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.
S4E8: “There’s no such thing as forever.” - Sookie
The latest episode of True Blood offers insight into the aftermath of Antonia’s meeting-the-sun spell. Jason proves most helpful in reaching Jessica in time before she fries to a crisp by pinning her down on the ground, which of course results in a lip-lock between the two. There's nothing like a near-death experience to bring two beings together. Meanwhile, Marcus is all about keeping his werewolf pack out of this vampire-witch war and commands the group to stay out of it (something I feel Alcide is going to have a hard time with). Sookie and Eric decide to celebrate him not meeting the true death by swapping blood with each other and becoming blood buddies for life, which turns into quite the blood-induced sexual experience even for this show’s standards. Can we have the less sappy Eric back now please?
It certainly seems like a night for making enemies. In a shocking plot twist, Sam finally encounters Luna’s possessive ex-husband who unexpectedly turns out to be none other than Debbie and Alcide’s pack leader, Marcus. Lafayette gets possessed by the French lady that’s been serenading Arlene’s baby, which results in Lafayette kidnapping both demon-baby and creepy doll, all under the spirit’s influence of course. In more exciting news, Bill’s whole “let’s make peace, not war” plan results in Sookie getting shot with her usual vampire hunks unable to come to her rescue, but don’t worry cause Alcide is more than willing to pick up the slack while Debbie watches from the sidelines. Looks like Sookie is about to pick up yet another enemy.
“I’m not made for this. I have a hunger in the very center of me and this you and me…I can’t, it’s not enough.” - Jessica
Jessica definitely hogged the spotlight, or rather the sunlight in this episode. Just as she is about to meet the sun while under Antonia’s spell, Jason rushes in to save the day in a dramatic, slow-motion display and knocks her back inside the house. Jessica tries to bite him, but the spell wears off just in time and she decides to kiss him instead. As is normal for most teenager girls, Jessica continues to let her emotions get the best of her, so now that she’s discovered a new prospect in Jason, she’s ready to say goodbye to Hoyt as her main human squeeze. Her fantasy break-up includes Hoyt crying and her smashing his head on the counter, killing him. The reality version consists of Hoyt bursting out in a fit of rage and telling Jessica that he deserves someone who’s not going to be a virgin, infertile, and dead for all eternity while rescinding her invitation at the house. This makes her go run off to Jason who rejects her saying he couldn’t do that to his best friend and rescinds her invitation from his house as well. So in the end, Jessica ends up guyless and homeless all in one night, proving that teenage vampire dating is just as difficult as teenage human dating.
Ep. 44 Clip - Bill Issues a Statement
“So that’s it…a single vampire dies?” - Antonia
Eric suffered injuries from being trapped in silver all night and doesn’t heal quickly due to the fact that he hasn’t had any blood since sucking the life out of Sookie’s faerie godmother. So Sookie offers herself as a blood bank to heal his wounds, which in turn leads him to offer his blood to her, claiming that the two will be one together (just when he think he can’t get any sappier). Both high off each other’s blood, things develop a very Narnia vibe when they hallucinate that the shower transports them to a winter wonderland and proceed to have sex on a bed covered in strategically placed fur. So basically they spend a majority of the episode exchanging a variety of bodily fluids with each other and whispering sweet nothings to an annoying and ridiculous extent. Warning: vomiting and eye rolling may occur while watching this. The two eventually snap out of their little loony, love fest and put their supernatural abilities to good use when they decide to team up with Bill who requested a meeting with Antonia.
Antonia of course becomes very upset to learn that her spell only ended up killing one vampire who apparently didn’t get the memo about wearing silver to bed. Andy was called in to investigate the “suicide” and had a hard time resisting the urge to get his V fix off the dead vamper. Seriously, can this plot point either progress to something new or just disappear altogether? After Bill makes a press statement, claiming that the death was a suicide, he calls Antonia and after some excessive apologizing and talking out of his ass, he gets her to agree to meet him to discuss making peace.
“Oh hell…f**k this s**t.” - Lafayette
Body possession seems to be a growing theme throughout this season. Poor Lafayette can’t get a break from the supernatural. If he’s not being chained up by vampires, then he’s being used as a medium by spirits. When Lafayette gets possessed by the French singing ghost, we learn why she’s taken such an interest in Arlene’s baby. She lost a baby of her own when she had an affair with a married man who killed the infant as a way to get rid of any evidence of the infidelity. The creepy burn-doll was actually a gift she had bought for her child before she came home to an empty crib. She then uses Lafayette’s body to pull a child abduction heist and steal the demon-baby and doll away from Arlene and Terry. These spirits are certainly projecting their past aggression on innocent humans and vampires – first Antonia and now this French lady. Someone needs to sign them up for some major therapy sessions ASAP because their issues are getting completely out of hand.
Speaking of using bodies, Tommy is up to his old, annoying ways and decides to take on the form of Hoyt’s mom, Mrs. Fortenberry, in order to sell her land right out from under her and pocket some cash for himself. But no bad deed goes unpunished – after transforming back to his old self, Tommy once again falls to the ground, vomits and passes out.
Ep. 44 Clip - Marcus Adresses His Pack
“I can forgive him for killing our folks, but I can’t forgive him for what he did to you.” – Sam
Sam heads over to Luna’s house to let her know that he kicked Tommy to the curb for sexing her up while in the form of Sam’s body. All is forgiven and things are starting to look up for the pair, that is until Luna’s ex decides to show up for a visit who, in a surprise twist, turns out to be none other than Marcus and he is not happy that a new man is hoarding in on his territory. Evil glares are given, threats are made – looks like Sam just traded one pain in the ass in for another and should definitely expect a confrontation from this pack leader in the future.
The episode continues to end on an even more exciting note where the battle between witch and vampire begins…in a cemetery fittingly enough. Bill arrives with Sookie, Eric, and others in toe while Antonia herself has her group of misfits including Tara by her side. Talking quickly escalates to attacking as both parties proceed to fight for their own righteous purposes. Bill shows that he’s still a softy at heart when he forbids Pam to kill Tara now or ever, leaving Tara in his debt whether she wants to be or not. Eric comes face to face with Antonia who has the same fiery look in her eyes she had when she first cast the amnesia spell on him before. Could this mean that our former bad-ass vampire is about to get his memory back? Meanwhile, Sookie gets shot and with both Bill and Eric indisposed, neither is able to come to her rescue. Luckily, Alcide decides to break his word to both Marcus and Debbie to stay out of the whole vampire-Sookie mess, and rushes to her aid while Debbie jealously watches in the background. And so Sookie’s list of enemies continues to grow…that is if she’s still alive to even care.
Ep. 45 - Preview
"If I can’t have you I don’t want to be alive." Pathetic, clinger boyfriend alert. – Hoyt
“You would eat a pile of dead vampire Beulah Carter OFF THE GROUND?” Because that’s the really gross part of that sentence? – Jason
“I’m only good on the V, dude.” And you're not even that good then. – Andy
“Can we make love in it?” and “We will be one.” I could provide a complete list of all the ridiculously sappy things he says throughout the entire episode. – Eric
“I think I made some friends tonight. A couple of really nice bitches. Feels like I belong.” Well if the shoe fits... – Debbie
“You just pissed on the wrong boots my friend.” That’s what I call a fashion faux pas. – Marcus
“This is so f**king lame.” You gotta love Pam, she’s had a hard year, but the shots seem to be working at least. – Pam