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.
A Blink-182 concert in Hollywood on Thursday night (07Nov13) was marred by drama after a fan fell from a balcony. The group was performing onstage at the Hollywood Palladium when a gig-goer, believed to be a friend of the group's, tumbled over a second-storey balcony railing and landed on his head.
The fan, who was covered with blood, was taken to a nearby hospital, where he is still being treated for his injuries.
Eye witnesses at the concert tell WENN he was dazed but responsive as he left the venue on a gurney.
It is not clear if the unidentified fan's injuries are life-threatening.
Meanwhile, Blink-182 will be back onstage in Los Angeles next week (beg11Nov13) when they play three nights at the Wiltern Theater.
The trio is reportedly in touch with the injured fan's family.
Eminem's childhood home in Detroit, Michigan - which features on the cover of the rapper's new album, The Marshall Mathers LP 2 - has been wrecked by a fire. The second floor of the two-storey home was badly damage when a blaze swept through the property on Thursday (07Nov13).
Former The Smiths rocker Craig Gannon has hit back at singer Morrissey over his controversial memoir, accusing the star of telling "bitter lies" in the book. Guitarist Gannon, who toured with the How Soon Is Now? hitmakers in 1986, was the target for several catty remarks in the tome, including Morrissey's belief that hiring him was "a fascinating bungle".
In the book, titled Autobiography, Morrissey also takes a personal swipe at Gannon, writing, "Nothing useful vibrates in Craig's upper storey".
Now the guitarist has hit back, posting a message on his Facebook.com that reads, "Blatant bitter lies, all will become clear very soon..."
The message was posted on Thursday (31Oct13) but had been removed by Friday morning (01Nov13).
It came less than a day after another popular music industry figure, former The Smiths studio engineer Stephen Street, also blasted Morrissey for using the book to make cruel comments about his former colleagues.
Street, who worked on three of The Smiths' four studio albums and co-wrote tracks for Morrissey's solo debut Viva Hate in 1988, insists he is "amazed" by some of the "b**chy" comments in the book and believes it has finally killed off any remote chance of the band reuniting.
Hotpress.com quotes Street as saying, "People have often asked me, 'Do you think The Smiths will ever reform?'. I always thought it unlikely. Having read three-quarters of Morrissey's book I would now say there's not a hope in hell.
"Honestly, I am amazed at some of the character assassinations and jibes at certain people's appearances in the book. People might say, 'Well, you got off lightly', and I agree I did but I don't enjoy seeing other people who contributed to the success of the band and his solo career being put down in such a b**chy matter. What does it achieve?"
Madonna has boosted her already impressive bank balance by selling off her Beverly Hills mansion for an $8 million (£5.3 million) profit. The Material Girl paid $12 million (£8 million) for the huge estate in 2003 while she was married to her second husband, director Guy Ritchie.
She put it on the market for a mammoth £22.5 million (£15 million) in January (13), and despite America's rocky real estate industry, the star's realtor Kurt Rappaport has managed to sell the home to a Wall Street banker for $20 million (£13.3 million).
The property boasts 15 bedrooms, nine bathrooms, a two-storey dining room, a gym, and a 500 foot (152.4 metres) driveway.
The star still owns houses in New York and London.
A promotional campaign for new TV show Marvel's Agents Of S.h.i.e.l.d. has sparked a number of calls from concerned citizens in London after a fake crime board was placed in the city centre. A blue and yellow poster board, designed in the same style as local police notices, was erected in the British capital's Soho district on Friday (27Sep13), warning passers-by of "suspected extraordinary activity".
The realistic-looking promo adds, "On Tuesday 24th September a hooded male jumped from a 5th storey building and survived after carrying out a dramatic rescue. Did you see or hear anything? Please call the Strategic Hazard Intervention Espionage Logistics Directorate."
The notice is accompanied by a local London phone number, and callers receive the following recorded message: "Thank you for calling the Strategic Hazard Intervention Espionage Logistics Directorate... All of our operators are currently busy working on the cases... The case you care calling about has now been closed. As part of the agency's new transparency initiative, video of the incident in question will be broadcast (in the U.K.) on 27 September (13)."
The promotional stunt has fooled many and pictures of the board are now circulating on Twitter.com.
