(Review originally written at 11 December 2005)

Just because the movie is good looking and directed by one of the best movie directors of all time doesn't automatically mean that the movie itself is good as well. "Empire of the Sun" has a slow story that isn't always told from the right perspective.

Really the biggest problem of the movie is the perspective it is told from. The entire movie is told through the eyes of a child played by a young Christian Bale. Sure, Christian Bale is a great actor and he now is Batman and all, so people will only love him more in this movie now but that doesn't all mean that Christian Bale as a kid was good and strong enough to carry an entire movie on his own. And this movie is really about Christian Bale's character alone. There is nothing wrong with telling a story through the eyes of a child and it can work really powerful but a movie like that also needs a good supporting adult cast to give the movie more credibility and give the movie some more characters to relate with. The movie does has a great supporting cast (John Malkovich, Miranda Richardson, Joe Pantoliano and a young and 'serious' Ben Stiller in an early role.) but none of these actors are used consistent enough in the movie, with as a result that Christian Bale has to carry the entire movie on its own.

Visually the movie is really spectacular to look at. The cinematography by Allen Daviau is magnificent and there are some well directed and good looking sequences in the movie. Also lets please not forget the brilliant musical score by John Williams that makes some of the sequences work extremely well and gives the movie some extra boost and power.

The movie is not always correctly paced and there are some death moments in the movie were nothing really interesting ever happens. The movie does concentrate well on the emotions and feelings of especially the young boy Jim/Jamie but that doesn't always make the movie interesting to watch. It has never really been a movie that I particularly enjoyed watching, because of the at times low pace and narrow minded and very one-person sided perspective the movie is told from.

In its emotions and dramatic moments, the movie really goes over-the-top at times. The movie can be seen as an over-dramatized one that doesn't always is believable in its story. There is some typical and predictable Spielberg sentimental stuff in the movie. The over-the-top level of this movie does provide the movie with some wonderful and unforgettable sequences but at the same time its a killer for the story and the movie its credibility.

Yes the movie is perfectly watchable and its beautiful looking and all but the story and perspective makes this not really a movie that I like to watch. One of Spielberg's lesser movies. I'm sure that the book is great though! But the story doesn't really work in a movie.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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