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'The Last Samurai': A Must See Movie

Published May 30, 2004 in MOVIE REVIEW
By Ryan Parsons | Campus Resource

When I originally saw the last samurai in theatres, I immediately knew that I was watching one of the best movies of the year. Now, after its video release, I again find myself blown away by how good this movie really is. Every aspect of this film [such as Cruis, Watanabe, cinematography, story, and score] seems to fit into a wonderful puzzle.

The Story
The plot is simple. A once noble American soldier finds redemption and honor after being captured by militant Samurai in the nation of Japan; the same Samurai that he has been sent to destroy. The soldier, Nathan Algren, is played by Tom Cruise. Cruise does a wonderful job playing a fallen soldier who must drown out his sorrows in the bottle. Cruise's character, Algren, is haunted by nightmares reflecting his troubled past. Algren, after being captured and forced to live with the Samurai, finds his cure amongst the samurai code. Algren later befriends and joins the samurai.

Cinematography
Open, untamed, landscapes with snowy mountains in the background to boot. What more could you want? All sets are very realistic and take advantage of the wide-screen format. As you watch the film you witness three locations. The first looks like an early San Francisco, the second is a busy, growing town in Japan, and the last is the samurai camp located 'deep in the mountains.' All are very well constructed and very realistic.

The Score
'The Last Samurai' has a very powerful score composed by Hans Zimmer. Zimmer, known for his music in 'Crimson Tide,' 'Pearl Harbor,' 'Black Hawk Down,' 'Gladiator,' and 'The Rock,' takes advantage of what I call weeping strings or weeping violins to tie the whole movie together while continuously setting the somber tone. The music in this film reminds me of a combination between the 'Glory' score and 'The Last of the Mohicans' score. Both of which I also greatly enjoy.

Sample Music: Ronin.mp3

The Players
As previously discussed, Tom Cruise does a convincing job on playing the roll of Captain Algren. However, his co-star Ken Watanabe, brings light to the screen. As a viewer, you will fall in love with the energy and compassion that Watanabe envoys in his character Katsumoto. The guy is to a better word, brilliant.

Rent, Buy, or See this Movie!
If you have not yet seen this film, go rent/buy it and do so. I can almost guarentee that you will be taken by the acting to the action to the story, the pacing, the music, the emotional resonance, the character development, the cinematography, the beginning, the ending [joblo] and everything that falls within. This movie brings you in close and personal and you will love every step of the way.

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Ryan Parsons
Sources: Campus Resource
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