This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Nick J’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
I can't believe the Japanese invented "A Bug's Life." Has America done anything original ever?
I don't think I was quite ready for this one when I saw that 3+ hour runtime. It's been a while since I saw a film I liked so much but it was so exhausting, probably not since "Once Upon a Time in the West." It's best to bring up that film because these two films both have similar strengths for an epic action film with a grueling pace: cast, technical aspects, and building momentum. Just look at the cast list, the first two or three names alone should sell the film, and it gets even better when Mifune is just allowed to act like a crazy person. Kikuchiyo is great. And then you look at the director and that should sell you on the film, because Kurosawa is a master with black and white cinematography. And then you watch the first couple of minutes that should also sell you, because the film already tells you what's waiting at the finish line: a grueling battle that is sure to cost some lives. The third act absolutely delivers in spades as we slowly see the samurais' bond among themselves strengthen and the villagers slowly trust them & arm themselves to culminate in an all-out war with catastrophic casualties. That final shot of the graves and swords in the dirt is so incredibly haunting.
You have to be ready for this film. I cannot stress that enough. It definitely fits more with Yojimbo than with Rashomon in which the focus is placed more so on the characters & story than on the storytelling & themes and it is definitely worthy of all the praise and admiration it has acquired as a classic of the samurai genre.