Kevin Kline stars in The Emperor's Club, a teacher drama that has been often and unfairly compared to Dead Poet's Society. While not overly powerful, the movie features good performances and an entertaining story.
Kline stars as the assistant headmaster at a school for boys, who teaches ancient history in a compelling and thought-provoking way. He has always thought of himself as a guide, as a man hired to mold his students into civilized and thinking adults. That is, until he meets the frustratingly stubborn son (Emile Hirsch) of a United States Senator, who, though seemingly intelligent, chooses not to apply himself. Kline does not give up, however, and the boy soon becomes to blossom. However, as time goes on, Kline begins to suspect that his newfound favorite student may not be all that he's cracked up to be.
The Emperor's Club is a fun drama with enough highlights to fill its two-hour length. There's some comedy and pretty good classroom scenes featuring Kline, and I liked the progression of Hirsch's character throughout the film. The overall pace of the movie is good.
Compared to Dead Poet's Society, The Emperor's Club isn't anything special, but then again, can this movie really be compared to that Robin Williams classic? Sure, both are about popular teachers at a school for boys, but does the setting alone make a movie similar. Having just watched Dead Poet's Society not too long ago, I did not find that many similarities between the two, at least in overall plot. The theme of this film is quite different, and definitely takes another direction near the end.
That being said, The Emperor's Club isn't that much different than any other teacher-student movie out there. In overall look and feel, it is similar to Dead Poet's Society and a dozen other movies. It didn't really bother me, but then again, it didn't overwhelm me, either. The Emperor's Club has nothing so impressive or powerful to make me wholly recommend the film, and the mark of a good drama takes on that kind of trait.
The Emperor's Club is a decent, well-acted drama that is entertaining from beginning to end. It doesn't make any lasting impressions, but it is worth the time to sit through.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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