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Movie Review: The Last Samurai

Alternate Title: Mission Impossible Goes to Japan

Story: Modernity is coming to Japan of the 1870s. A washed up, disillusioned American Civil War Captain is hired to teach modern warfare to the Emperor's army. The goal is to replace the Samurai warriors who represent the Japan of olde. Fast forward to our hero, who as a captive of the Samurai, regains his honor, self-respect and passion.

Director Edward Zwick (Glory, Courage Under Fire) delivers a movie with all of the ingredients that one expects from an epic. There are grand landscapes, sunsets (and sunrises) and the full beauty of every season in Japan. We get a culture clash, love story, a loss story and the grand story of how people can be redeemed.

So what's the problem you might ask? Well, it is not a bad movie -- it just is an incredibly predictable film. Many of the scenes reminded me of too many other films I have seen. There just are not any surprises and there is nothing fresh or special. With that all said...I still enjoyed it -- for what it was.

Acting: Tom Cruise (while always nice to look at) has played this part far too many times. You know...the self-centered, cocky, disillusioned guy who has an epiphany and is able to change his life (and thousands of others at the same time). Ken Watanabe (as the leader of the Samurai's) was much more interesting to watch.

Predilection: I like epics.

Critters: Horses.

Food: Japanese food and lots of Sake.

Visual Art: Some calligraphy.

Soundtrack: Full on epic type.

Opening Titles: Simple.

Theater Audience: A bunch of New York Samurai who, like me, were all outraged at the Loew's theater chain for raising the price of a ticket to $10.25.

Sappy Factor: 3

Squirm Scale: 3 - Lots of swords and arrows (which equals lots of blood and gore).

Predictability Level: Over the top.

Oscar Worthy: No.

Nit Picking: The film is way too long. There is not much dialogue and it needed editing.

Big Screen or Rental: If you are the epic type, the big screen is a must. There are hundreds of films with Last in the title. Here are some of them: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, The Last Action Hero, The Last Adventure of Superman, The Last American, The Last American Virgin, The Last Angry Man, The Last Boy Scout, The Last Call, The Last Castle, The Last Chance Saloon, The Last Days of Disco, The Last Days of Pompeii, The Last Detail, The Last Escape, Last Exit and the Last Exit to Brooklyn.

Length: Two hours and 25 minutes.