Monday, August 2, 2010

The Last Samurai

We follow tom Cruise over to 2003’s The Last Samurai. The film has been derided as Dances with Wolves in Japan. While The Last Samurai does not hit all the marks as well as does Dances with Wolves, it isa worthy film within its own right.

Cruise plays jaded ex-army Captain Nathan Algren. Algren is haunted by his actions during the wars against Native Americans. Since leaving the army, he has madea living telling his war stories at gun shows to enthusiastic crowds. Their excitement only deepens his cynicism.

Algren gets the chance to help modernize the Japanese military, but is soon captured by samurai forces who want to remain true to tradition. While in their custody, Algren finds solace in appreciating their ways and opts to learn the ways of a samurai.

His journey is a interesting, albeit predictable one, for anyone who hasseen similarly themed movies. Or if you have see Shogun, for that matter.

The romance of the old ways comes to an abrupt halt--literally--when the samurai are mowed down by a Gatlin gun. The theme of The Last Samurai is one cannot stand I the way of progress. Even cultures one may feel are worthy of survival have to adapt or die off. Such an effortless massacre comes across as a ar too heavy-handed way of resolving the issues. It is supposed to have a heavy emotional impact. It comes across as so blunt as to be borderline parody. I admit--I laughed at how hard the film was trying.

The Last Samurai is a beautiful film. Nineteenth century Japan is recreated magnificently. If you have a eye for art design, you should watch just for that. The film is entertaining, but nothing special. The creators wanted to make classic here, but could not quite pullit off. Perhaps if Americans were more intrigued by Japanese culture.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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