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 nominations for the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards are out, and, surprise, Justin Timberlake is leading the pack. He and Macklemore both have the most nominations with six each, including Video of the Year. Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus are also up for a few awards each, and of course familiar faces like Rihanna and Drake are in the mix as well. The full list of nominees is below.
Video of the YearJustin Timberlake, "Mirrors"Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Wanz, "Thrift Shop"Bruno Mars, "Locked Out of Heaven"Robin Thicke feat. T.I. and Pharrell, "Blurred Lines"Taylor Swift, "I Knew You Were Trouble"
Best Hip Hop VideoMacklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Ray Dalton, "Can't Hold Us"Drake, "Started From The Bottom"Kendrick Lamar, "Swimming Pools"A$AP Rocky feat. Drake, 2 Chainz and Kendrick Lamar, "F--kin' Problems"J. Cole feat. Miguel, "Power Trip"
Best Male VideoJustin Timberlake, "Mirrors"Robin Thicke feat. T.I. and Pharrell, "Blurred Lines"Bruno Mars, "Locked Out of Heaven"Ed Sheeran, "Lego House"Kendrick Lamar, "Swimming Pools"
Best Female VideoRihanna feat. Mikky Ekko, "Stay"Taylor Swift, "I Knew You Were Trouble"Miley Cyrus, "We Can't Stop"Pink feat. Nate Ruess, "Just Give Me A Reason"Demi Lovato, "Heart Attack"
Best Pop VideoBruno Mars, "Locked Out of Heaven"Justin Timberlake, "Mirrors"Fun., "Carry On"Miley Cyrus, "We Can't Stop"Selena Gomez, "Come and Get It"
Artist To Watch, Presented by Taco BellTwenty One Pilots, "Holding On To You"Zedd feat. Foxes, "Clarity"Austin Mahone, "What About Love"The Weeknd, "Wicked Games"Iggy Azalea, "Work"
Best CollaborationJustin Timberlake, feat. Jay-Z, "Suit & Tie"Pitbull feat. Christina Aguilera, "Feel This Moment"Calvin Harris feat. Ellie Goulding, "I Need Your Love"Robin Thicke feat. T.I. and Pharrell, "Blurred Lines"Pink feat. Nate Ruess, "Just Give Me A Reason"
Best Video With A Social MessageKelly Clarkson, "People Like Us"Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, "Same Love"Snoop Lion, "No Guns Allowed"Miguel, "Candles in the Sun"Beyoncé, "I Was Here"
Best Rock VideoImagine Dragons, "Radioactive"Fall Out Boy, "My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up)" Mumford & Sons, "I Will Wait"Thirty Seconds To Mars, "Up in the Air"Vampire Weekend, "Diane Young"
Best Art DirectionCapital Cities, "Safe and Sound"Thirty Seconds To Mars, "Up in the Air"Janelle Monae feat. Erykah Badu, "Q.U.E.E.N"Lana Del Rey, "National Anthem"Alt-J, "Tesselate"
Best ChoreographyChris Brown, "Fine China"Ciara, "Body Party"Jennifer Lopez feat. Pitbull, "Live It Up"will.i.am feat. Justin Bieber, "#thatPOWER"Bruno Mars, "Treasure"
Best CinematographyThirty Seconds To Mars, "Up in the Air"Lana Del Rey, "Ride"Yeah Yeah Yeahs, "Sacrilege"Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Ray Dalton, "Can't Hold Us"A-Trak & Tommy Trash, "Tuna Melt"
Best DirectionJustin Timberlake feat. Jay-Z, "Suit & Tie"Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Ray Dalton, "Can't Hold Us"Yeah Yeah Yeahs, "Sacrilege"Fun., "Carry On"Drake, "Started From The Bottom"
Best EditingPink feat. Nate Ruess, "Just Give Me A Reason"Calvin Harris feat. Florence Welch, "Sweet Nothing"Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Ray Dalton, "Can't Hold Us"Justin Timberlake, "Mirrors"Miley Cyrus, "We Can't Stop"
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The Last Of Robin Hood will focus on the controversial relationship between Flynn, played by Kevin Klein, and teenage actress Beverly Aadland, who was with him when he died in 1959 at the age of 50.
