Owl's Castle (Japan 2000)

Rating: **
Review Date: 8/27/01

What a disaster. Supposedly the top high tech special effects spectacle of Japanese cinema in 2000, this film is amazingly difficult to watch and enjoy. The only reason I gave it two stars instead of one is because the photography is so incredibly beautiful. The plot is incoherent and needlessly convoluted. A clan of ninja are wiped out by an ambitious lord. Ten years later, the survivors reunite and become bandits in an attempt to undermine the political power structure. One of these ninja, Juzo, is hired to assassinate the man in charge, and it takes him the entire duration of the film to decide to go through with it - and then he changes his mind and runs off with a woman instead.

Good lord, could a film be any more boring and uninteresting than this? This is supposed to be a ninja film, so where is all the action? Watching people sit around and sulk for two and a half hours is not my idea of an ideal ninja flick. And it's even worse because NONE of the characters are interesting or likable in any way. There's exactly one cute girl, and she only gets about three minutes of screen time before she gets killed off. On the plus side, the special effects are good and the photography is astounding. The film is lush and colorful, and plays like a collection of beautiful scenic paintings. However, it takes more than two and a half hours of pretty landscapes to entertain a cinematic barbarian like myself. The effects are subtle, but effective, and are mostly of the "virtual set" variety. Feudal Japan never looked so good. But where's the action? Does anything ever actually happen in the film? What a sad waste of time.