47 Ronin

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Disclaimer: I am totally unfamiliar with the true story upon which this movie is based and make no claims to be an aficionado of Japanese cinema or culture. Therefore, this review is totally objective and focuses solely on the merits of the film itself. I absolutely loved this gorgeous and deeply moving tale spiked with fantasy from Feudal Japan, an intrinsically formal society steeped in tradition and protocol, where every movement had specific meaning and honor was paramount. From a purely artistic perspective, the film is visually stunning with amazing cinematography, spectacular costumes and tremendously well done fantasy elements, as well as rather clever and subtle use of light and shadow. Keanu Reeves is excellent as a stoic outcast (at no point does he say “Whoa” or “Dude”), and the rest of the ensemble cast deliver marvelous performances.  The Shogun is dignified and powerful (even though he always looks as though he is sucking on lemons) and the Witch is deliciously creepy while frequently looking slightly disheveled, a great contrast to the other characters that are always scrupulously neat. Lord Kira is unbearably smug, making this quest for righteous vengeance all the more satisfying. “A man may not live under the same heaven as the murderer of his lord.” This is the story of good men and women willing to do whatever is necessary to avenge a great injustice, no matter what it costs them. Warning, for those of you who suffer from arachnophobia, there is a disturbing sequence beginning at precisely 28:14, but it isn’t very long. Thrilling and engrossing, with little sprinkles of humor, a few well-crafted scares and precise choreographed action throughout, I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. It is heartfelt, poignant, philosophical, romantic and utterly spellbinding. – BETHANY

For more on this version of 47 Ronin, visit the Internet Movie Database

 

A David and Goliath moment.

The Shogun comes to visit, accompanied by Lord Kira.

See what I mean about him looking like he’s sucking on a lemon?  Shogun Tsunayoshi (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa).

Terrible beasts attacking the kingdom!  Cool CGI, I’ve gotta say.

Kai (Keanu Reeves) and Ôishi (Hiroyuki Sanada).

        Lord Kira (Tadanobu Asano).  So self-satisfied and arrogant, you just want to bash him!

                                     An illicit romance between Kai (Keanu Reeves) and Lord Asano’s daughter Mika (Kô Shibasaki).

      Lord Asano (Min Tanaka), a good man, if not the best father.

Mika being forced to wed pompous Lord Kira.  Would congratulations or condolences by more appropriate?

The witch (Rinko Kikuchi) pays a little visit to Mika.  Any chance she just wants some girl talk?

              The disgraced Ronin.

Oh, but they’re not done.  Sign here and vengeance shall be ours!

Dutch Island.

Going in search of a myth and also supplying the obligatory quest formation shot with all the horses in a row.

There really is some fabulous scenery in this movie.

Huh, legendary supernatural fighting monks have bird eyes.  Who knew?   The suspension of disbelief necessary for this movie is in its own category.

And here are a few creatures that look like that escaped from Pandora. Neytiri, you might want to come get this lot.

 

That’s it, wrap it all up in white and use words like tradition and honor and that makes it all OK.  The cherry trees are a nice touch.

 

 

Photos courtesy of H2F Entertainment, Mid Atlantic Films, Moving Picture Company, Stuber Productions and Universal Pictures
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