Flynn, who was cleared of statutory rape charges in 1942, was married to actress Patrice Wymore until his death, but romanced Aadland after casting her in his final film, Cuban Rebel Girls.
Susan Sarandon will play Beverly's mum Florence Aadland, who wrote 1961 book The Big Love about Flynn's relationship with her daughter.
The film is due for release later this year (13).
The film, The Last of Robin Hood, will focus on the final days of Flynn's life, just before the swashbuckler died from a heart attack, aged 50.
At the time, he was allegedly romancing teenage newcomer Beverly Aadland.
Susan Sarandon has signed on to play the youngster's mother, Florence, who wrote a book about the scandalous affair between her daughter and Flynn.
Production on the film is set to begin in January (13), according to Variety.
S7E17: I haven’t been too impressed with How I Met Your Mother’s 2012 output. For the most part, this year’s episodes have been unsubstantial, relinquishing Ted of the real meat his character once had and going and prioritizing gags over genuine story or character development. The series has historically proven capable of balancing humor and drama quite well, hence my disappointment. But this week’s “No Pressure” is a return to form—it might not be quite on par with How I Met Your Mother’s greatest moments, but it is certainly a formidable chapter in the romantic journeys of Ted, Robin and, a bit more subtly, Barney.
"I go camping in secret!" - Ted
Last week's episode ended with the bombshell of sorts of Ted professing his rooftop love to Robin, very shortly after her breakup with Kevin. Due to the flimsy mood of recent weeks, I felt that this was a strange and kind of clumsy move for How I Met Your Mother. But thinking generally, it was definitely inevitable. This week picks up immediately: Ted comes to realize that in the five years since his breakup with Robin, he has never stopped holding a candle for her. And riding a tidal wave of emotions resultant of the events of her past two days, Robin gives into the romance. She and Ted kiss. Unfortunately, the timing is sitcom-level inconvenient: Robin is forced to leave for Russia right away for a work assignment. But all the more time for Ted to mull the issue over with his brain trust…
"You need to go to Russia, with love!" - Lily Marshall (and an explicitly uninvited Lily) meet Ted at the bar immediately—he’d be hard-pressed to find better friends—to discuss the matter at hand. Marshall supports Ted, sure that he and Robin are meant to be together and glad that this step is finally being taken. Lily, on the other hand, discourages the union and tries to deter Ted from a romantic reconnection. Meanwhile, a hung-over Barney, sleeping off his previous night of riding the Drunk Train (as we saw last week), scours Marshall’s and Lily’s Long Island abode for the sex tape that Lily inadvertently convinces him she and Marshall made. While looking for the tape, Barney comes across something of more interest: a box marked “Long Term Bets,” containing documented evidence of bets that Marshall and Lily have been making about their friends. The severity ranges from “Marshall bets Lily that Robin will never return Lily’s hairdryer” to “Lily bets Marshall that Ted and Robin will not end up together.” That’s the one that gets the most focus.
“You’ve been betting on us? Like we’re a couple of hobos fighting over a sandwich in some psycho preppy kid’s backyard?” - Barney Barney rushes to the bar to disclose his discovery to his friends. Naturally, Ted takes the aforementioned bet to heart, recognizing that his love life and happiness have just been a means of entertainment for his two best friends. Truth be told, this is a pretty despicable thing to do, especially if it allows your advice to and interactions with either friend to be effected. It’s not something that surprises me in regards to Lily—she’s a manipulator, and a shameless one—but I am disappointed with pure-of-soul Marshall. Granted, he’s on the positive end of this bet, but it still trivializes his devotion to Ted. Then again, his unquestioned agreement to hop on any number of 46-minute trains to meet his best friend at a bar at a mid-morning moment’s notice (in addition to his actions at the end of the episode) kind of make up for it. Plus, you just can’t really be all that mad at Jason Segel. He brought back the Muppets, after all.
