I'm not a terribly good review writer, but here is what I thought about 47 Ronin after
four viewings in various incarnations.
Relevant information #1: This is not another movie about a white guy saving Japan. It is really really not a movie about a white guy saving Japan.
Relevant information #2: You should go see this movie. Because it’s good. And also fun. And also, if movies about white guys saving Japan piss you off, you might wanna see this movie to see how it can
be done. (See relevant information #1.)Not so relevant but @___@ information #3: Do not believe the trailers. Like, watch the trailers for the pretty but there are apparently eleventy different trailers around and half of them have nothing to do with the movie. I don't know what the promo department has been smoking. The good thing is that you can't really get spoiled by watching trailers!
I watched the movie for the first time expecting it to be 'Last Samurai with monsters', meaning: I expected to hate it, and just watched it for Jin.
I watched it four times now and am actively itching for the DVD release, and here's a hint: I love Jin a lot but he is really not in the movie enough to make that happen.Summary:
This is a movie about 47 masterless samurai, who, after the death of their master, are looking to avenge their master and reclaim their honour. Keanu Reeves is also in it.The not so good
, because it’s there and to get it out of the way:( Not spoilery if you have read anything or watched anything about the movie. )The really good
, or Reasons To Watch This Movie:( The not very spoilery unless you count history. )( More spoilery from here, though I don't think it'll ruin the movie for you. )On the different versions
I have now watched: original English audio, Japanese subs, 2D (twice); Japanese dub, 3D (once); modified English audio, European cut, 2D (once). I enjoyed listening to the Japanese dub to hear Jin and my new boyfriend speak Japanese, but I prefer the original English audio. I enjoyed the 3D version, but I didn't feel it added so
much that I'd go to great lengths to see it again – the movie was just as pretty in 2D. It was
a little funny when we watched the movie again in Scotland: this is an all-Japanese cast apart from Keanu Reeves, and everyone speaks with a Japanese accent, some more fluently than others. And I was literally just thinking, 'I wonder if that
hurt it overseas because unless you're a bit used to Japanese accents, some of these guys might be hard to understand for English native speakers,' when I noticed that the European release had a re-dubbed voice track for Kikuchi Rinko. ^_^ (Making her sound a) slightly less insane and b) more comprehensible. I have a lot of practice listening to Japanese-accented English by now, and it was only in the European release that I figured out 'thousands of your father's men are dead' is really 'dozens of your father's men are dead', which cleared up a big math WTF I'd had in three previous showings.) Everyone else's voice stayed the same.
three cuts I noticed, one I thought was a good editing choice, and two that were very poor editing choices. ( To wit )On pacing & other film type stuff
I watched it four times and I did not get bored once, or identified a part that was excellent for a toilet break. I also found the camera work really cool, the way scenes are cut into and out of, and how the camera moves. I am not a movie buff but this film looked
I don't think it's a spoiler to say that Jin is in about six minutes of the movie, so he's really not the main reason anyone would go see it more than once. He does look very pretty, and while he's got a small role, it's also an important role, and he's got his own little mini-arc – he's the one with the coming of age plot here.
I also thought he did a decent job with the role. He's cast to type, not against type – Chikara felt in many ways like Jin was playing himself if he'd been born as a samurai's son minus any Bakanishi elements. And there's nothing wrong with that. He doesn't get that
much to do for long stretches, either -- he mostly gets to say 'Father!' or scurry off after someone tells him to 'go get your father'. He did have a few moments where he looked to me more like a guy who had 'Must. Look. Intense' going through his head than a guy who actually was intense, but on the whole I found him believable and just right. (The scene where the ronin sign their declaration before going into battle in particular is very nice, subtle but intense.)
I do wish we'd gotten better footage of him fighting. He does fight, but in general the sword fights were not magnificent pieces of cinematography, they were just all right.
We do know from when he was filming that he had lots of scenes with Keanu, and you can actually see in the film that there was some sort of subplot involving Chikara and Kai that got cut – there are SO MANY SCENES that either end with Kai and Chikara somewhere together, or cut in when Chikara and Kai are somewhere together, that it really looks like there was a friendship plot that got filmed and then extremely truncated.
Now, please note that I'm not saying it was a bad decision to cut that; I would have loved to have more Jin, but for all I know, those would have been the scenes that would have tipped it over into 'white guy explains the way of the world to Japanese dude' or whatever. I really don't know. The development of this movie after it was shot is so disaster-ridden and weird that it's impossible to tell anymore who insisted on what and what sorts of politics went into the editing. But god, I hope we will get at least some of this as deleted scenes. (Also, honest to god, just from what was left
in the movie, I'm almost certain that if that subplot – for better or worse – had stayed in, Kai/Chikara would so
be a Yuletide pairing.)
And one final note:( Very spoilery. Do NOT read this if you haven't seen the movie and still plan on going. Trust me on this. )
The movie is not a masterpiece, but it is a very solid, well-paced, well-acted film with some silliness around a true emotional core, and some very excellent parts. It is well worth watching.
These were my thoughts and feels. What were yours?