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The Last Samurai - US reaction



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 Cruise’s 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 Japan’s 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 endeavors’.

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 didn’t 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 in harmony’.

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 thematic ideas'.

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 so much’.

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’.

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