'47 Ronin' has been panned before its Christmas Day release.
As the world's movie theaters prepare to load up the 47 Ronin reels from Christmas Day this year, there seems to be a real concern in the air over whether there'll be any audience to show it to. Keanu Reeves, of The Matrix fame, takes on another action role in director Carl Rinsch's new action drama.
Reeves plays Kai, a half-English, half-Japanese outsider who is beaten and sold into slavery. Kai joins a small group of Japanese samurai warriors. The group are exiled after the dishonourable death of their leader and Kai is enlisted into the "47 Ronin," an elite group of fighters who vow to seek revenge against the army that has killed their master.
Though the forty-seven ronin were a real-life group of samurais who did avenge their leader, Reeves stars in this fictional account of the 18th century warriors that is embellished with fantastical beasts and villains. The trailer shows breath-taking special effects, intricate fight scenes, ferocious monsters and intricate costumes but was the film's superb production enough to save it from the jaws of reviewers?
Digital Spy is particularly ascerbic when reviewing 47 Ronin, with Ben Rawson-Jones branding Rinsch's film "unfailingly atrocious from start to finish." "A turgid backstory is vomited onto the screen in a chaotic and cluttered opening," he writes, spitting acid over the action-packed war drama.
Twitch Film takes issue with the historical context of 47 Ronin, reporting "there is no clear evidence that anybody involved, not least the film's scriptwriters, ever set foot in Japan [...] 47 Ronin feels more like "Clash of the Titans in kimonos" than any previously filmed version of the story.
Twitch also laments Hollywood's use and abuse of some of Japan's most revered actors. "Japanese actors Sanada Hiroyuki and Asano Tadanobu often look uncomfortable and embarrassed [because] a revered chapter of their nation's history is being turned into a sub-par Lord of the Rings adventure," James Marsh writes.
It's hard to find an out-and-out positive review for 47 Ronin but of all the film's features, it's cinematography and special effects stand out as the most lauded, if that's ever going to be a word associated with this movie. Variety assesses the film to be "visually dazzling" but takes the shine from the compliment with the remark that "he film teeters on the verge of bad-movie damnation" and complains that Rinsch's epic is "confusing" with "old-fashioned" greenscreen work.
Den of Geek follows the same vein of review: "47 Ronin is colourfully designed and sometimes exquisitely detailed" but asks "why the more fantastical elements were introduced to such a traditional story." Although the "Japanese actors are saddled with an English script [that] surely hampers their ability to fully express themselves," the cast of villains, witches and warriors is praised for "sheer presence."
It was always going to be a gamble for Universal to back the relatively low experienced director's $170 million project, especially appointing an actor as divisive as Reeves.
Keanu Reeves Is An Outcast-Turned-Samurai In The Rather Panned '47 Ronin.'