The Last Samurai Reviews
Before I get into my review, readers should know that this film requires patience. Do not watch unless you intend on finishing it, because the first 20 minutes are VERY dull. However, from those 20 minutes onward, it is a masterpiece.
The acting in this movie was breathtakingly good. Tom Cruise, surprisingly, did a great job as Nathan Aldren, the former American army captain recruited by the Japanese to exterminate the Samurai. He showed a lot of emotion and energy with his role while keeping it realistic, a great performance. Koyuki did a great performance as well as the Japanese mother of 3 small children forced to care for Nathan, despite the fact he killed her husband. However, the best performance in the movie has got to go to Ken Watanabe (FYI, he was also in "Batman Begins" another great one) His performance showed plenty of emotion and power, and was part of what made this movie so emotional.
Of course, what's a fantastic historical epic without fantastic battle scenes? And these battle scenes are certainly fantastic. From choreography to just the right amount of slow mo, these fight scenes seem to get everything right. (The battle scene at the end is probably the best, which I suppose is fitting)
However, what sets "The Last Samurai" apart from a mindless, heartless idiotic blood bath like "300" is the character development, We actually care about the characters in this film. When Nathan Algren is captured by the Samurai, he must make a choice about whether to protect and embrace the culture he has grown into, or betray the samurai and bring about their extermination. Similarly, when Taka (Koyuki's character) is forced to care for Nathan, she is horrified. Nathan killed Taka's husband, a samurai, in a battle. However, the more time Nathan spends in the house and the closer she, and her children, get to Nathan. That said, "The Last Samurai" would be nothing if not for it's fantastic characters.
If you are a "300" fan, looking for a mindless, bloody, stupid and senseless war film, go check out "Beowulf". However, if you're looking for a historical epic with a heart, brain and muscle than you've hit jackpot with "The Last Samurai". Truly one of the best films of 2003.
This film needed a smaller name in the lead role in my opinion, someone with less of an ego and can play a character that you care about, you care about the other samurai from the village but not Cruise cos you know he can't die *rolls eyes*.
Basically everything about this film is an Oriental dream from the cast to the costumes but the ending is really quite poor as the invincible Cruise lives on whilst all the better actors get killed off. Very 'Hollywood' and can't compare to '13 Samurai' but it is worth a viewing for its accurate depiction of 19th Century Japan.
After living a life of shame survive under Custard, Nathan Algren (Cruise) who is an alcoholic gets hired to train the Japanese army to eradicate the Samurai. He gets captured after an ill prepared attack, as the newly formed army is not battle ready and not disciplined enough for combat. As they are ordered to suppress the Samurai revolt. Algren gets captured and becomes the Samurai's prisoner. Through his captivity, Algren slowly regains his honor and learns the way of the Samurai. He becomes impressed with their way of life, the way they live, fight and how selfless they are. At first, The Samurai are wary of him, but it's not long that they gain full confidence in him.
Soon the eras will collide and Algren will choose a side, and be forced to fight for what he truly has come to love. The Last Samurai is a well crafted film, and Tom Cruise gives a great performance, in fact one of his best since Rainman (at the time of this films release) Ken Wantanabe is phenomenal as the Samurai Katsumoto, his performance is the best of the film. Edward Zwick has made yet another terrific film, and The Last Samurai proves yet again that he's is a seriously underrated director. The Last Samurai is unique and is a film that you won't forget long after you've seen it. The film is simply beautiful.
I know my grade is inflated, but since my lack of Japanese culture and history forces me to mainly focus on aesthetic stuff, that's why. But I can't be blamed though, This movie looks wonderful. Good cinematography, decent framing, lovely costumes and sets, and (if memory serves right), nice music too. Cruise could be much better, but he tries. I mean, an unknown may have been a better choice, but this would probably have been a smaller and less epic affair as a result. Watanabe is awesome though. Crusie os not bad, but he's great. I can't remember the extent of Timothy Spall's role but he's consistently proven to be great , no matter the size or scope of the roles he has.
This is basiclly a 4/5, but I give it the extra since the technical stuff is just so awesome and well done. This isn't one I would watch (or want to) all the time, but it's worth seeing once in a great while.
It is perhaps a little disappointing that people will watch, and have watched this film purely because of Tom Cruise being the lead, when although this is one of Cruise's better roles it certainly isn't the Cruise element that makes the film, but I'm sure he would have raised the box office ratings.