Compiled by: Jack Foley
HAVING recently been named the second best movie of the year
by topped the US National Board
of Review, who also named director, Edward Zwick, as best
director, The Last Samurai, Tom Cruises latest epic, opened
to almost universal acclaim at the US Box Office on December 5.
Entertainment Weekly led the tributes, by awarding it
a B, and describing it as a handsome epic, while the
Hollywood Reporter praised it for being a movie that
successfully merges a Western with a samurai movie.
Reelviews, meanwhile, felt that The Last Samurai
earns every minute of its near two-and-one-half hour running length.
There's no fat to trim, and no sense that scenes have been included
to pad the ego of the director and/or his star.
The film finds Cruise as a soldier hired to lead the fight against
Japans ancient Samurai culture, who eventually falls for
that traditional way of life and fights back.
The accolades were furthered by the Chicago Tribune, which
described it as a stunning spectacle of cultural violence
and a loving tribute to the great Japanese samurai movies.
While the Los Angeles Times wrote that, taken on
the level of spectacle rather than of sense, The Last Samurai
affords the sort of fizzy enjoyment that can come with epic movie
CNN, meanwhile, referred to it as a spectacular
epic adventure, and Cruise is stunning as Captain Nathan Algren.
While the Chicago Sun-Times summed it up as 'beautifully
designed, intelligently written, and acted with conviction'.
There were those that didnt take to it, however, with
Village Voice stating that the least one can say for
this costume action flick is that it hits bottom immediately.
And the Philadelphia Inquirer observed that it's
not just Hollywood convention that gets in the way of the story,
it's the lack of depth, heft and heart at its core.
Newsday, meanwhile, noted that, through it all,
Tom Cruise stares soulfully past the camera, on toward a catering
truck where sushi rolls and ham sandwiches dwell side by side
And LA Weekly concluded that the only history that
bears a real influence on The Last Samurai is the history of Hollywood
moviemaking, and the unfortunate way it has of turning extraordinary
stories into hopelessly ordinary ones.
But Reel Views opined that it is 'a rousing tale that
combines high adventure with emotional effectiveness'.
And E! Online asked 'ss Tom Cruise big in Japan or lost
in translation?' Before concluding that 'he's a little bit of
both in this epically epic film', and awarding it a B.
Still praise-worthy, but a little more refined, was the New
York Times, which noted that it is 'far more effective at
communicating emotion in bigger scenes than in more intimate ones'.
While Variety wrote that it is 'as rich in period and
historical background as it is deficient in fresh dramatic and
But Efilmcritic.com wrote that it is sincere and
respectful to its subject matter, while delivering a rousing adventure
tale...wrapped up in that comfy old Redemption Movie we all love
And the Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote found it to
be a handsome, well-crafted production with strong work
by the magnetic Watanabe and by Cruise, who continues to make
riskier choices than he needs to.