Joe’s review published on Letterboxd:
"Good thing I wasn't born a peasant."
Definitely one of those movies you kind of just have to get on board with or get out of the way, your qualms don't matter, your critiques don't matter, your level of whelm definitely does not matter, but I think it's that massive reputation that ends up doing this the most harm, since I've never seen a classic movie so misrepresented by that reputation than this one - at heart it's a simple adventure story, deceptively simple in fact, with its 3-and-a-half hour runtime I'm struck by what it doesn't have as much as what it does. Unlike most self-consciously "epic" movies, this doesn't span generations or even more than a couple months, we don't get extensive looks into the inner lives of the characters, backstories are (in terms of quantity and detail at least) akin to what you'd see in a conventional movie. We don't even get to know any of the bad guys as people, which even the Hollywood version of this story found time for with a much shorter movie.
Instead, that running time is sometimes given over to pure elemental rushes of violence, excitement, fury, fear - if this is the first modern action movie, the first movie that relished action for the sake of action, then it figures it would be twice as long as a normal movie, like how computers used to take up a whole house before we figured out how to condense them. Then there's the unusual emphasis on tactical details, how many men are necessary to guard which parts of the village, strategic philosophies ("you can't win by defense alone") and the acquisition of weapons. But in the end, it's really about how the samurai's time has once again passed. A lot of time.