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The Last Samurai:THE movie that GOT BEAT in 2003...

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The Last Samurai:THE movie that GOT BEAT in 2003...

Old 01-27-04, 01:36 PM
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The Last Samurai:THE movie that GOT BEAT in 2003...

In all honesty, when you look at what people expeted it to do in terms of both box-office and awards, it did. I remember everyone proclaiming that the academy might as well hand the award to Cruise when it first got released, now he's not even nominated. While I liked it as an action and adventure, it wasn't what it needed to be IMO.

Here is what my general problem with this movie was when it all boils down.
The Kill Bill fight scene in a snow covered garden in between The Bride and O-Ren Ishii does more to convey the mystique of the Eastern warrior than any amount of heavy-handed explication could have. But it does it without ever coming out and telling you what it's doing. You're expected to be smart enough to draw your own conclusions. The biggest problem with The Last Samurai is that it never assumes you're smart enough to draw your own conclusions.

A great deal of effort goes into romanticizing the Japanese warrior's code, Bushido. But the director apparently feels the need to spell out everything for the audience. There is no attempt to let us draw our own conclusions, or to let us figure stuff out on our own. If a warrior spends time trying to write a poem about Cherry blossoms and then sees them as he dies, he will mention them and what they mean. Apparently the possibility of some poor shlub paying his $8 and not getting the point was just too much for the film-makers to risk. As a result, a movie which would be best served by subtlety has none.

While some of the fight scenes were beautifully choreographed and filmed, the Samurai are not the Plains Indians (as the movie explicitly tries to convince us) and the non-fight scenes are a waste of our time. There was a good movie in here someplace, but it's buried under tired cinematic cliches and the need to accomodate Cruise's stardom.

The Samurai were, as the movie points out over and over, bound by honor in ways the modern man finds unfathomable. They were also, as the movie pointedly ignores, brutally cruel towards the commoners they considered inferior to themselves. A better film might've explored this nuance, that the Samurai were honorable and steadfast at the same time they were arrogant and cruel.

There is a scene in which the peasants making up the new Japanese army harass a young Samurai and cut off his topknot. This is played out simply as an unnecessary indignity heaped on an honorable man, but it could've been used for much more. It could've explored the fact that the soldiers were justified in ther hatred of the Samurai, that a military elite spending 1000 years ruling by the sword is going to provoke hatred and resentment.

The movie could've explore the fact modern industry and military power combined with the cruelty and arrogance of the Samurai could be some scary shit, or that the demands of efficiency in the modern market have their own cruelty and arrogance. Instead, we get handed the simple formula: Samurai good, modernity bad and are expected to swallow it whole. There was a good movie buried in here somplace, but this ain't it.
Old 01-27-04, 03:18 PM
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So you decided to duplicate your post in the other thread and start this new one separately because...?
Old 01-27-04, 03:21 PM
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Re: The Last Samurai:THE movie that GOT BEAT in 2003...

Originally posted by Dr. DVD
In all honesty, when you look at what people expeted it to do in terms of both box-office and awards, it did. I remember everyone proclaiming that the academy might as well hand the award to Cruise when it first got released, now he's not even nominated. While I liked it as an action and adventure, it wasn't what it needed to be IMO.

Here is what my general problem with this movie was when it all boils down.
The Kill Bill fight scene in a snow covered garden in between The Bride and O-Ren Ishii does more to convey the mystique of the Eastern warrior than any amount of heavy-handed explication could have. But it does it without ever coming out and telling you what it's doing. You're expected to be smart enough to draw your own conclusions. The biggest problem with The Last Samurai is that it never assumes you're smart enough to draw your own conclusions.
.
I COMPLETELY agree with you on all of this. Now, I do think Cruise probably gives the best perfomance of his career in Samurai, but I hated the movie. The movie was so full of Hollywood B.S. & cliches that I felt dumbed down after seeing it. All the movie does is take every cliche KNOWN to the american audience & show it with pretty looking backdrops & a good looking actor in Ken Watanabe. However the movie does nothing to offer anything knew or even interesting IMO. It doesn't explore the way of life the Samurai lived, it offers no meaning or understanding as to why they lived how they live, although that is what the movie tries to do, it fails in every respect. Last Samurai IMO is the embodiment of Hollywood fluff with no substance despite what the actors & creators involved claim otherwise.
Old 01-27-04, 03:24 PM
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Re: The Last Samurai:THE movie that GOT BEAT in 2003...

