It's a real shame that this Dutch film has not reached the audience it deserves. Like many Dutch films most Dutch cinema viewers don't care for those that much. Granted I am one of the ones that rather watched these films on dvd or television but if they keep making films like this one you can bet I would want to watch it on the big screen.
Considering the scale of this project and the budget they had it is remarkable what director Roel Reiné managed to accomplish. Now he did lose track of the story a couple of times in favour of the spectacle and eye candy but I don't really see that as a huge flaw since he did spend time on some major and important historic events. Was it always clear and easy to follow? No. They sped through twenty years very quickly. And in some cases it would have been nice and vital had Reiné paid more attention to the characterization and the motives. Then again if you delve deeper into the monarchy and the politics you run the risk of losing your audience. So I do understand why the director avoided this. Still I did find myself cursing at some characters for their betrayal. There are some scenes that truly were effective and dramatic. And if you hear or read someone claiming otherwise then I can assure you that those people have not been paying attention.
For a Dutch production this film is huge. It easily can measure up to a Hollywood production even when some of the battle scenes were a little too drawn out and unclear of what was going on exactly. I truly admire the hard work and the ambition that has gone into this film and it is one of the reasons why I am very forgiving concerning the flaws.
Could this film have been better? Of course. But for what it offers it is one hell of a movie. It held my interest throughout (155 minutes long) that had a decent enough conclusion. It really deserves praise for it's ambition and for what it has accomplished. Trust me if I say that I would not dare to recommend this film to you if it would suck balls as is claimed by many Dutch critics. (I do understand one of the criticisms concerning colonialism and slavery. I am all for including as much and many history facts as possible. However those subjects are so big that they deserve their own movie or movies and would only detract from Michiel de Ruyter in his function as Admiral. A lot happened in his lifetime and there is only so much you can show without people losing their interest. Too many subjects would over complicate the story. So in all honesty I think that would ruin the whole vibe of this film).
Overall I can recommend this film if you want to get a little idea about this Dutch folk hero. And if you are truly interested and want to know the real facts then read up about him.