Shogun movie review & film summary (2024) – Roger Ebert


With the present abysmal streaming panorama the place exhibits are thrown onto providers to gather mud like previous VHS tapes, it’s not possible to not really feel like TV has been in want of exhibits that really feel like an occasion. The occasions of epics like “Breaking Unhealthy” are lengthy over, as are the occasions the place collection have been capable of maintain greater than 10 episodes. Nevertheless, there are nonetheless writers and administrators who’re making an attempt to craft tv exhibits that really feel epic, although some do it extra efficiently than others.

It’s clear from the primary episode that FX’s “Shōgun” is one in every of these exhibits. From its sprawling monologues to its expertly crafted units, the collection stands out instantly in a panorama the place content material seems to be extra vital than artwork. Throwaway dramas are nothing in comparison with this, and because the epic story slowly unfolds, the collection is ready to stand out as a titan amongst its friends. 

Primarily based on the James Clavell novel of the identical identify, “Shōgun” feels extra like a reinvention of the textual content it is based mostly on slightly than an adaptation. Creators Rachel Kondo and Justin Marks strip Clavell’s textual content from its authentic pages and create one thing not solely magnificent, however wholly authentic. The bones of the story are there—the collection follows English sailor John Blackthorne (Cosmo Jarvis) after he lands on the shores of feudal Japan—however there’s a spark that the e-book was not essentially missing however proved exhausting to translate onto tv beforehand with the 1980 miniseries. 

Blackthorne’s look sparks an unlikely alliance with Lord Toranaga (an at all times magnetic Hiroyuki Sanada) who faces a problem from his fellow lords as they struggle to aim to turn into Japan’s subsequent chief. The 2 males’s tales are linked by Mariko (a revelatory Anna Sawai), an outcast from a infamous household who’s assigned by Toranaga to function Blackthorne’s translator. These separate tales of political strife quickly turn into a finely woven story of interpersonal relationships and three people striving for energy, proving that this rendition of Clavell’s work has been expanded for the display. It really works nearly completely and appears like a recent take not solely on the novel, however the first time this story was put to display as effectively. 

These interwoven character arcs are what actually makes the collection shine. Clavell’s novel is damaged down and compelled to take a far broader view than its predecessor, transferring past the Western outsider’s perspective that dominated the unique work and as a substitute permitting the present’s Japanese characters to turn into fleshed out people in their very own proper. Each events usually are not solely confused by the opposite, however enamored all the identical, placing down an orientalism that–if this have been launched a decade in the past–would have undoubtedly been current. 

The character dynamics on this rendition of Clavell’s story usually are not solely extra intriguing, however extra emotional as effectively. This new rendition permits us to hook up with characters past the trio of protagonists, from dominant gamers like Kashigi Yabushige (Tadanobu Asano), the lord of Izu, to Usami Fuji (Moeka Hoshi), a widow who should reinvent herself to outlive. These two characters are an ideal instance of Kondo and Marks’ expertise, permitting these secondary figures to turn into as attention-grabbing because the collection’ leads, in flip permitting Asano and Hoshi to highlight their skills.

One of many few downsides of the collection is that it isn’t practically lengthy sufficient. It’s comprehensible that within the present TV panorama, the most secure guess could be to craft a present like this as a miniseries, however a present like “Shōgun” frankly deserves multiple season. The story is so wealthy with political tendrils that unfurl into larger and broader concepts, that it will be greater than attainable for its story to be stretched. Whereas a second season would have been welcomed, what we get is a tight-knit epic that feels past something that’s hit our TV screens in years. 

“Shōgun” is already being in comparison with titans like “Recreation of Thrones,” and whereas there may be political scheming, that’s about the one factor the 2 collection have in widespread. FX’s latest collection is nice sufficient to face in its personal proper, a swirling drama crammed not with dragons however as a substitute with characters who use phrases as their energy. Evaluating it to the HBO fantasy drama doesn’t essentially make sense, and in flip nearly does a disservice to the present. They’re wholly completely different in what they’re not solely making an attempt to realize, but additionally what they’re making an attempt to say about survival and belonging in a society rife with battle. 

In a tv panorama that’s extremely unpredictable, it’s going to be not possible for “Shōgun” to get misplaced amongst the handfuls of exhibits relegated to streaming providers. Every dialog is as partaking because the battles that shortly observe. The dialogue is wealthy with context and subtext, written in a method that makes it clear that every individual, from behind the scenes to these in entrance of the digital camera, cares about this story. “Shōgun” is a wealthy textual content that has been expertly reinvented for the display, proving that exhibits of this likeness cannot solely nonetheless be made, however can nonetheless obtain greatness. 

Shōgun” premieres on FX on February twenty seventh. Eight episodes screened for overview.

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Kaiya Shunyata
Kaiya Shunyata

Kaiya Shunyata is a contract popular culture author and educational based mostly in Canada. They’ve written for, Xtra, Okayplayer, The Every day Beast, AltPress and extra. 

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Shogun (2024)

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