Originally posted by Dr. DVD
In all honesty, when you look at what people expeted it to do in terms of both box-office and awards, it did. I remember everyone proclaiming that the academy might as well hand the award to Cruise when it first got released, now he's not even nominated. While I liked it as an action and adventure, it wasn't what it needed to be IMO.
Hype, Hype. It's all hype.
Old 01-27-04, 03:35 PM
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The only good thing about this movie was Ken Watanabe. I'm glad he got an Oscar nod.
Old 01-27-04, 03:52 PM
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I really liked The Last Samurai. But I wouldn't say it was Cruise's best performance. Not even in his top 5.
Old 01-27-04, 03:53 PM
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I don't know what 'people' or what 'hype' is being referred to, I didn't expect the movie to set the world on fire, after seeing the preview and looking the the amazing competition at the box office. TLS did about what was expected, especially after the middling reviews... where was the hype? In the commercial? On this board?
Old 01-27-04, 04:11 PM
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Originally posted by balancer
I don't know what 'people' or what 'hype' is being referred to, I didn't expect the movie to set the world on fire, after seeing the preview and looking the the amazing competition at the box office. TLS did about what was expected, especially after the middling reviews... where was the hype? In the commercial? On this board?
Trade papers my friend. You have to be in the industry to understand.
Old 01-27-04, 04:18 PM
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I really liked this movie, too. But did I really think that the movie was going to earn all the heavy awards? Not for a second.
Old 01-27-04, 04:25 PM
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I really liked the movie too. I thought it might win for Art Direction. I didn't think it was best picture material.
Old 01-27-04, 04:50 PM
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Originally posted by Kal Jedi
So you decided to duplicate your post in the other thread and start this new one separately because...?

Because when I posted it originally everyone had already seen TLS and would most likely not even consider reading one more post about its problems.

Now that the film didn't get the two noms the "trade papers" would have you believe it wanted (Best Picture and Best Actor), nor get exactly boffo B.O., I feel the need to offer a possible explanation.

I too am glad for Watanabe's nom. though. While I was watching the movie I got the feeling that Zwick was actually more interested in telling the story of Ken's character than Cruise's and gave Ken as many scenes w/o Cruise as possible. Kudos to Zwick for doing something right by not having Cruise's mug on the screen for the duration of the film.
Old 01-27-04, 05:20 PM
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Originally posted by Dr. DVD
nor get exactly boffo B.O.,
Please stand by for the DVDTalk "Grossly Inflated Box Office Police" who will be here shortly. They've read all the propaganda off of studio web sites and fan sites and will put you in your place about how TLS actually made 400 million dollars world wide.
Old 01-27-04, 05:22 PM
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Of all the people I've talked to hardly any didn't really enjoy this film.

It's not about how the SAMURAI lived. It's about the Japanese hiring an American soldier to "train" their people how to fight like modern countries, with guns etc.

The only cliched part (spelled out) I thought was the end, but that is miniscule compared to the terrific film I thought it was.

Yes, there were also a few places of dialogue that seem really out of place, but overall the positives supremely outweigh the negative.

That's just my two cents though.

I'll take it over Master and Commander any day. It's one of the most overrated and critically praised films of the year.
Old 01-27-04, 05:30 PM
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Originally posted by Frank TJ Mackey


I'll take it over Master and Commander any day. It's one of the most overrated and critically praised films of the year.

Just the opposite for me.
I guess the Oscar-nominee backlash has begun.
Old 01-27-04, 05:35 PM
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Last Samurai, imo, is excellent entertainment, a big sweeping epic that has endearing characters, especially that of Watanabe. I'm quite pleased with his nomination. But the original poster made a very good point, and one that I agree with. This film has a strong edge of historical inaccuracy for the sake of dramatic impact. While pretty much every film does this, I just know that the sistuation presented in this movie is not presented in a manner that really tells how things were. The way of the samurai is explored only in its positives, yet the negatives are completely shunned. Modernism is bad, honor and he way of the samurai is good. Unfortunately, while the film is a good drama, I find it hard to believe that modernism is so bad. Nor can I ignore the glaringly obvious ommision of who these people are and what they did to the country before. Another film that did this historical revision was The Patriot, a movie that had a decent idea, but tore it apart to make a Mel Gibson Braveheart retread during the Revolutionary war.

But what makes Last Samurai a better film? Well, it's a good movie that's why. Taken out of the historical context and forgiving the film for its sappy ending, I think it is quite stellar. I was engrossed during the movie, enjoyed the characters and thought it told a very engaging story. Unfortunately part of my brain went "this couldn't happen," but that doesn't mean I don't recognize the positives in the film. The Patriot, on the other hand, was cow dung. Sappy all the way through, and exceptionally cheesy. Blah. That's my two cents.
Old 01-27-04, 06:13 PM
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Originally posted by Frank TJ Mackey
It's not about how the SAMURAI lived. It's about the Japanese hiring an American soldier to "train" their people how to fight like modern countries, with guns etc.

