47 Ronin (3D)
Cert: 12A / 119 mins / Dir. Carl Rinsch
Director Carl Rinsch brings us a festive offering of feudal folklore, managing (just about) to explain the presence of Keanu Reeves in an otherwise Japanese cast. As with Crouching Tiger, you'll get the most enjoyment out of the telling of the story, rather than the details themselves. That's not to say that the tale trips itself up at all, but remember that this incarnation of the tale is Chushingura (read: fictionalised/embellished) and the nature of the fable almost seems at odds with 3D cinema in 2013 (despite needing that same technology to bring it to life). At times Lord of the Rings and at times Pirates of the Caribbean, the film is at its best when it shows the magical powers of a few of the characters, being largely accepted by everyone else. It's important to remember that within the context of the story, witchcraft is a thing; it can't be used by everybody, and it's not all-powerful, it just is*1. All in all, I found 47 Ronin highly entertaining as a self-contained vehicle for a story I wasn't previously familiar with.
As much as I like Keanu*2, I can't help but feel that 47 Ronin would have a bit more 'heft'*3 if someone else had been cast in the role of Kai. While he's central to the story (particularly the more fantastical elements of the myth), it's Ôishi (Hiroyuki Sanada) who drives the plot forward. That said, Kai's stoicism and downtrodden demeanour are perfect for Reeves, and he plays the role well; I'm just aware that his very presence is a bugbear for many critics. But whatever, Reeves doesn't showboat in the way that Cruise or Jackman would. #miaow
On a personal note, I found it quite satisfying to see the Samurai become the Ronin, then become the Ninja to return to being Samurai. It pushed my buttons, anyway…
While it's true that 47 Ronin won't be for everyone, how many movies are? For a deftly assembled tale of honour, humility, sacrifice and badass witchery, you won't go too far wrong here. Even the 3D is reasonably rendered, which for live-action is a plus.
The film's a little more leisurely than that trailer, but it's no bad thing..
For me, yes.
It's meant to be watched big, so cinema for best results.
I think I heard one buried in there, but I'll err on the side of no.
Spoilers - Highlight to read: How many films can you think of (particularly ones released at Christmas) where a mass suicide is the happy ending?
*1 In other words, no, they can't just jump on to the eagles and drop the ring straight into the volcano.
*2 Well, I don't mind him. He's good in the right roles, I suppose. This is one of those. IMHO.
*3 By which I mean the panning that the film's currently receiving from the critics (unfairly, in my opinion). Had the film been made with another actor, or featured Japanese dialogue with subtitles, I think we'd be looking at a different aggregated score.
• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
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