Saturday, April 26, 2014

47 Ronin (2013)

JohnnyTwoToes calls this big-budget flop a travesty of Samurai films

Before I watch a film, I try to do some research on its history, so to speak; material it is based on, production, filming and its cast and crew. 47 Ronin has had a troubled production from almost the start of filming. Costing a stunning 175 million dollars and grossing a paltry 39 million in the United States is not an auspicious beginning for director Carl Rinsch. Now to be fair, 47 Ronin did end up grossing 155 million worldwide but it still is regarded as a failure. Rinsch has only been involved with creating 3 or 4 short films and that is it and his titles have been either first or second assistant director and producer. Not much of a resume to be coughing up 175 million on a film. 

47 Ronin is based on a true story, although Rinsch's film has taken some liberties with some of the elements of the true story. Most notably a shape shifting female witch. The true story behind the film is that a band of masterless Samurai in the early 18th century, exact revenge on the man responsible for the death of their leader. The details are voluminous and, if you are interested you can Google or Wikipedia it, as it is a lot of reading but you get the picture. 

Apparently, Universal was so displeased with what director Rinsch had completed that they wrestled the film from him and completed the editing and post production on their own dime and time. First of all, these studios HAVE to start making wiser decisions on who to give hundreds of millions of dollars to. Secondly, ENOUGH WITH THE 3D!! 2013 (and now 2014) saw bad films from accomplished directors or novices who managed to spend an unGODLY amount of money on films that were, shall we say about as much fun as passing a kidney stone. 47 Ronin is one of those films. 

In spite of a great cast and the monumental budget, this film is so uninteresting that it disrespects the very people it tries to pay homage to. Keanu Reeves is Kia and he is a 'half breed' who is consistently spat upon by the Samurai that live in the village. Kia, of course, is a master of the sword himself but that matters not to the others. Reeves's character, Kia, according to the true story is supposed to be half British but my dog, Lucy is more British than Keanu is in this film. 

As the film progresses, it goes from bad to worse with one dimensional characters, thanks in part to a very poor script by Chris Morgan and Hossien Amini that is dull, dreary, and uninteresting even though it tries to be anything but that. Morgan and Amini have amassed a long list of thoughtful and intelligent scripts from Drive to The Fast and The Furious films. So I know they can write. What has happened to 47 Ronin is a travesty. Despite its nobelist intentions, this film is excruciatingly slow (at a runtime of 118 minutes) and boring with not one character I found the least bit worthy of screen time. 

While I look for the musical score in every film I watch, Ilan Eshkeri's score although it is excellent, is nonstop through most of the film. Rinsch's efforts to make the film an emotional one by cramming it almost from start to finish with Eshkeri's music suffocates it and never can the viewer soak up the emotion that the film maker's want us to feel. Instead, 47 Ronin is a slow death from a thousand cuts. 

If you want to see a good film about Samurai warriors you can brush up on just about anything from Akira Kurosawa to Edward Zwick's terrific film The Last Samurai with Tom Cruise. That's right. I said it....Edward Zwick's TERRIFIC film with TOM CRUISE, The Last Samurai. Skip 47 Ronin and save two hours of your life. Instead, watch some of the other Samurai films I have mentioned or take a few classes trying some underwater basket weaving classes. Even maybe take a cross country ballroom dancing course. 47 Ronin-*1/2 out of 4.


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