'The Last Samurai'
(Tom Cruise, Timothy Spall, Billy Connolly / R / 128 mins / Warner Bros.)
Overview: Tom Cruise plays Civil War vet Nathan Algren, who travels to Japan in the 1870s to help organize and teach the emperor's troops during a time of feudal conflict on the islands; the emperor's goal is to eradicate the remaining samurai. As he learns more about the warriors after he is captured by them, Algren comes to understand and appreciate the complicated system of honor under which they live and finally has to choose which side to fight on.
Verdict: Beautifully designed, intelligently written, acted with conviction, the 'Last Samurai' is a handsome epic, a brave-hearted 19th-century man-saga. A rousing tale that combines high adventure with emotional effectiveness, 'Last Samurai' - in all honesty - might have been designed to give Cruise a chance to shine, but to the detriment of the overall film. An honorable film hamstrung by Hollywood conventions, the 'Last Samurai' is far more effective at communicating emotion in bigger scenes than in more intimate ones. However, when all that is said and done, the film is one hugely satisfying chunk of picturesque entertainment.
CLICK HERE to watch the 'Last Samurai' trailer.