This is where I have to disagree & the movie goes wrong. MOST of the movie is about & focuses on Cruise's character falling in love with the Samurai way & the Japanese culture & that is what the movie focuses most of it's time & themes on. "the Japanese hiring an American soldier to "train" their people how to fight like modern countries, with guns etc." as you say, are nothing more than the book ends of the movie & teh catalyst for getting Cruise to the Samurai village where what the move actually focuses on takes place. The movie opens & ends with what you were referring to, but the majority of the movie is not about that AT ALL.

The posts in this thread prove why I hated the movie. Yes, it's enjoyable, b/c it's just hollywood fluff. The movie is quite idiotic, especially the ending. All the movie ever shows about the samurai lifestyle are the cliches most Americans are familiar with. The movie never offers anything deeper or tries to be anything original. Is this enjoyable & what most people want, yes. But given all the hype, the way the director & Cruise were promoting the movie. I was expecting much more. The movie is a very pretty movie but has no substance.

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Old 01-27-04, 06:17 PM
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Originally posted by Frank TJ Mackey


I'll take it over Master and Commander any day. It's one of the most overrated and critically praised films of the year.
I feel the exact opposite.
Old 01-27-04, 06:21 PM
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Originally posted by Frank TJ Mackey

I'll take it over Master and Commander any day. It's one of the most overrated and critically praised films of the year.
I agree.
Old 01-27-04, 06:37 PM
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Originally posted by Frank TJ Mackey


I'll take it over Master and Commander any day. It's one of the most overrated and critically praised films of the year.

Old 01-27-04, 09:12 PM
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Wow Dr. DVD, you pretty much summed up exactly how I feel about The Last Samurai.

As a result, a movie which would be best served by subtlety has none.
I couldn't agree more.
Old 01-27-04, 10:29 PM
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Originally posted by balancer
I don't know what 'people' or what 'hype' is being referred to, I didn't expect the movie to set the world on fire, after seeing the preview and looking the the amazing competition at the box office. TLS did about what was expected, especially after the middling reviews... where was the hype? In the commercial? On this board?
I agree. What were people expecting. Obviously the filmmakers wanted the movie to win tons of awards. Who doesn't. And many films released in October, November, and December are Oscar hopefuls. But being a hopeful means nothing more than optimisim. Doesn't mean it will happen or is even expected.

The movie grossed over $100 mil, which seems pretty good for a dramatic film, especially one focusing on a foriegn culture. Hell, without Cruise, this film probably wouldn't have been made. It just wasn't see, and rightfully so, as a big moneymaker. A similar thing can be said about Master and Commander. Both were good films, but they are serious dramatic films. And those kind of movies aren't the ones raking in 200-300 million.

As for Cruise, he's certainly a big star, but like another big star, Mel Gibson, he's not exactly considered a top tier actor. Getting any nominations (i.e. Golden Globe) seems like a good thing. It's hard to really expect him to win
Old 01-27-04, 11:15 PM
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I loved the movie, but figured it wouldn't get many awards on the basis 1) critically it was pretty much a flop, 2) I loved the thing and still noticed all the cliches, 3) Cruise just didn't really fit imho.

That said, inspite of the problems, I can't really complain about something I enjoyed to such a high extent (and was occasionally moved by).

And yeah, not a huge money maker but it's made $300m worldwide so far, so it isn't exactly flopping.

But I am really glad Ken W. got a nom.

Last edited by RichC2; 01-27-04 at 11:19 PM.
Old 01-28-04, 12:03 AM
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This is because a REAL samurai film was nominated instead.
Old 01-28-04, 05:05 AM
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Oscars mean jackshit!

Its a wonderful movie and its making a killing on the international market!
Old 01-28-04, 12:18 PM
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I happen to have a number of Japanese friends who came here (Vancouver, Canada) to learn English (I teach English voluntarily) and basically experience life outside of Japan.

They themselves saw The Last Samurai and really loved it. Mind you, they are not the usual "giggly", out-of-puberty students who get all hard and wet about Tom Cruise but are aged around 22-25yr sold.

What's funny is those who actually either hated the movie or found the film mediocre at best were Caucasians.

I myself am half-asian/half-white and I loved the film because I have a hard-on for samurai/chambara movies.

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