Funnyman Stephen Fry appeared to have been among those who fell for the prank, tweeting a snap of the sign and adding, "Goodness! There's a (story) there. Location (Golden Square) included... any witnesses. Was it Batman?"
The show, starring The Avengers' Clark Gregg, premieres in the U.K. on Friday night (27Sep13).
Texas star Sharleen Spiteri and her camera crew were chased away from a music video shoot after failing to obtain proper filming permits. The Scottish singer recently filmed the promo for the band's new single, Detroit City, in Michigan but they decided against going through official channels in a bid to keep costs down.
Spiteri admits the whole shoot in Detroit was carried out "guerilla-style" and one scene ended in disaster when they attempted to film outside the Motown Records building.
She tells Britain's Daily Record newspaper, "It was made very clear at Motown that you are not allowed to film or take photographs... It's very strict... We thought we would get some footage out front, but as I stepped on to the grounds, the security man was on to us right away. He was well mannered, but when we told him it was personal footage, he asked why we had a camera crew. He explained that they ask you to apply to film and that there is a cost attached. We got chased."
The star carried out a number of similar stunts during the two-day shoot, including filming on top of a multi-storey parking lot, and Spiteri admits they did a good job keeping their tiny budget in check.
She says, "You do it guerilla-style now and try to capture moments... (Getting permits is) far too boring. Maybe the rebels in us are coming out in our old age. The truth is, you apply and wait. There wasn't time. In America they are very strict about stuff like that. You can get a ticket for crossing the road. It's a cheaper way of making a video. We made so many videos over the years and some we paid a helluva (sic) lot of money to make that are s**t. We used a good camera crew, but didn't need to pay for scripts and directors."
Mad Men star John Slattery has made it clear he will not be voting for New York mayoral candidate Christine Quinn in this year's (13) election after clashing with the politician over the construction of a sanitation garage in his posh neighbourhood. The actor is convinced Quinn, the current Speaker of the New York City Council, will not make a good leader if she is selected as the Democratic choice to fight for Michael Bloomberg's post this November (13) because she refused to listen to residents' opposition to the development of a massive garage in Soho back in 2008.
Famous locals including Slattery, Jennifer Connelly, Kirsten Dunst, Lou Reed, Michael Stipe and the late James Gandolfini all complained about the negative impact the $400 million (£267 million) plan would have on their neighbourhood, but Slattery claims Quinn ignored their concerns during a key City Council hearing and instead spent all of her time on her cell phone.
He tells the New York Post, "Christine Quinn literally did not look up from her telephone. When it came down to the people of the city... she could not have been less interested."
The 10-storey public works facility is due to open near the stars' homes next year (13).
Rockers Kiss thrilled a wounded war veteran at a gig in Wisconsin on Saturday night (20Jul13) by pulling him up onstage and handing him the keys to a new home. The bandmembers were performing at Rock Fest when they halted the set and asked Roman Rivera and his wife to join them onstage.
Frontman Paul Stanley told the crowd, "We have special guests with us tonight I'd like to bring out... Roman Rivera and his wife Michelle... Roman is a Wisconsin native, everybody. He is also a decorated veteran. He was severely injured during his combat tour in Iraq by an improvised bomb. He is a tried-and-true hero.
"We have the privilege of presenting Roman and his family with a mortgage-free, two-storey, four-bedroom, three-car attached garage home in Janesville, Wisconsin. Again, completely mortgage-free. Please join me in congratulating Roman, and thank you to everyone for their service to our country!"
The big gift was made possible by officials at the charity Military Warriors Support Foundation.
Scottish actor Ewan Mcgregor is among the stars to have applauded a group of Greenpeace activists who scaled a London landmark on Thursday (11Jul13) to highlight environmental issues. Six female supporters of Greenpeace headed to The Shard, a 72-storey skyscraper, in the early hours of Thursday (11Jul13) to climb Britain's biggest building to raise awareness of oil and gas drilling in the Arctic.
The Trainspotting star took to his Twitter.com page to back to the protesters and share a link to a live video stream showing the climb, writing, "Six woman climbing the Shard for Greenpeace. Check out the live stream... Greenpeace protest against Arctic drilling by Shell. Amazing bravery."
Singer Annie Lennox added, "Here's an example of risking life and limb for a cause you believe in", while Radiohead rocker Thom Yorke declared, "Protesters climbing 'the Shard' London to p**s off Shell (energy company). Nice!"