Empire of the Sun - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Empire of the Sun Reviews

Page 1 of 183
½ February 5, 2017
Not exactly your typical Spielberg film, although it is showing quite a few of his trademarks, this story tells the pacific events of World War 2 from the perspective of a little British boy. Stunning to see what a man and actor has become of Christian Bale, who gave his debut here. While he does a great job, he tends to overact at times. That's no problem though, the direction, beautiful cinematography, enthralling story-telling and gorgeous John Williams soundtrack more than make up for it. A highly underrated war drama, that won't leave a viewer untouched.
½ December 5, 2016
Although it has Christian Bale acting in one of his best movies, the overall tone and feel to this WWII movie is not showing the war accurately.
November 20, 2016
I really liked this Steven Spielberg drama which I think was treated somewhat harshly by critics upon its initial release. The story takes place in Shanghai during WWII after the Japanese invasion and follows a young British boy as he tries to survive in an internment camp.. That youngster is played by Christian Bale who is excellent, you can see that even at 13yrs old he had tremendous talent and dive and carries the picture. Now, this film has some of Spielberg's typical flaws in that the story has his usual sheen and polish to it, somehow making even the terrible interment camp look beautiful and epic, but it didn't detract from the story for me. John Malkovich is great in a supporting role as well and a young Ben Stiller also pops-up.. Give it a try!
½ November 9, 2016
Saw in t heater when came out. Think i liked it. Cruel Japs invading China city. But too much kid. And couldn't enjoy cuz my irritable girlfriend hated all his annoying screaming and yelling.
"Steven Spielberg's acclaimed account of an English boy's life in a WWII internment camp in Japanese-occupied China.
Christian Bale, John Malkovich"
½ October 29, 2016
Didn't know who Christian Bale was when I first watched this as a teenager. What an amazing child actor he was!! Emma 10/10. Lucy 9/10. Charlotte 10/10.
October 5, 2016
Empire Of The Sun features a great debut for Christian Bale and is emotional at times, despite its slow pacing and somewhat boring story that are not typically in a Spielberg film.
August 30, 2016
A unique war film that showed what Spielberg could do with war long before Saving Private Ryan, Empire of the Sun is a masterpiece with great performances, a captivating (if long) story and impressive sequences.
August 28, 2016
The film suffers from awkward drama and some forgettable characters.
July 18, 2016
When you make as many movies as Spielberg, there are bound to be a few misfires. This is unfortunately one of them.
July 12, 2016
One of the best child performances ever
June 16, 2016
My favorite film of all. Spielberg's best movie!
Super Reviewer
June 1, 2016
Perhaps the best Spielberg film ever, this war drama has a large cast but focuses on mainly one character, a boy out of his familiars. Malkevich plays an
American, capitalism uncaged, for whom the war is primarily an opportunity for gain. Richardson is a British socialite, forced against her will to look at real life and none too happy about it. And Bale, the star, is a Brit of privilege too, but barely manages to make do. This piece had two things against it as I went in, Spielberg and Bale, but both rise above their comfort zones to deliver an exceptional story.
½ May 25, 2016
Christian Bale carrying a movie as a youngster, showing the confinements of what he shall become. The movie itself plays out on a rather interesting point of view of the WW2. From e foreign perspective in Shanghai, as China goes under Japanese controll, Bale and Malkovich among others are captured in a prisoncamp. Endurance is gold.
½ April 22, 2016
Young Christian Bale š???
½ April 16, 2016
Visually spectacular, Spielberg doesn't hold back in making something special. It's scope along with its fantastic designs and locations help to transport the viewer and experience this situation as Bale's character does.
Super Reviewer
April 14, 2016
Another film I have only just got aroundd to seeing. Superbly done by Steven Spielberg and with a great performance from Christian Bale, it's strange that this film is underrated.

A harrowing coming of age tale of life during World War 2 occupation and all the nightmares that entails. If you haven't seen it, I do recommend it.
March 29, 2016
I would love to see this movie in its' entirety!
½ March 10, 2016
There is a scene in Spielberg's film adaption of J. G. Ballard's novel, Empire of the Sun, where an imprisoned boy by the name of Jim salutes and sings the heart-piercing "Suo Gān" to three Kamikaze pilots in their pre-flight ritual. This little airplane enthusiast has no care - more specifically, he doesn't know - of the class and physical barriers that separated Japan and their captives. He respects and cares for all; everyone is equal in his innocent eyes. He salutes, befriends and surrenders to Japanese and American alike without a thought of wires or possible consequences, and everyone, even the brutal Japanese sergeant Nagata, enjoys his presence with a certain respect and adoration for him.

Like the author J. G. Ballard's own experiences, Jim, or James Graham (Christian Bale's first major role that brought him into the limelight), lives in the untouched International Settlement in Shanghai before Japan invaded it, while his well-to-do parents keep him oblivious to the intense nature of the war raging outside the metal barricades of the settlement. When the Japanese do finally march in, Jim and his parents are separated by the great throngs of chaotic crowds. Jim now has to survive on his own until he runs into a strange, snobbish American, Basie, whom he persuades to protect him. The war moves on, and our characters are moved to the Soochow camp, but we don't care as it makes no difference to unenlightened Jim.

Spielberg definitely succeeds in creating movies on World War II, and like any other of them, the oppressors bring down numerous beatings, though Spielberg curbed it to a PG rating, and mild language is spit out in intense, emotional scenes. Though Jim loudly proclaims his atheistic faith, his beliefs are radically different. He talks about God and what he does, possibly a touch in order to appeal to Christian viewers.


Throughout the movie, the tween-aged Jim often cries "I surrender" to anyone in a uniform, hoping to gain access to his parents or a guardian through that act. But I doubt little Jim understands that phrase, because, instead of a weak, fainthearted boy, we see one with a strong constitution and standing up to oppressors and respecting all (even the dead). Even in conditions so arduous and severe, his manners and respect last through the entire war, recognized by us and an admiring Basie who says, "You've got nice manners. I appreciate that."

Spielberg's powerful use of the camera and Bale's show-stopping performance emphasizes what man would do in harsh and demanding environments. On the other hand, Jim, scraping out a living through a complex network of theft and trade, lives unknowing to the motives behind the cruelties of the camp in his high world of airplanes. We follow Jim and his experiences like a close friend, but like everyone else, we can't convince him of the real dangers and truths he is ignorant of. Unlike Jurassic Park, Spielberg enhances the original material, and touches it with emotion, friendships and an inspirational story.
½ February 9, 2016
Really tough one to get through for me. Has some nice visuals, but I feel this is definitely one of Spielberg's worst films. It drags from start to finish and Christian Bale's character is one of the most annoying kids I've seen in a movie. I just wanted this to end as soon as possible.
January 13, 2016
Yup...once again I am in the minority. I hated this with every ounce of my soul! I found it boring and I really didn't care about the story at all. Everyone likes to blow Spielberg...but this movie was just not for me.
Page 1 of 183