1/9/14

47 RONIN - REVIEW


Some movie concepts are just too good to pass up.

Nicolas Cage as a weatherman, John Travolta as an overweight woman, Keanu Reeves as a samurai...

Thank goodness for 47 Ronin for suggesting the latter!

Unfortunately, the film ended up costing nearly $200M and it's looking like 10 people went to actually see it, and that's including me. Problems between the studio and the director causing the budget to inflate ridiculously due to endless reshoots and stuff like that. Unlike flops like, say, John Carter or The Lone Ranger, you really can't tell where the money went with 47 Ronin, a film which looks like a $10M flick with some decent effects and some really awful ones not exactly helping justify the huge budget. The film doesn't look that great and is more akin to a B-movie like Season Of The Witch visually, which is not a good thing. Another issue is the ridiculous marketing which accompanied this movie: Hiroyuki Sanada, who plays the real main character in the film, is nowhere to be seen, Keanu Reeves looks like he's kicking ass when he actually does very little here and that skeleton dude is all over the posters when he appears in one short scene, doesn't do anything and just gets one line. That's simply insulting and desperate on the marketing team's part. This really should have been a $30M (at the most) samurai flick with Sanada at the centre of it, maybe an unknown actor in the Keanu role, and a focus on story and character rather than uneven CGI. As it stands, watching 47 Ronin just makes you wish you were watching the far, far superior 13 Assassins. As a samurai film, 47 Ronin isn't too bad, the story is interesting at least, but the editing is so awkward, the plot is so full of holes and some of the characters are so thinly defined that it just doesn't live up to its potential. More questions are raised than they are answered and not in a good way. What happened in the one year Oishi was locked up? Did Kai just not even try to get his lady back? What's with the big monsters? Why not clear things up with your master instead of letting all your friends get sentenced to death? It's one hell of a mess, I tell ya. Oh, and the 3D is so not worth it, again you can really see the money tumbling down the drain...

What a waste.

Now, I like a good samurai flick and there are elements I genuinely enjoyed about this movie. The witch, played by the beautiful Rinko Kikuchi is over-the-top as hell but adds a welcome threat and sexiness to the proceedings. The Japanese cast is mostly quite good actually, especially Sanada who begs to have this movie all to himself, without Ted "Theodore" Logan getting in the way. Keanu Reeves is so miscast in this movie it's distracting. Lumbering around or standing in the background looking confused, the man is clearly not having any fun here and clearly doesn't give a crap, not even attempting a performance throughout. They might as well have cast Steven Seagal at this point. As awful as the fox special effects are in this movie, the ending confrontation between the witch and Kai looks pretty good and delivers in the spectacle department. In fact, the movie itself is altogether entertaining so it gets that right at least, even if it's mostly clunky in its execution. You keep expecting 47 Ronin to be either quite good or hilariously bad but neither really happens, you're instead left dipping in and out of either side depending on the scene. By the time that "based on true events" credit appears, you should be chuckling pretty loudly, though. This is probably one of the dumbest films I've seen in a while. First of all, it's a 12A samurai film with NO blood, save for a monster's black blood at one point. How do you make a movie which includes countless sword battles and mass suicide without showing a drop of blood?! This is also a film in which a witch uses her hair to hold chopsticks in order to eat sashimi, and I'm not even kidding. I wish I could make that stuff up! Alright, so 47 Ronin didn't make me smarter and will probably lose hundreds of millions of dollars at the box-office. As just a B-side OTT swords and sorcery flick, I've seen worse and far more dull than 47 Ronin. It's certainly a failure in what it was trying to achieve but, if you ignore budget, marketing etc., what you're left with is an extremely silly yet amusing samurai Hollywood flick, nothing more.

Quite possibly the biggest flop we'll see until, I'm just throwing it out there, Jupiter Ascending, 47 Ronin suffers from a chaotic production, a nonsensical post-production and a miscast sort-of lead as well as multiple inconsistencies in terms of its plot and its visuals. It's a doomed project with little hope of success but it's, at least, a relatively involving doomed project with little hope of success and I guess that makes it not a complete failure.


Bogus.

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