The Carrie Diaries is a fun retro series about a young girl finding her footing in big city Manhattan in the 1980s. The girl in question … Carrie Bradshaw of Sex and the City fame. The only issue with the series is that it’s a new take on wildly popular characters we have come to know in six seasons and two films. Since we’ve known these characters for more than 10 years, can a series really justify making changes?
The series follows Candace Bushnell’s Carrie Bradshaw’s life more closely than the version we know from television and films. However, this Carrie does call into question our perspective about the unlucky in love fashionista. Can a girl with such fabulous teen years be so relatable?
1. Carrie's Daddy Issues
Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) didn’t have a dad in the HBO series. In the episode “A ‘Vogue’ Idea” she confesses that her dad abandoned her family. This explains why she was consistently drawn to older men like Mr. Big (Chris Noth) and Aleksandr Petrovsky (Mikhail Baryshnikov). However, in the CW teen series, Carrie (AnnaSophia Robb) has lost her mother. Her father Tom Bradshaw (Matt Letscher) is doting, attentive, and pretty respectful. The shift does work to change the way we'd analyze the behavior of adult Carrie, just a bit.
2. How They Met
In the Sex and the City 2, Carrie describes how she met all of her friends: first Charlotte (Kristen Davis), then Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), then finally Samantha (Kim Cattrall). However, on the Carrie Diaries, young Carrie meets a young Samantha (Lindsey Gort), who is cousins with Carrie’s sex-obsessed school rival Donna LeDonna (Chloe Bridges). From a narrative perspective, it makes sense. Young Carrie has a friend like Charlotte in overachieving Mouse (Ellen Wong) and snarky Maggie Landers (Katie Findlay). Also, Samantha is a fan favorite. But it calls into question why the show would alter the canon if it would so readily pander to fans of the HBO series.
3. Carrie's Lost Virginity
Older Carrie confesses she lost her virginity in a Sean Bateman’s rec room on a ping pong table (something more or less... relatable). In The Carrie Diaries, rather than losing her virginity to her boyfriend Sebastian Kydd (Austin Butler) she loses it to a young playwright Adam Weaver (Chris Wood). This is symptomatic of the need to paint a young Carrie Bradshaw of having fabulous teenage years. If she grows up to be a “the last single girl” at 40 years old who makes poor choices with men, money, and her life the series seems more like a tragedy.
4. The Escapades of Samantha
Gort’s portrayal of Samantha is the right blend of a wink and a nod to Catrall’s unique cadence and over the top behavior with a fresh take on the character. Catrall’s Samantha represented successful women with more traditionally "masculine" attitudes on sex. Echoing adult Samantha's business savvy, Gort’s Samantha can scam her way into something fabulous. She isn’t as sex-obsessed as Catrall’s Samantha, but she does have sex pretty indiscriminately in the 1980s with AIDS on the rise. The prospect of Samantha having a ton of sex for 30 years is a little excessive if you stop to think about it.
5. Carrie Doesn’t Struggle at All
Adult Carrie is always struggling but handles it with grace. She can’t pay her bills but can use her cache in Manhattan nightlife to still live fabulously. However, young Carrie has no real problems. She’s upper-middle class, is able to accept an internship at Interview magazine during with her school schedule, and she has rich boy after rich boy interested in her. The series is lighthearted and doesn’t really offer Bradshaw any character building struggles. So why is the woman we meet in her adult years so harried?
Here's a video that shows all the similarities of the two series.
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.
The best player in the World for movie trailers, Hollywood interviews and movie clips.
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.