Monday, March 24, 2014

Stranded and Bored with 47 Ronin

I'm sorry, but the awesome you're
looking for is in another castle.

Look at this movie poster trio.  JUST LOOK AT IT!

Gah!  It makes it seem like these are all major players in what is going to be a samurai movie of epic proportions taking on the legend of the 47 Ronin and spinning it with Hollywood magic.  How can I put this so that it has the proper emphasis . . .


Seriously, except for the inclusion of Keanu Reeves (which is always a mistake), this movie should’ve had everything: samurai, cool CGI, samurai, demons, samurai, magic, samurai.

There are samurai in this film.  Kimono wearing, honor-toting, duty-bound, katana-swinging samurai!  That alone should have rendered the thing awesome without even trying.

But no.  No, that’s not the case.  Even with all those elements, this movie is not awesome.  It’s not even mediocre or cult-worthy.

Wow. I really can’t emphasize that enough.  Keanu Reeves and this movie did what I thought was impossible—made a samurai movie boring.  This include that iffy Tom Cruise The Last Samurai.  Sure, that movie was rife with historical and cultural inaccuracy, and no end of anachronisms, but it had at least two things that 47 Ronin lacked—plot and dialogue.

Raise your hand if you don't care about
Even Braveheart figured out the formula for amping up the level of awesome in a story for the sake of audience and box office appeal.

Which is what is so frustrating about 47 Ronin.  Here is a story that has had at least six different theatrical incarnations.  Each tells the basic story from the legend of the Loyal 47 Ronin, but delves into character, plot and dialogue such that you're never bored with the outcome.  Or at least mildly entertained.   

This is the first time that Hollywood has taken a stab at the classic tale, but it’s certainly not the first time they’ve adapted something from the Japanese cinema, and done an excellent job.  Just two quick examples: The Seven Samurai became The Magnificent Seven; Yojimbo became, among others, A Fistful of Dollars, Last Man Standing, and more recently Lucky Number Slevin.  So what went wrong here?  Everything, apparently.  Throwing money at the problems didn't make the problem go away.  Throwing CGI at it didn't do it either.

Avoid this.  Go watch James Clavell’s Shogun mini-series to restore the balance of awesome in your life.

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