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Review: 47 Ronin, or 300 Minus 253 Men, Minus Interesting Plot, Minus...

[Note: I don't consider this to contain spoilers. I also don't consider anyone would be terribly dejected if it did.]

Since it's a chilly, snowy afternoon here, today seemed like a good day to catch a movie in the theater, which would hopefully mostly be empty. Decided to see 47 Ronin based on the trailer I had seen. The trailer caught my attention because it reminded me of 300 and my favorite aspect of that film — the motley parade of monsters and freaks the heroes had to battle, except with a lot less men and set in feudal Japan. Unfortunately, while 47 Ronin delivers with some monsters and freaks, it was mostly a parade of predictable characters and cliché dialogue. I am not too familiar with the original, real-life 47 ronin that served as inspiration, but the movie has the standard elements of a revenge tale after being dipped in Hollywood's secret CGI-sauce.


Some people will also see this movie as suffering from the "foreign white man as the savior" syndrome. How much of a groan-factor that aspect is to me depends on the quality of the overall story. In this case, it was the least significant of the issues and Keanu Reeves's character, Kai AKA Half-Breed, is technically half-Japanese, if that helps anyone.

The weak story aside, there are definitely a few scenes that were pleasing to my eye, particularly the harbor with European ships, which reminded me of classic chiaroscuro-styled European paintings, and the visit to the Tengu monks to retrieve some swords. For the latter scene, you just might find yourself recalling Batman Begins, when Bruce trains at the temple of the League of Shadows. But no need to stop there, this movie will likely make you recall probably a dozen other movies.

Should you see it? I would say skip it; at least until you can see it without paying anything outside of your Netflix subscription, if not outright for free.



Due to "popular" demand, and because I agree with the sentiment, honorable mention goes to Rinko Kikuchi's role as the sexy, scene-stealing witch. Her performance was also positively received by Charlie Jane Anders, as noted in her mainpage review.

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