Despite her unfavorable treatment of his love life, Ted does recognize some of the veracity in what Lily has to say. She tells him that she truly does not believe that he and Robin belong together—the cause for the bet, not the other way around—and that if they actually did, they would have been together by now.Ted considers this back at his apartment, unable to come up with anything tangible that has kept him and Robin from finding each other. In bursts Barney, back once again from Marshall’s and Lily’s, where he managed to find the infamous sex tape (oh yes, it’s real). The show employs a pretty big leap in logic here: upon mere sight of Barney, Ted realizes that it is his dear perverted friend who has caused the permanent fissure between him and his beloved—Ted concludes that the reason he and Robin haven’t ended up together is because she is in love with Barney.
“Do you think that if we did it and I did a really good job, I could turn that into my baby?” - Barney I’m a Robin-Barney shipper. I guess I’m foremost a Ted-Robin shipper, but that defies the reality of the show. So, Robin and Barney it is. As such, I’m pleased that the show seems to be taking this route. But it does seem like Ted comes to this conclusion out of thin air. Ted informs Barney that Robin and Kevin have broken up, and we can see Barney suppressing his emotions about it. See, Barney is so desperately afraid of real rejection that he isn’t willing to even admit that he might still want Robin. She shot him down and broke his heart—he can’t fathom putting himself through that again. …Or can he? We’ll get to that.
“Barney, that was my VCR.” - Ted “Ted…it was a VCR.” - Barney After a whole shenanigan where Barney destroys Ted’s VCR over the anxiety of deciding whether or not to watch Marshall’s and Lily’s sex tape, we return to the serious plotline. Robin returns home, she and Ted talk, dine at the blue French horn place, and return to the apartment…where she informs Ted that they cannot be together. Ted insists that she confirm once and for all that she does not love him—she confirms—so that he can finally begin to move on.
“I think you know how you feel about me now, and I don’t think time is going to change that. Just tell me. Do you love me?” - Ted “No.” - Robin Here’s where Marshall redeems himself. Although Ted professes happiness with the solidity in their conversation, Marshall takes note of his friend’s pain. Thus, he tells Robin that she needs to move out so that Ted can move on. And she does. Cue a montage of Robin leaving, a heartbreaking Florence and the Machine ballad, and Ted entering a world of endless yellow umbrellas—ah, metaphors.
“Barney, you’ve really grown up, you know that?” - Ted “Thanks. Now let’s watch our two best friends have sex on tape.” - Barney But screw metaphors. The more important things to focus on: back home, Lily regretfully tries to cheer herself up by requesting that Marshall “pay up” regarding their bet over Ted and Robin’s relationship. Marshall, as he did all throughout and up to the disasterous end of Ted’s wedding to Stella, stoically replies, “Not yet.” Even after all this, Marshall is still sure that Robin and Ted will end up together—likely bolstered by Robin’s seemingly unsure reaction to Marshall informing her that Ted is at peace with the finality of their situation. If the show wasn’t built around the whole idea that they definitely won’t be together, this episode would excite me more than Desmond’s electric shock-induced return to Penny, J.D.’s cold shower realization that he was still in love with Elliot, or Shawn’s decision to move to New York with Cory (sorry, Topanga, but they belong together). But alas, it just feels kind of like a tease.
“Kids, when a door closes…well, you know the rest.” - Future Ted Thus, we hang our hats on Barney and Robin. At the very end of the episode, after Ted leaves Barney laughing alone in the bar, we see Barney reach for his phone. Now, there is no true indication that he’s calling Robin at this point. But come on. He is. She broke up with Kevin. Then, ended things “forever” with Ted. And now she moved out. And Ted’s “at peace” with it all. So, he’s calling her. I’m sure of it. There’ll be a signature HIMYM flashback to the scene where it reveals that he called her at this moment. It’s got to happen. The wedding is just a few months away! Do you think Barney was calling Robin at the end? Do you think Marshall is right about Ted and Robin finding their ways back to one another? Do you think Lily’s goes too far at times? Let us know in the comments section, or on Twitter @Hollywood.com or @MichaelArbeiter.
The first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.