leeper@21:1/5 to All on Tue Feb 16 13:01:35 2016
    (a film review by Mark R. Leeper)

    CAPSULE: This is the epic biopic of the career of Dutch
    naval hero Michiel Ruyter who fought against the English
    and the French in the second and third Anglo-Dutch wars,
    1665 to 1673. It features several exciting cannon
    battles between ships. The filmmakers frequently create
    spectacular visual effects using CGI like it was meant
    to be used. Rating: high +2 (-4 to +4) or 8/10

    [The film is in Dutch, English, and French with subtitles where
    they are needed.]

    I never much was interested in the French and Indian Wars when they
    taught it in school. I suppose I could not identify with the
    people fighting or picture the conflict. Then I saw the film THE
    LAST OF THE MOHICANS and I was hooked. It always seemed to me that
    history should be taught at least in part on the movie screen.
    Films should be used to make historical times come alive for
    students. The Dutch film ADMIRAL has been made in two versions.
    One is for general release and one has less sex and violence for
    showing in schools. And I think it will work wonders to involve
    students in history. It is, after all, an exciting ride, even if it
    does not always get its history correct. As a Hornblower fan I
    would rather see two ships from the Age of Sail battling in than
    see two superheroes fighting each other. Particularly since along
    the way I am learning a little about real history. Not that the
    history is necessarily 100% accurate, but one learns the issues and
    gets an idea of the times.

    ADMIRAL (a.k.a. MICHIEL DE RUYTER) is the story of Dutch Admiral
    Michiel de Ruyter's career over what appears to be several months,
    but historically was several years. The film begins and within
    minutes we are on the shore at Scheveningen watching a battle on
    the North Sea. De Ruyter (played by Frank Lammers) proves himself
    to be an excellent commander and when Dutch Lieutenant-Admiral
    Tromp (Rutger Hauer) is killed, de Ruyter is chosen to replace him.
    We then are presented the story of de Ruyter's naval victories.
    There is a re-creation of the Four Days' Battle that is explosive
    even if it does not give a good summary of the battle. In the real
    world the battle ended with the British retreating to the safety of
    the Thames and de Ruyter blockading the Thames for fifty-one days
    before being forced to retreat. In the ADMIRAL dramatization, de
    Ruyter simply returns home after the battle.

    The reason the film gives for the wars was that the Dutch had a
    republic and the royalty of England did not want that egalitarian
    idea to spread. Inside the Netherlands the Orangists and the
    Republicans join forces temporarily to defend the Netherlands from
    the English, but the monarchist Orangists and the Republicans were
    still tearing their own country apart in a political conflict
    verging on civil war. Though battle scenes are featured, the film
    is as much about political strife in the Netherlands at the time.
    De Ruyter is dragged into the internal conflict of the Orangists
    who wanted a king and the Republicans who had a more democratic

    In the version I saw there is nudity and some torture is depicted.
    I assume I saw the general release version. The dialog talks down
    a little to the viewers who are intended in large part to be school
    students, but it pays the viewer back in thrilling visual images.
    The film uses rather obvious CGI, but the complexity and intensity
    of battle could be done no other way without a much bigger budget.

    The cast of the film is almost entirely Dutch and consists mostly
    of what were for me unfamiliar faces. Two exceptions are Rutger
    Hauer as Tromp, a Dutch Naval hero, but he is on the screen for
    only a short time. The other is Charles Dance, who does sinister
    oh-so-well, as fans of GAME OF THRONES can attest. Dance plays
    reprobate English king Charles II, though he is much older than the
    historical Charles would have been.

    People seem to be awed just by the trailer for ADMIRAL (I know I
    was) and the film does live up to the trailer. The trailer can be
    seen at the address below. Though the trailer gives the impression
    that this is predominately an English language production, it is
    mostly in Dutch. ADMIRAL will be on VOD and iTunes on February 23
    and in theaters March 11. I rate it a high +2 on the -4 to +4
    scale or 8/10.

    Film Credits:

    What others are saying:


    Mark R. Leeper
    Copyright 2016 Mark R. Leeper

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