Imeh Akpanudosen/GettyCreated in 2006 as a way of acknowledging the best new acting talent, the Rising Star is the only BAFTA award that's voted for by the general public. Here's a look at the five nominees hoping to follow in the footsteps of previous winners James McAvoy, Shia Labeouf and Kristen Stewart at this year's ceremony.Dane DeHaanFollowing a seven-episode stint on In Treatment, 27-year-old Dane DeHaan then starred as troubled superhero Andrew Detmer in the gripping found-footage sci-fi hit Chronicle, appeared alongside former Rising Star winner Tom Hardy in the Prohibition drama Lawless and played Ryan Gosling's son in The Place Beyond The Pines. Following rave reviews for his portrayal of Beat poet Lucien Carr in Kill Your Darlings, DeHaan will next be seen in zombie comedy Life After Beth and perhaps more notably, The Green Goblin in The Amazing Spider-Man 2.George Mackay21-year-old Mackay has already picked up a Scottish BAFTA for his performance in last year's fishing tragedy drama For Those In Peril. Before that, he appeared in a number of children's fantasy adventures (Peter Pan, The Thief Lord), starred as one of the Bielski brothers in Defiance and played Clive Owen's son in The Boys Are Back. While 2013 also saw him star opposite Saoirse Ronan in How I Live Now and showcase his vocal talents in The Proclaimers jukebox musical, Sunshine On Leith.Lupita Nyong'oThe oldest nominee on the list, 30-year-old Mexican-born, Kenyan-raised actress Nyong'o is also the least experienced in front of the camera with short film East River and MTV Base's controversial drama Shuga the only productions listed on her filmography before she landed her breakthrough role, female slave Patsey, in Steve McQueen's awards favorite 12 Years A Slave.Will PoulterThe youngest nominee at just 20, Poulter began his film career in 2008's under-rated coming-of-age comedy drama Son of Rambow before landing the role of Eustace Scrubb in The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader. He continued to prove his talents in low-budget drama Wild Bill and stole the show from Jennifer Aniston and Jason Sudeikis as loveable dope Kenny in We're The Millers while this year will see him feature in British crime caper Plastic and the big-screen adaptation of The Maze Runner.Lea SeydouxBorn into one of France's most cinematic families, Seydoux grew up surrounded by a whole host of Hollywood stars and after working with the likes of Quentin Tarantino, Woody Allen and Ridley Scott, has gradually become one herself. A three-time Cesar Award nominee for her roles in The Beautiful Person, Belle Epine and Farewell, My Queen, the 28-year-old is an outside bet for an Oscar nod thanks to her compelling performance in the Palme d'Or winner Blue Is The Warmest Color.
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.