This live action version of the manga is apparently not a straight adaptation of its source material but does feature the titular butler with a similar cast of characters. The premise involves a young woman named Genpo Shiori, who seeks revenge on the people who murdered her parents. Aiding her is her butler, Sebastian whose many talents also include uber-fighting skills and talking to cats. Sebastien is actually a demon who made a deal with Shiori. In exchange for his services, she would give him her soul to consume after she had avenged her parents. The story in the film is mainly about Shiori investigating a series of deaths where rapid mummification appears to have occurred, which initially doesn’t appear to have any relation with her personal revenge mission.
There are some very nice shots of the mansion and the fancy rooms inside where Shiori lives and the action scenes are good (who knew a butter knife was so deadly). There are genuine moments of unpredictability because even though Sebastian is essentially invincible, he’s not always at Shiori’s side to protect her. Plus since he’s a demon, he always has some tricks of his own that’s he’s hiding. The ending is satisfying and the clash of beliefs between Sebastian and Shiori concerning human nature is well played. There is also a moment that is complete fan service but I’m sure the fan girls won’t mind (I sure heard them in the Fantasia audience scream in happiness).
As someone who is not familiar with the manga, I enjoyed the movie quite a bit. There are some parts that are too exaggerated even for the premise but it generally didn’t feature the over-acting that I’ve seen in other manga adaptations. Although you do have to accept that Shiori somehow manages to pass herself off as a a boy (the gender bender of the clark kent disguise). There is enough background given on the characters and their relations so I didn’t feel like I had to have read the manga to make sense of anything. I don’t know how fans of the manga will feel but I liked the characters and thought the actors were very good. If a sequel is made and there is certainly room for it, I would be interested.