The genesis of Universal's 47 Ronin is almost as tragic as the actual history that the movie is culling from. As the story goes, Universal saw the sprigs of talent sprouting from fresh faced director Carl Rinsch, whose previous experience was limited to just a couple of commercials and a nifty short film. The studio decided to ease the new director into feature filmmaking by cutting him what amounts to virtually a blank check, and giving him charge over a multi-national samurai fantasy epic. Almost impossibly, the film isn't a complete disaster. It's just a minor one.
47 Ronin follows the classic story of the titular team of warriors, a group of disgraced samurai who band together to seek revenge against a merciless warlord that betrayed and killed their master. But this isn't your grandfather's version of the story. 47 Ronin is an international affair, and it's covered with a veneer of Japanese mysticism and a thick coating of Hollywood lacquer, but east meets west rather uncomfortably, and it's mostly due to Keanu Reeves. Reeves' character is clearly crowbarred into the story that has no room for him, and it's plainly obvious where the seams of the story were stretched in order to patch him into the narrative. Reeves plays Kai, a half Japanese, half English orphan who is adopted by the samurai clan. His character serves no real purpose beyond being white, slicing things until they die, and playing the male lead of the most superfluous love story of the year. Rinsch simply can't make the inclusion of the character feel organic in any way, and "Kai" ends up feeling like a calculated studio move. It's a shame that the film spends so much time on Reeves when the real star is clearly Hiroyuki Sanada, who plays off the stoic samurai most believably among the rest of the cast.
It's also shame that with all the mysticism pumped into the story, there's no magic in the actual center of the film, the ronin themselves. The only personality trait a samurai is allowed to possess seems to be unerring stoicism, and between all 47 ronin, there are probably only three distinct samurai with any discernible character traits beyond an intense need to brood, and you'll probably only remember those three by the time the credits roll, only to promptly forget about them only a few hours later. Thankfully, Rinko Kikuchi's slinky and treacherous witch adds some much needed camp and personality to the mostly forgettable human characters.
And that's the issue with 47 Ronin. It's largely forgettable. When your film takes on a historical legend like the tale of the 47 ronin, a story that has been told and told again ad nauseum over the years, you really need to justify your own version. There are reels and reels of film dedicated to this story, and 47 Ronin doesn't manage to add anything significant to the canon. It promises to weld myth and history together, but does so clumsily, and while some of the action scenes are exciting, especially a particularly inspired set piece that involves the ronin noiselessly breaking into a heavily guarded fortress, the film is a bore when it's not clanking swords together.
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47 Ronin is a film with many stories. As much as it is a tale about the revenge of four dozen masterless samurai, it's also the tale of an inexperienced filmmaker swallowed up by the enormity of blockbuster filmmaking. Most of all though, It's proof that you shouldn't cram Keanu Reeves into a movie that doesn't really need Keanu Reeves. What you're left with is a dull and bloated samurai epic that has its moments, but feels largely unnecessary.
The beginning of August brings blood-stained tears to our eyes. Yes, it's a bummer that summer's coming to a close way too soon, but we're mostly saddened that the end of True Blood is near. Can you believe we're only two episodes away from the sixth season finale? This season flew by almost as fast as it took Bill to behead Governor Burrell.
But we don't have to bid farewell to this season of True Blood quite yet! We still have a hell of a lot of drama going down in Bon Temps! So, let's clear up some of the gory and bloody bits that this week's episode bombarded us with.
Feisty FellowsThe episode starts off with Eric and Bill in a fight because Bill's all like, "Let's go save our kind!" And Eric's like, "Dude, chill, my sister just died, give me a hot sec." So then the two verbally bash each other. And can I just say that I do love watching two hot gentlemen get all worked up?
Even Werewolves Have A HeartAlcide's pack is PISSED – and I mean pissed, hence the caps – since Alcide lied about Nicole and her pals' deaths, which causes Rikki to challenge Alcide to take over a pack-master, but Alcide's ripped as anything so he obviously kicks her ass…
Sam against Alcide's orders comes back to Bon Temp to mourn over Terry's loss, but since Alcide's not so chill with his pack right now to say the least, he tells Sam its quite alright to be in town… Alcide even returns Nicole and her momma to Sam, and the two bond as the throw back some shots. Aw! We missed Alcide's sweet side, glad to have the handsome hunk's heart back in the game. Oh, and to add to the shifter/werewolf drama-mill, we find out that Nicole's preggers… yet, she has no effing clue. But hey, I guess Sam's superb sense of smell is good for something, eh?
