Netherlands military/political history gets the Michael Bay treatment in “Admiral,” a lavishly art-directed, loud, combat-chaotic and ultimately superficial biopic of legendary 17th-century Dutch naval genius Michiel de Ruyter, whose trade-war victories against the British fleet made him a national hero.
Though not of noble birth, the tactically brilliant De Ruyter (Frank Lammers), a stocky family man beloved by his men, was tapped to take over the 20,000-ship Dutch armada by Prime Minister Johan de Witt (Barry Atsma), whom we also see fighting a second struggle at home against Orangists who want to see the republic become a monarchy under Prince William (a mincing Egbert Jan-Weeber, not so subtly hinting at William’s alleged homosexuality).
“Admiral” (called “Michiel de Ruyter” in the Netherlands) is in constant conflict-preparedness mode, its lackluster land scenes of political intrigue and home life merely holding patterns between director and cinematographer Roel Reiné's noisy, camera-restless sea battles, filmed for maximum confusion and slo-mo grandiosity. (There are as many splintery sprays of shattered wood as there are lines of dialogue.)
Running time: 2 hours, 8 minutes.
Rating: No rating.
Playing: Arena Cinema, Hollywood.