Empire Of The Sun
Facts and Figures
Run time: 153 mins
In Theaters: Friday 25th December 1987
Distributed by: Warner Home Video
Production compaines: Amblin Entertainment, Warner Bros. Pictures
Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
Fresh: 33 Rotten: 7
IMDB: 7.8 / 10
Empire Of The Sun Review
Christian Bale stars as Jim, a British kid born in Shanghai, the son of upper crust expatriates who feel the rising tide of Japanese-Chinese aggression will never reach there strata. Of course it does, and as the Japanese overtake Shanghai, Jim's family is torn asunder, scattering in the chaos. But eventually, like Ben-Hur, Jim returns home to discover his house in ruins and his loved ones gone, so he does the only thing he can think of -- surrender to the Japanese. Only the Japanese don't even want the worthless kid, until finally, after hooking up with a seedy scam artist named Basie (John Malkovich) and his flunkie (Joe Pantoliano), does he manage to get himself arrested and thrown into an internment camp where at least there is the promise of a daily potato and some gruel.
Spielberg was still early on in his Very Serious Movie phase back in 1987, so the film can get a little heavy-handed at times. There's an awful lot of staring at sunsets, watching planes fly overhead, and operatic singing courtesy of Bale's prepubescent rugrat. But looking beyond Spielberg's self-indulgence (the movie clocks in at over two and a half hours), Empire of the Sun is a gem about a kid trying to find his way all by his lonesome. The aristocrat is cut down, and we truly get a sense of what it's like for a child to learn about life outside of the familiar family world.
Side 2 of the new DVD release features the short film The China Odyssey: Empire of the Sun, a Film by Steven Spielberg, with Martin Sheen narrating the 48-minute story of the making of the film.