• Warning: Spoilers
    If you have seen Kurosawa's brilliant Kakushi-toride no san-akunin, known as The Hidden Fortress in the West, you may find this super-charged remake a lifeless bore, as it replaces humor with gory violence and brilliant characterizations with shallow "types." In updating the story, director Higuchi abandoned the ensemble feel of the original and created an enhanced role for boy idol Matsumoto as the peasant Takezo. Takezo is uncommonly brilliant, resourceful and socially aware for a 16th century Japanese farm boy, so the film quickly lurches into self-righteousness and holds this improbable line until the last frame. The wacky duo of peasants who brought such warmth and comic wit to the original, and inspired George Lucas in the creation of R2-D2 and C-3PO, are gone to facilitate a highly unlikely romance, and the remarkable general created by Toshiro Mifune is transformed into an ordinary samurai who can barely keep up with his little princess in physical prowess.

    One aspect of the original film's genius is it's lack of class consciousness. By keeping the true identity of the general and the princess concealed for most of the film, Kurosawa could emphasize the interpersonal relationships of the characters, as well as their individual quirks. In this remake, the identities are revealed early on, making way for a pretentious and preachy class consciousness that robs the film of many laughs.

    I won't bore you with more examples of other charms missing from this film. If, like me, you are a rabid fan of Akira Kurosawa, The Last Princess will be a disappointment, but, also like me, you'll probably suffer through this remake with the same curiosity that causes you to stare at train wrecks. If, however, you are a fan of CGI and seeing bodies slashed in two, you'll love this movie, which likely plays much better to people unfamiliar with the original.