Just to re-establish, I’m not giving it a number rating, I’m critiquing it then sum up if i like it and if you will too, So without further delay
The Last Samurai
Seemed as good a place as any to start, My family found this movie while randomly sweeping blockbuster so many years ago, and we all loved it. It comes mostly from the fact that my entire family has a soft spot for samurai, Japan and the like.
The story is simple enough.1876, Tom Cruise is a military hero of the civil war and Indian campaigns that followed. He finds himself in the employ of a Japanese business tycoon who wants him to raise an army for Japan to suppress a samurai uprising. In battle he is captured by the samurai and forced to spend winter in their village. He spends his winter become enveloped in the culture, learning the language and how to fight alongside the samurai. When the winter ends, he is forced to choose between his life as a soldier and his new found love for the peace he finds with the samurai. Battle, blood and lots of pretty landscapes follow and overall the effect it quite good.Now don’t come here looking for history, the rebellion of the samurai was real, but nothing else about the movie.The story isn’t fantastic, it’s very simple and has been done time and time again. People who haven’t seen this one i’m betting are comparing it to James Cameron’s Avatar in their heads. But this one is far better.
Visual: The Cinematography isn’t complex, but it keeps up with the action scenes really well. We’re not subjected to a Michael Bay style of action where we haven’t the slightest clue what’s going on, no when Tom Cruise is impaling people it is very clear. As said above the sets and landscapes are superb in my opinion, the sleepy town really feels peaceful.
Acting: it’s funny, after my family watched this movie we sat there for an hour debating what other actor we could see playing the lead, and honestly we couldn’t come up with one. Tom Cruise is absolutely golden in this role, his normally wooden demeanor actually plays into the character. I challenge any reader to come up with someone else and let me know your choice. The other star is Ken Watanabe (you probably know him from Inception), in his first American film. His part is that of the Samurai leader. His performance earned him an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor, that says enough in my opinion.
Sound: good lord. I could spend pages and pages ranting why Hans Zimmer is the best film composer ever to walk the Earth, but i won’t subject you to that. It’s a beautiful sweeping score that varies greatly and reflects the scenes and amplifies the mood. Not something that can be told, you’ll just have to see it. A special note goes out to the fact that people ACTUALLY SPEAK JAPANESE in the film, including Tom Cruise. Since subtitles are such a rarity i applaud those that use the native language. I can understand why people wouldn’t it takes more thought to follow it, but to me it makes it feel more authentic, more real.
Overall: A beautiful film, i love it. Now will you? it’s kinda slow, there are a number of very nice action scenes scattered, but between them can be dry for some. Best comparison is to Edward Zwick’s (the director of this one) Glory. very pretty, kinda deep, and garnished with bloody battles. If you love Samurai culture definitely see it. If you don’t mind movies with subtitles that are a bit slow, definitely see it. If you want action, you could do better, but in my opinion it’s far better than having James Cameron shove his pro-environment agenda and now famous graphics into your face for 3 hours.