Kuroshitsuji (2014 Black Butler live-action film)

This is your spoiler alert for the review that follows, as it may be more difficult to discuss without them than usual.

When the production announcement came down for the Kuroshitsuji 2014 live-action movie, it stirred quite a bit of attention. The studio wanted to make the film, but only if they could have Hiro Mizushima (Kamen Rider Kabuto, Hana Kimi 2007 ver.), who had retired from acting, come back as Sebastian. Luckily he said yes to playing the butler to Ayame Gouriki’s (Mirai Nikki, Gatchaman) Kiyoharu.

Having not read the manga, and only watching one episode of the anime (through no fault other than it was a free download, and I was ensconced in other series at the time), I’m not sure whether it was a good or bad thing to come into this movie with fresh eyes. The story opens in a warehouse, where Kiyoharu is being held with a group of girls.

Let me start over. Kiyoharu is a descendant of the Phantomhive family (establishing the link to Ciel), and he is actually a she. The Phantomhive’s family business can only be governed by men, so after Shiori’s parents were killed, she disappeared for a while, returning under an assumed name so that she could use her new status to take revenge for their murder. Going forward, I’ll be using male pronouns, since that’s how the character is primarily presented.

So after Sebastian steps in at the warehouse, takes care of business, and gets Kiyoharu home, they’re faced with a new task brought from the queen by Charles Sato (played by Yu Shirota [Great Teacher Onizuka 2012 ver., Arakawa Under the Bridge]), who also happens to have a personal stake in seeing the mystery solved. Some thorough detective work and carefully worded master-to-butler commands later, they think they have everything figured out… which is mostly true. Kiyoharu didn’t realize his own personal ties to case until it was almost too late.

Generally speaking, it wasn’t a bad film. It wasn’t my favorite, but I’m happy they went for Mizushima, as I’m not sure anyone else could have filled the role of Sebastian like he did. The fight scenes actually made the movie more than the story, especially with Rin’s “hidden badass”, to use the TV Tropes term. The one thing that really broke it for me, though, was at the end when Kiyoharu was dying from the poison. Sebastian held the antidote, put it in his own mouth, and then leaned in to give it to Kiyoharu. I actually found myself asking out loud if that was really necessary. Maybe I don’t know Sebastian well enough, but the act seemed a little over the top, when reading between the lines up until that point had sufficed.

The ending was left wide open, with the small mystery being solved but not actually catching the leader of the operation, so it will be interesting to see if they decide to continue the story in a second volume. I think watching this movie once was enough, but if a second one is produced, I’ll probably sit through it as well.

From what I understand, if you’re a fan of the original Kuroshitsuji story, this may not be the movie for you. But if you like any of the actors, it could be worth at least a passing glance.


Rathing: 3rd Gear

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