Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Hey! We Saw a Movie! - 47 Ronin

Jonny and I saw the highest grossing film of the year... back in May. But shortly after Christmas, we caught the martial arts fantasy hodgepodge 47 Ronin.  What follows are our thoughts. We have tried to keep the spoilers to a minimum. 

Toaster's Contribution - I think that 47 Ronin has gotten an undeserved bad reputation. It seems like many critics were expecting Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, when they should have been expecting 300.  47 Ronin was based on a comic book (based on the Japanese historical legend). Nobody should have entered that theater expecting anything more than a stylized, geeky popcorn flick.

As far as stylized, geeky popcorn flicks go, 47 Ronin achieved what it was going for. It had some big flaws, but I was entertained. Granted, I’m a sucked for martial art/samurai films anyways. Even if the movie looks awful, I will have an inclination to want to see it.

One big problem that people had was the inclusion of Keanu Reeves, an obvious Hollywood addition to help sell tickets (a strategy that apparently belly-flopped). He was not, however, just passed off as Japanese. Reeves’ character, Kai, was specifically written for the film as a “half-breed” of an Englishman and a Japanese woman. (Given that he is part Chinese, that’s not too far off the mark.) Subsequently, his character is treated like crap throughout the film. I honestly thought his character works well in the movie, even adding that Kai’s docile and soft-spoken nature reflects Reeves’ own… ahem… acting style.

But boy were there flaws. First and foremost, the movie trailers and posters highlighted two characters that really didn’t have screen time… one of them REALLY not having any screen time. The first is that one awesome looking samurai in the menacing armor. We got some time with him earlier in the film, in which he was built up as an absolute bad-ass. However, in the big climactic battle at the end of the movie, the armored samurai was just sort of blown up before it could do any real damage. What a bunch of bullshit! The climax of the movie was separated into two battles. You had Keanu Kai fighting the witch that can turn into a dragon (sadly the lovely and talented Rinko Kikuchi can’t catch a break in Hollywood after Pacific Rim bombed earlier in 2013!) and Oishi, the leader of the 47 Ronin versus Lord Kira (played by Tadanobu Asano from Ichi the Killer… so henceforth he will be known as Kakihara!) You had a whole mess of other ronin that could have been fighting someone… why not that armored samurai? That would have been awesome! The makers of the movie blew a great opportunity there.

The other character that was heavily advertised was that tattooed guy (who is in actuality Rick Genest aka Zombie Boy). I know why he was featured so prominently… he looks really cool! There is an instant air of intrigue and mystery with him. And that’s apparently why he was in the movie for less than ten seconds. That’s not an exaggeration. It was no more than a cameo. What the hell was that? The makers of the flick could have found some use for him, seriously! Even if he hadn’t been advertised, I still would have been wondering about the tattooed guy for the rest of the movie.

The climax of the movie was a little disappointing. It was okay, but I wanted more grandiose battles. When you build up the story to such an over the top level, as the makers of 47 Ronin did, the film deserves an ending that goes all out. For instance, earlier in the movie, Lord Kakihara was shown to be a prolific sword-fighter in his own right, yet when he fought Oishi, he spent most of the time running for his life. I would have preferred a bad-ass fight between the two. Keanu and the witch had a good fight, but there’s was about it. Kakihara’s forces, shown throughout the film to be formidable and numerous, might as well have been made of paper with how easily they were taken down! I would seriously be way happier with 47 Ronin had the climactic battle been bigger, more intense and a little longer.

I’m also not sure about the ending. It was a… sort of happy ending? Like in a deranged bittersweet way.  It may have been factual, even in the comic book the film was inspired by, but it was also fracked up.  I won’t give it away for those who haven’t seen it, just be warned that I wouldn’t consider it a “feel good ending.”

And now Jonny Prophet will prove to the world why he is full of haye... 

Jonny's Contribution -  Well this what happens when Hollywood  gets hands on classic story from another land. That being what it is, Kai (Neo) was added so white people could relate to a story featuring people that don't look just like them! (Neo also kept some of his Matrix powers, which was weird) . But the real problem with the movie is that they show me Zombie Boy in the adverting and he was just a random pirate in film.  I mean that's cool , but only on screen for 10 whole seconds... wow,  what a fucking let down. Not unlike after I saw the midget in milk-droid...

 (Note: Jonny is referring to a bad Japanese cult film called Mikadroid: Robokill Beneath Disco Club Layla and yes there was a random 'little person' shown at the beginning and yes the movie was so bad we were left wondering what the midget was up to all through the flick as we were sure it was more entertaining than what we were watching.)

... I spent the whole time wondering what the hell Zombie Boy was up to while the movie had long since left him behind. Really, what was the midget doing with the 5 other guys in that apartment? Zombie Boy is perfect for a villain in any movie, but instead he's just a lame pirate and you screw around with the classic story.  Dammit Keanu, I blame you for all this, some days I don't know if should shake your hand or hit you in the face.  You screwed up Constantine movie, I blame you for the Watchmen movie (yes, I know he had nothing to with it... I don't fucking care!) and now he's trying to ruin Cowboy Bebop! Spike Spiegel is not 50!  grrrr

Hopefully everyone followed that perplexing diatribe. Join us next time when we literally braved the elements and risked our lives to see short people walk a lot... and a cool dragon. Until next time, Stay Strange!

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