Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

Trailer for 47 Ronin is finally here

Keanu Reeves’s latest has had a troubled gestation

Wed, Jul 24, 2013, 22:06


And we mean finally. The phrase “troubled production” is sometimes a little overused. But it if applies to any film then it applies to¬†Carl Erik Rinsch’s 47 Ronin. Based on a durable Japanese legend — once filmed by Kenji Mizoguchi no less — the picture has been kicked around so long World War Z ends up seeming like a relatively smooth operation. If you saw the very decent documentary on digital cinema Side by Side, you will remember that Keanu Reeves, its presenter, introduced several clips from the film to illustrate various points being made. When that doc emerged, many months ago, 47 Ronin was already looking like a bit a disaster. We now know that it will not be with us until the end of this year.

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The trailer looks, well, a bit chaotic. Let’s fling everything at the screen and see what sticks: a bit of Pirates of the Caribbean, a bit of classic wuxia, a lot of digital sweep. It may, of course, be perfectly good fun. It doesn’t look as if the picture is short on incident. It is, however, hard to see how it can make any serious return on its $175 million budget. Only one ageing star? A niche genre? An action film released amid Oscar season? We wish you the best, Mr Reeves (we always do). But I wouldn’t count on this revitalising your career.

If it does flop badly then we are looking at a year full of serious cinematic calamities (financially at least): Lone Ranger, Pacific Rim, Turbo and so on. Meanwhile left-field movies such as The Conjuring — a modestly budgeted horror coming our way next week — end up triumphing. Some rethinking may well occur at Hollywood’s top table. That would be no bad thing.