Empire of the Sun

Steven Spielberg is a legendary director, one who has made himself synonymous with the word ‘Hollywood’. He’s one of the most talented and versatile filmmakers of all time, dipping his toes into every genre imaginable. One of his many strengths is his ability to work with child actors, which he has demonstrated time and time again in his movies. He has a unique ability to connect with young performers and make them feel comfortable on set, allowing them to deliver their best work. This is showcased the best in a little-known film of his, Empire of the Sun.

How to Download Empire of the Sun

You can download the film from a digital store. You can also stream it. Click on the Download button at the end of this review and make your choice.

The Movie Review

Based on J.G. Ballard’s autobiography, Empire of the Sun tells the story of Jim Graham, a privileged English boy living in Shanghai during World War II.

Jim is used to a life of luxury, but when the Japanese army invades the city, his world is turned upside down. Jim is separated from his parents and taken prisoner by the Japanese, along with other Westerners and Chinese citizens. As a young boy, Jim is initially fascinated by the military spectacle around him, but he soon learns that life as a prisoner of war is a far cry from his previous existence.

Spielberg’s visual artistry shines in this cinematic masterpiece, as he demonstrates the sheer level of confidence he has in his visual storytelling. The stunning camera work takes you on a journey that grips you from start to finish.

The storyline may appear erratic at times, with unexpected twists and turns, but if you’re willing to trade the comfort of predictability for the indulgence of sumptuous imagery and audacious character developments, then you’ll appreciate Spielberg’s innovative approach to stylistic filmmaking. That isn’t to say that this film has a bad story in any way, but it is much weaker than most other films of its kind. If you want better historical pieces, you may find Spielberg himself has done work that is better than this later on.

Steven Spielberg’s directorial prowess is unparalleled, though. He offers us an intimate portrayal of war and its impact on humanity, the film is like a collection of those old war-time photos you see in black and white, only realized as a full-fledged motion picture.

The only other film that does this better is Spielberg’s own Schindler’s List, which is even more visceral than this film. I do think that Empire of the Sun suffers from a slow-paced plot, with certain scenes dragging on for too long. Not to mention, some of the supporting characters lacked proper development, and their roles often felt underutilized to me.

Empire of the Sun showcases the exceptional talents of Miranda Richardson and provides a platform for budding actors such as John Malkovich and Ben Stiller. However, it is the young Christian Bale who steals the limelight with his outstanding debut.

The film is heavily reliant on Bale’s shoulders, resulting in the supporting actors not receiving adequate character development. Nonetheless, the entire cast delivers good performances, with John Malkovich, Miranda Richardson, and Nigel Havers all delivering stellar portrayals within the confines of their limited roles.

The Visuals

Spielberg outdid himself with Empire of the Sun’s presentation. This film featured some expertly crafted cinematography, lighting, scenery, and visual effects.

The images on the screen are a feast for the eyes, but they also serve a deeper purpose thematically. Spielberg expertly uses the visuals to create a sense of detachment from the harrowing scenes of war and death, creating a film that feels like a series of vivid, unalterable memories.

It’s clear that Spielberg’s artistic vision is on full display here, making Empire of the Sun a rather touching cinematic experience.

The Music

Let us also not overlook the awe-inspiring musical score by John Williams, which breathes life into some of the most memorable sequences and elevates the film to greater heights. Empire of the Sun boasts a lavish musical score by John Williams, that rivals even the grandest of David Lean’s cinematic epics. However, Spielberg employs the soundtrack in a unique way, using it to truly enhance the scenes of war, suffering, and loss with its ethereal nature.

This, in my opinion, is the film’s greatest accomplishment, it sets the mood unlike anything else.


Empire of the Sun, directed by the legendary Steven Spielberg, offers an introspective look at war and its impact on human beings. It is a powerful and thought-provoking film that showcases the futile nature of war while offering a poignant commentary on the resilience of human nature. While the film may not be without its flaws, such as the pacing issues and lack of character development for some of the other actors, its strengths are too strong.

Empire of the Sun will remain a critical point in every film student’s life, it is an important film.

Empire of the Sun
Empire of the Sun is a coming-of-age film based on a novel by English writer James Graham Ballard (1930-2009). Download it now and see what happened to Jamie "Jim" Graham.
8 Total Score
Empire of the Sun Review Summary

Sound & Music
  • Exceptional performance by Christian Bale, and decent acting by the rest of the cast
  • Visually stunning cinematography, by far its best aspect
  • Beautiful and haunting musical score by John Williams
  • Offers a poignant commentary on the futility and brutality of war
  • Slow-paced plot with some scenes dragging on for too long
  • Some roles feel underutilized
User Rating: 5 (1 vote)
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Zain Bhatti

Zain Bhatti

Zain is an aspiring filmmaker who has invested thousands of hours of his life into understanding films and the way they are made. He has a passion for films, a love for cinematography, and adores a film that breaks the rules to bring something refreshing to the table!

Apart from films he also has a love for video games with immersive worlds and adores any piece of consumable media that he can analyze for countless hours.