Arlene In The KnowBack at Arlene's pity-party in memory of Terry, Lafayette (who rocks a killer headscarf, might I add) shares with Arlene that thanks to life insurance, Arlene's entitled to two million dollas. After finding out that Terry purchased insurance only a few short days before he got shot and killed, Arlene melts down as she realizes that it was his choice to exit from the world for good. Ugh, that poor ginger!
Go Out In StyleSarah Newlin, whose been busy lying her ass off about Governor Burrell's death, gets a surprise visit from a True Blood rep Ms. Suzuki, who threatens to call the FDA on Newlin's ass for contaminating True Blood, which elicits quite the cat fight to go down and Sarah ends up beating Suzuki to death with a stiletto heel. If you're going to go out, might as well go out in style, eh? P.S. Can we talk about just how bats**t crazy Sarah is?
Adelyn's all grown up and not only is she making out with Holly's son but also attracting Eric, well kind of, the vamper just needs some fairy blood pumping through his veins. But it's downright hilarious when Eric glamours Holly's son scrapping memories from his mind, including the image of Adelyn's naked. I don't think Eric feels guilty for sinking his fangs into Adelyn, but at least he feels a bit of remorse for seizing the memory of her rack!
Here Comes The SunSteve Newlin squeals to Sarah that it was James, who clued him in about the contaminated True Bloods, Sarah threatens to squish all the vampers refusing to drink their True Blood rations into the dreaded circular room along with Steve and James into…. and yeah, this room looks like the one from Bill's vision! Oh snap!
And after Violet and Pam get into a tiff over Violet hogging Jason, the guards realize their refusing to drink the True Bloods as well. So the two gutsy gals along with Tara, Jessica, and Willa get pushed into this room. At least Jessica is kind enough to warn her vampire friends they are destined to meet the sun. But let's be real, a warning that you're about to fry up and die isn't going to worry you any less about frying up and dying. But thanks for trying Jess! Major kudos.
Fairy-Vampire Bride to BeBack in fairy world, Sookie tries to convince Warlow to offer up his super powered blood to save the vampire race, but he's only down to become a donor if Sookie will be his one and only forever and always. Sookie's hesitant to become Warlow's "fairy-vampire bride." But after a visit to her parent's grave where she gives them a final "F**k you," she reveals how she'd rather roam the world as a corpse than die and rot by her parents' side.
Sooke gets all glammed up for her lover boy Warlow, but by the time she arrives to fairyland with Bill, Warlow's not in good enough shape to walk down the aisle. The endearing fairy-vamp suffered a nasty attack from Eric. And I was just picking out my dress to wear to the wedding… Damn!
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It's Emmy time! The 64th Primetime Emmy Awards nominations are here, and the television industry will no doubt be audibly buzzing over the next two months leading up to the awards telecast on Sept. 23rd (which will be hosted by Jimmy Kimmel).
Kimmel (who stepped in for scheduled presenter Nick Offerman, wearing nothing but his pajamas) and Kerry Washington announced the nominees from North Hollywood early this morning. So who made the cut?
American Horror Story and Mad Men emerged on the top, with 17 nominations each. Downton Abbey, in its first year submitting as a regular drama series, swept through the acting categories with the aplomb of an experienced butler: in addition to six acting nods, the show earned 16 nominations (along with the miniseries Hatfields & McCoys). Hemingway & Gellhorn earned 15, Modern Family and Saturday Night Live both earned 14, and Breaking Bad (which rewarded not only Walt, but Jesse, Gus, Skyler and Tio!), 30 Rock and Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia each rounded out the top with 13 noms. See the rest below: Best Drama SeriesBoardwalk Empire Breaking Bad Downton Abbey Game of Thrones Homeland Mad Men Best Comedy SeriesThe Big Bang Theory Curb Your Enthusiasm Girls Modern Family 30 Rock Veep Best Leading Actor in a Drama SeriesHugh Bonneville, Downton Abbey Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad Michael C. Hall, Dexter Jon Hamm, Mad Men Damian Lewis, Homeland Best Leading Actor in a Comedy SeriesAlec Baldwin, 30 Rock Don Cheadle, House of Lies Louis C.K., Louie Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory Best