I like cinema that makes me feel, that can reach down my throat and grab those heartstrings and then give ‘em a mighty yank. This film did that with the greatest of ease.
I like The Last Samurai a lot. It appeals to me on many levels. It tells a powerful story. I can’t comment on the historical accuracy of it, but it works as a film (remember that even a film ‘based’ on history - say, the Samurai rebellion in 1877 - is still a work of fiction).
It’s got samurai and ninja in it, and there’s always been something fascinating and attractive to me about the samurai way of life as it’s portrayed in film and literature.
The fight sequences are beautiful and thrilling, and the final battle puts the various LOTR efforts to shame - it’s not about scale and CGI’d cleverness, it’s about intensity and power.
Almost every single performance in it is astounding. Check out Cruise’s burnt out vet, the uncertain young emperor (telling oh so much of his character in a very short screen time), each of the band of samurai, and particularly Ken Watanabe as Katsumoto. It’s a shame about Billy Connolly’s slightly Glasgow-inflected ‘Oirish’ accent. It was only just before his character’s exit in my second viewing that I figured out he was meant to be an Irishman…
I have an unfortunate tendency to rave uncontrollably when I like a film. So I’m raving. I enjoyed this more than I’ve enjoyed a movie in a long time, and it will definitely challenge Pirates for the record of how many times I see something in the cinema.
Go see it - 150 minutes of your life will disappear, and you won’t even notice.