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Review for the Week of 12/7:

The Last Samurai



Rated R | 144 mins


     From the moment that the first promotional clips for this movie were released, I was confident that it would be terribleómelodramatic and corny in every way. My initial reaction was the opposite of most everyone elseís; the majority of moviegoers thought that it would be grand. And here we are now. The Last Samurai has opened to mixed reviews and a hesitant following. Those that were anxiously awaiting it have found themselves disappointed. But, of course, I, the guy who didnít think that itíd be any good, love it. Isnít it ironic how things often turn out?

     The Last Samurai may be long, but itís a completely worthwhile epic thatís both riveting and enthralling. Rarely will an audience feel as though theyíve experienced a gigantic journey after watching a film, but this is a welcome exception. There are so many emotions that one encounters when viewing this motion picture; it fearlessly captures passion, animosity, apprehensiveness, pain, nervousness, courage, love, tiredness, and anxiousness. The epic is one type of film that Hollywood producers can flawlessly create. This movie is a wonderful example.

     Despite my many reservations about Tom Cruise, itís hard to deny that he knows what heís doing here. While his performance may not be one of the best of the year, it suits the role, and acts as a subtle centerpiece for the eventful and booming plot. Several of the other members of the cast, however, are astonishing. Ken Watanabe is the standout of the film. His portrayal of his honorable and unafraid character is fierce and swift, miraculous in every aspect. William Atherton, Koyuki, and Hiroyuki Sanada are also terrific in their roles.

     The Last Samurai is certainly one of the most visual impressive films of the year, as well. I was reminded of Myazakiís animated feature My Neighbor Totoro when gazing at the serene and lush backdrops from wondrous locations in Japan. Behind the camera capturing them, we have expert cinematographer John Toll. The photography alone makes The Last Samurai worth seeing. The rest of the many pros are mere pluses on an infamous list of the great things that this movie has to offer. To experience it is miraculous; it allows us to think of life in a completely different way than we normally would.


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