Leading Actress in a Drama SeriesKathy Bates, Harry's Law Glenn Close, Damages Claire Danes, Homeland Michelle Dockery, Downton Abbey Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men Best Leading Actress in a Comedy Series Zooey Deschanel, New Girl Lena Dunham, Girls Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie Tina Fey, 30 Rock Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep Melissa McCarthy, Mike & Molly Amy Poehler, Parks & Recreation Best Miniseries or MovieAmerican Horror Story Game Change Hatfields & McCoys Hemingway & Gellhorn Luther Sherlock Best Leading Actor in a Miniseries or MovieWoody Harrelson, Game Change Clive Owen, Hemingway & Gellhorn Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia (Masterpiece) Idris Elba, Luther Kevin Costner, Hatfields & McCoys Bill Paxton, Hatfields & McCoys Best Leading Actress in a Miniseries or MovieJulianne Moore, Game Change Connie Britton, American Horror Story Nicole Kidman, Hemingway & Gellhorn Emma Thompson, The Song of Lunch (Masterpiece) Ashley Judd, Missing Best Reality CompetitionThe Amazing Race Dancing With The Stars Project Runway So You Think You Can Dance Top Chef The Voice Best Reality HostTom Bergeron, Dancing With The Stars Cat Deeley, So You Think You Can Dance Phil Keoghan, The Amazing Race Ryan Seacrest, American Idol Betty White, Betty White's Off Their Rockers Best Variety ProgramThe Colbert ReportThe Daily Show with Jon StewartJimmy Kimmel LiveLate Night with Jimmy FallonReal Time with Bill MaherSaturday Night Live Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad Giancarlo Esposito, Breaking Bad Brendan Coyle, Downton Abbey Jim Carter, Downton Abbey Jared Harris, Mad Men Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones Best Supporting Actress in a Drama SeriesArchie Panjabi, The Good Wife Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey Joanna Froggatt, Downton Abbey Christina Hendricks, Mad Men Christine Baranski, The Good Wife Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy SeriesEd O'Neill, Modern Family Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family Ty Burrell, Modern Family Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family Bill Hader, Saturday Night Live Max Greenfield, New Girl Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy SeriesMayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory Merritt Wever, Nurse Jackie Julie Bowen, Modern Family Kristen Wiig, Saturday Night Live Sofia Vergara, Modern Family Kathryn Joosten, Desperate Housewives Best Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or MovieSarah Paulson, Game Change Frances Conroy, American Horror Story Jessica Lange, American Horror Story Judy Davis, Page Eight (Masterpiece) Mare Winningham, Hatfields & McCoys Best Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or MovieEd Harris, Game Change Denis O'Hare, American Horror Story David Strathairn, Hemingway & Gellhorn Martin Freeman, Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia (Masterpiece) Tom Berenger, Hatfields & McCoys Best Guest Actress in a Comedy SeriesDot-Marie Jones, Glee Maya Rudolph, Saturday Night Live Melissa McCarthy, Saturday Night Live Elizabeth Banks, 30 Rock Margaret Cho, 30 Rock Kathy Bates, Two and a Half Men Best Guest Actor in a Comedy SeriesMichael J. Fox, Curb Your Enthusiasm Greg Kinnear, Modern Family Bobby Cannavale, Nurse Jackie Jimmy Fallon, Saturday Night Live Will Arnett, 30 Rock Jon Hamm, 30 Rock Best Guest Actress in a Drama SeriesMartha Plimpton, The Good Wife Loretta Devine, Grey's Anatomy Jean Smart, Harry's Law Julia Ormond, Mad Men Joan Cusack, Shameless Uma Thurman, Smash Best Guest Actor in a Drama SeriesMark Margolis, Breaking Bad Dylan Baker, The Good Wife Michael J. Fox, The Good Wife Jeremy Davies, Justified Ben Feldman, Mad Men Jason Ritter, Parenthood Best Writing for a Comedy SeriesCommunity, Chris McKenna for "Remedial Chaos Theory"Parks and Recreation, Amy Poehler for "The Debate"Parks and Recreation, Michael Schur for "Win, Lose, or Draw"Girls, Lena Dunham for "Pilot"Louie, Louis C.K. for "Pregnant" Best Writing for a Drama SeriesDownton Abbey, Julian Fellows for "Episode 7"Mad Men, Semi Chellas and Matthew Weiner for "The Other Woman"Mad Men, Andre Jacquemetton and Maria Jacquemetton for "Commissions and Fees"Mad Men, Erin Levy and Matthew Weiner for "Far Away Places"Homeland, Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon, and Gideon Raff for "Pilot" Follow Marc on Twitter @MarcSnetiker More:2012 Emmy Awards: Our Predictions! 2012 Emmy Longshots: Our Picks!