BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELL
APRIL 5, 2014
Too often does Hollywood take the path of overindulgence, expanding so much on one simple idea to the point where you hardly recognize the original story? “47 Ronin” is this epitome of a simple story masqueraded with so much flare and convoluted with so much mythology that the studio fails to see the golden story that they originally had. Based on Japanese lore about a real-life group of forty-seven masterless samurai seeking revenge for their master, at first glance, I was truly hoping for this century’s greatest samurai tale. Even with Keanu Reeves as frontman, I was willing to see this as a bigger budget step up from Tom Cruise’s “The Last Samurai,” filled with sword fights and revenge, capitalizing on an American made version of films like “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.” However, the “47 Ronin” that you hope for is not the one that you get.
The more creatures and shapeshifters that are added to the film, the lower this film falls in quality, often taking the easy ways out instead of CGI rather than practical effects. None of the fight sequences hold any sort of memorable qualities and the brash attempt at a love story is laughable at best. Keanu Reeves holds his own next to the extremely capable sword fighters like actor Hiroyuki Sanada as Oishi, the leader of the Ronin, but neither man ever really comes into their own enough to cause for applause. Having just recently viewed “Babel,” my respect for the Academy Award-nominated actress Rinko Kikuchi is at an all-time high (also starring in “Pacific Rim”) and despite the character, she is given, Mizuki the witch, Rinko does a superb job at fitting the villainous role, in look and demeanor. Thrilling on the most basic of levels, I do have to give the film-makers at least some credit for following through with the poignant ending that could have easily been ruined with a change of heart. Not to say this iteration of the Japanese tale is not entertaining, but for what it could have been, this film misses its mark.
December 25, 2013
Walter Hamada (story)
(for intense sequences of violence and action, some disturbing images, and thematic elements)