Film review: 'Emperor's Club' is 'Dead Poet Society' knock-off

    Morality can be thought of as the right or proper way a person should live one’s life. “”The Emperor’s Club”” is a test of how we conduct our lives in light of the expectations that are placed on a moral world. Ethan Canin’s short story, “”The Palace Thief,”” is the framework of this film, which deals with the true nature of people and the journey to define morality.

    This movie does not succeed in what it sets out to accomplish. It is more a meditation on manipulation and cliche than a compelling tale of virtue. “”The Emperor’s Club”” demonstrates the injustice of dramatic movies today: the manipulation of the audience. The audience is driven to laugh or gasp at the slightest substandard plot twist, which is bewildering. There is no compassion in “”The Emperor’s Club”” — only the illusion that morality exists, perpetuated by the professor’s teachings and actions.

    The plot is none other than a recycling of many other inspirational teacher flicks, ranging from “”Dead Poets’ Society”” to “”Mr. Holland’s Opus.”” From the rebel to the nerd, the students are developed as archetypes with no true depth. These characters can never truly develop when given a cliched teenager role, as seen when the young Sedgewick Buck (Emile Hirsch) cheats in a trivia game. This distinct role as the rebel will never release him from predictable stunts and a formulaic plot.

    Kline’s portrayal of the rousing professor is the backbone of “”The Emperor’s Club.”” The passion that exudes from his demeanor and presence is a formidable performance, which is complemented by Emile Hirsch, who resembles Leonardo DiCaprio in his early days.

    Even though the acting is compelling, nothing can save this rehashed, sappy morality tale.

    Emperor’s Club

    **

    Universal Pictures

    Starring Kevin Kline

    In theaters Nov. 22

    Rated PG-13

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