’47 Ronin’ Review

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Dir:  Carl Rinsch

Cast: Keanu Reeves, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ko Shibasaki, Tadanobu Asano and Rinko Kikuchi

Synopsis: A band of samurai set out to avenge the death and dishonor of their master at the hands of a ruthless shogun

 

*Reviewer Note: This will be a non-spoiler as always.*

 

The movie tells the legend, based on real events (most likely with some liberties), about 47 loyal samuri who become ronins –masterless – when their leader is forced to commit ritual suicide after he’s accused of attacking a Lord named Kira.  It’s one of the most well known legends in Japan and is one of the most beloved stories about vengeance and showing the virtues of the Bushido code.  Needless to say, the ronin go to avenge their lord.

The ad campaign stresses two things: Keanu Reeves and fantasy.  But don’t be fooled, despite Keanu being one of the main characters, this movie also belongs to Hiroyuki Sanada (The Wolverine) who plays Oishi.  Oishi is second-in-command to Lord Asano and Sanada gives a great performance ranging from honorable soldier to a lost and broken man to a man that will do anything for his men.

Reeves plays Kia, a “half-breed” and as a child was found by Lord Asano (Min Tanaka) in the forest.  Despite claims that taking him in was a bad idea he took him in.  As Kia grew up he then started to develop a relationship with Asano’s daughter Mika.  But their love can never happen because of Kia’s social status. Reeves does his usual thing acting wise so there’s nothing really to say about him.

The other notable face is Rinko Kikuchi (Pacific Rim) who doesn’t have a name and is only referred to as The Witch.  She helps our other villain Lord Kira played by Tadanobu Asano (Thor, Ichi the Killer) who is trying to take over the land and then takes Mika (Ko Shibasaki) as his bride.

Kira taking Mika really pushes the story and she serves (next to the revenge aspect) as the damsel in distress, although she isn’t entirely helpless. She also serves as the romantic arc for her character and Kia, which is the only real reason Kia decides to go along on the mission despite knowing the now-ronins never accepted him in the first place.

Getting past the cast, 47 Ronin is beautiful to look at.  The costumes and practical sets are very detailed and every time something new is shown your eye goes right to it.  The other great part of the movie is the action.  Being a samurai movie you know there is bound to be great swordplay and in truth there is.  The final attack on Kira’s palace is one of the better set-pieces and sequences.  Everything that was built from the moment our samurais become ronins pays off.

The ending I know will have some people questioning but personally I found it bold. And bold in the sense that I’m glad they didn’t try to change anything.

All in all, 47 Ronin is a movie off a tale of vengeance, love and honor.  Although not perfect the movie is a lot of fun and has great action sequence to please anyone that watches it.

 

47 Ronin

4 out of 5

‘Pacific Rim’ Review

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Dir: Guillermo del Toro

Cast: Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, Burn Gorman, Max Martini,Robert Kazinsky, Clifton Collins Jr., and Ron Perlman

Synopsis: As a war between humankind and monstrous sea creatures wages on, a former pilot and a trainee are paired up to drive a seemingly obsolete special weapon in a desperate effort to save the world from the apocalypse.

 

*Review Note:This is a non-spoiler review as always.*

 

Set in future, humanity is in its seventh year of war against giant alien monsters known as “kaiju”, which emerged from a portal deep within the Pacific Ocean. In order to fight back, the world put aside their difference and banded together to create giant robots called “jaegers” that require two pilots to link minds in order to operate in what’s called “the drift,” as Charlie Hunnam’s character says “the deeper the connection, the stronger the bond.” However, the kaiju invasion becomes more and more overwhelming,and the jaeger program is on its last legs.

Former pilot Raleigh Beckett (Hunnam) is pulled back in by project overseer Stacker Pentecost (Elba) in order to make a last stand against the kaiju. With the help of rookie pilot Mako Mori (Kikuchi), Raleigh attempts to stop the invasion alongside other jaegers from different countries. Meanwhile, scientist Dr. Newton Geiszler (Day) is hunting down a kaiju brain, which may provide the key for closing the portal.

The tagline “go big or go extinct” is perfect for setting the mood. The action sequences are not only amazing to look at but it really brings you into the movie. The jaegers and the kaiju each have their own unique designs that distinguish’ each of them and doesn’t have the viewer think about how’s fighting. Seriously, the kaiju and jaegers have their own names like two the jaegers are named Gipsy Danger and Striker Eureka and one of the kaiju’s is named Leatherback. The actual fighting is a spectacle of its own. At times it feels like a boxing or wrestling match with the way Del Toro sets up the fight but it’s also an all out brawl as these giants hit each other with you can feel the hits.

One of the complaints that a lot of people have is the human element. Hunnam does a decent job as Raleigh although there are times were I wish he did a little more. Idris Elba plays the no-nonsense Pentecost well but behind his hard-ass exterior there is something there that makes us like him(you know, besides being Idris Elba). The standouts – of the human cast that is– is Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day and Ron Pealman who plays a black market dealer of kaiju parts. Day plays a kaiju expert and has his comedic moments but also plays it a bit serious. Rinko however is the real standout. Her character has the most emotional depth of the cast and holds her own against the boys and quiet literally when she has a practice fight against Hunnam’s Raleigh.

Other characters that pop up are Hercules Hanson (Martini) and his cocky pilot son Chuck Hansen (Kazinsky), Dr. Gottlieb (Gorman) who works with Day’s character and isa bit odd himself. Clifton Collins Jr. shows up as an operator to the jaegers and for you video game fans Ellen McLain aka GLaDOS from Portal plays Gipsy Dangers AI voice.

All in all, Pacific Rim is a true summer blockbuster that will have something for everybody. Yes, there are moments when the movie slows down but I don’t think it hurts the movie. The human element isn’t probably the strongest especially after the action sequences. If you want my opinion spend the extra money to watch it in IMAX 3D. It is worth seeing and I think might be the only way to truly experience the movie. Also stay a bit for the credits.
Pacific Rim

5 out of 5