Let's face it, Kurosawa's masterpieces are dated. The movies, though brilliant, must seem slow and overlong to so many of today's younger audiences. The majority of the audience today would not be able to appreciate the nuances of any foreign movie produced in the 1950s. But that is a poor excuse to "modernize" a classic in this fashion.
"The Hidden Fortress" became an inspiration for "Star Wars". "The Last Princess" looks like a second rate ripoff of "The Phantom Menace". Watch for the bad guy duplicating one of Darth Vader's lines.
Misa Uehara's princess Yuki in the original movie had an ethereal quality that made her seem like a unicorn among human characters. Masami Nagasawa's updated princess Yuki channels Princess Leia and fights with the boys weapon in hand. This means that she can display more emotional range but it reduces the character to a cliché.
The two peasants are given more screen time and fleshed out more, but not to any productive effect. In the original they were the model for R2D2 and C3PO. In the updated version, they become Jar Jar Binks with sappy emotions.
Hiroshi Abe is given the impossible task of filling in for Toshiro Mifune. He gives it an admirable try, but one is left with the feeling that he might have done better if the script had been better written. The film notably under utilizes his comedic talent.
Kippei Shiina, usually a reliable bad guy, seems straight jacketed in his samurai armor and scarface makeup.
It is a shame because in the hands of a more competent screen writer and director, this could have been a better film. I just caters to the market too much. Movie producers should realize that the viewers also want to be surprised. They want to see something they have never seen before. Not just something that market research says they do.
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