Dave Vis’s review published on Letterboxd:
My first thought for this week was to go for the highest rated unseen film by Kurosawa, which is Red Beard. However, I was also curious about the whole The Hidden Fortress-inspiring-Lucas-when-making-Star-Wars thing. As the latter also turned out to be about 45 minutes shorter than the former, my choice was made.
Although The Hidden Fortress now has the dubious honour of being my least favorite Kurosawa, that's not to say that this wasn't enjoyable. I'm just such a big fan of the 7 films I've seen from him before this, that it just didn't meet that standard.
The film obviously has its aesthetical qualities. The photography, especially in widescreen, is nothing short of breathtaking and cinematography contains beautiful compositions.
It's just that the narrative and plot felt too straight-forward to last 140 minutes of my time. The choice to tell this story through the eyes of two relatively minor characters is brilliant of course. I wasn't surprised to hear that this was the main aspect of this film that Lucas used in Star Wars, because plot-wise there were only a few similarities. In spite of what the DVD case told me... A princess trying to cross enemy lines being the main one. So that might also have a negative effect on me, I might have been looking for Star Wars related themes too much, instead of taking it at face value and enjoying it for what it is.
Because in the end, it still is a highly enjoyable adventure. Bar the running time, which in my opinion could have been shortened just a bit to tell this story right and stay focused, there's not much to fault here. In the end, one's judgement remains nothing more than a general feeling about a film and this one, although being good, didn't match the greatness and awe that I had with my previous Kurosawa-experiences, which made him one of my all time favorite directors. The man has set the bar pretty high...