Saturday, January 23, 2016

Crimson Peak (2015)

Hearing that this film is more visual style than substance would not have deterred me from the cinemas, but hearing that the storyline is predictable would have (and made me wait for it to come on TV), if not for Tom Hiddleston.

Watching this film was a bit of a fan-girl experience, because Hiddles didn’t make an appearance in Avengers: Age of Ultron, which means that the last time I saw him in something ‘new’, was three years ago in The Avengers.

Aside from this, the trailer was random enough that I couldn’t make head or tail, and it piqued my interest enough to want to know what happened without going to Wikipedia.

I guess I could blame my level of expectation on Stephen King. Stephen King had said (six months prior, at previews) that this movie was (and I quote) “fucking terrifying”, and the last time he said something like this was for the 1980s film The Evil Dead.

And everyone knew how that movie turned out, right? As I was telling people, Stephen King is still relevant, he's still putting out books every other year, so to me, there’s no reason I would doubt Stephen King's word on this.

In promos surrounding the movie's opening, the director has been saying (or ‘clarifying’) that the film is a gothic romance with ghosts, rather than a horror movie with romance thrown in.

So it’s not like, ‘buyerviewer beware’, or anything. But despite above ‘warning’ from Guillermo Del Toro, I went in prepared for a romance, but still kinda hoping to get scared shitless (due to Stephen King’s “fucking terrifying” stamp of approval).

Alas, any shitting to be had came from gore rather than actual scares or plot twists. I even managed to guess what the Sharpes were up to even in Act 1. In that sense, I was a bit disappointed in the plot department - I guess I didn’t expect to see it coming so easily.

I'm sure you know the story by now. Young girl becomes enamoured with tall, dark, mysterious stranger, and gets whisked away to his mansion in the middle of nowhere to be with him and his creepy sister. Other creepy things then ensue.

There are some red herrings – Enola Sciotti (or E.S.), I believe, is one, seeing that E.S. could stand for Edith Sharpe or even Eunice Sharpe. Although I’m not sure whether it was meant for Edith to conveniently discover and ask Thomas what Milan is all about. I had the impression that Thomas had a wife originally and her name had begun with E, but in the end his other previous wives had names from letters that weren’t ‘E’.

It’s a bit of a shame, because if you noticed, the central theme of the film was already revealed, mirrored in Edith’s manuscript, and when Thomas beratescriticizes her about it, do note that there are quite many a spoiler in what he said. I thought that was very meta, very cool, and a great foreshadowing of things to come.

And with this, I would’ve preferred the central theme to have been fleshed out more, to see more of what it was of Edith that won Thomas over. There wasn’t really enough of that, and the only scene in which we see something like this is in the one where Thomas goes, “You’re different from the rest”.
It wouldn’t have been easy to strike a balance between both character and plot development, and the rather slow burn of seeing Edith trying to figure out what is going on could have been exchanged with more, well, romance.

Yes, you read right. I am choosing romance over horror. The sap in me is winning this round.

Visually, the movie is gorgeous, and I loved, loved the decrepit, crumbling mansion that is Allerdale Hall. The name ‘Crimson Peak’ comes from the red clay that seeps into the snow during winter. I was reminded a bit of The Shining when our heroine runs out into the snow and tries to defend herself. Luckily, there isn’t much running around – otherwise it’d be a direct copyhomage of The Shining.
Verdict: The movie is very suspenseful; at liberal points in the film I threw my hands up to my eyes (after what happened to Edith’s father), and the ghosts were ghastly enough to make me scrounge my face up and cringe. But I feel the violence and gore are gratuitous, and towards the end there is one unfortunately unintentionally comic scene (and I wasn’t the only one who thought so - my friend cracked up at it). It was the one thing that marred an otherwise intense affair, especially with Lucille all riled up and in crazy banshee mode. I think I would’ve liked the movie more if I hadn’t seen it coming so early in the film.

Still, even Del Toro probably couldn’t bear to harm Hiddles’ cheekbones, eh?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Warm Bodies (2013)

My interest in the genre is more towards the zombies themselves, from a biological point of view, how they function. I mean, they don't rationalise, they don't plan, they may not feed even that often, but inexplicably, they survive.

So this movie's told from a zombie's point of view, the premise being that the zombie falls in love with a living breathing girl, and against all (scientific) odds, finds his way back to the land of the living and regains his humanity.

The movie starts off very good, but kinda falls flat in the third act. Our hero's path to the land of the living is an interesting exploration in reversing the effects of zombification, but it setting off a chain of events that leads to the redemption of EVERY zombie, well, that's a bit much for me to stomach.

Adding Deadites (can't remember what they were called, but if you see the movie you'd know who they are) was unnecessary. The focus should be on the zombies alone without any other undead element or further derivation; this just detracts from the story. Plus, these violent creatures are supposed to be able to sense heartbeats and thus feed; how is it that the confrontation between them and the recently-hearted zombies

Nicholas Hoult's portrayal as the zombie of change was good, although I thought his end scenes were done COMPLETELY human (and didn't have that awkwardness that it should). Mind, I know that his progress is way ahead of the rest; I just feel that it shouldn't be human. It should be just slightly less so.


Monsters University (2013)

I would've preferred a sequel than a prequel. I miss Boo.

Even though the focus is more on Mike this time, the storyline ended up predictable (Mike and Sully start off disliking each other). I think the fun I got from the film is seeing that blobby monster with the four / six eyes (can’t remember his name or the number of his eyes) and revisiting the characters we got to know from Monsters, Inc.

And they found a way to fit Steve Buscemi in this one, too!

[Although, his origin didn't gel well with his eventual ruthlessness and villainy and homicidalness. I mean, he wanted to kill that poor girl.]

6/10. Despite finding the film rather humdrum, anything Billy Crystal-related gives me a kick (his last outing--Parental Guidance--was just so-so) as he’s not around a lot at the moment.

[Super-short one. Too meh.]

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Dumb and Dumber To (2014)

In my quest for nostalgia, this movie doesn’t disappoint. Unfortunately, it isn’t as funny as the first one (though on the crude scale, it’s a match).

It had a good start, though.

After a catatonic Lloyd reveals he was faking it for 20 years (the exact number of time between this movie and its first, Dumb and Dumber), Harry is need of a kidney and they both set out to find Harry's illegitimate daughter to see whether she is a donor match. Hilarity, devious plots and pranks ensue.

The movie parallels the first one almost to a ‘T’, as if trying to see whether the same formula could work 20 years later. From the road trip to the large villainous sidekick getting inadvertently killed, down to Lloyd having a fantasy sequence (where he kicks ass and then imagines his love interest's tatas to be the front of a truck) and undercover police (not so obvious, eh), from the insidious plot underway to the Lauren HollyLaurie Holden, I can go on and on.

Don't get me wrong; it's not that I didn't appreciate all the references and tie-backs to the first movie, it's just that it's exactly the same movie. The difference is that I could name so many funny things from the first movie, and not that many from this one; laugh-out-loud moments were far and rather few.

My main quibble with the movie were some plot devices that, even when proven that they weren't in fact loopholes, still weren't satisfactory at all. Like, how can the conference people not know what the renowned Dr Pinchelow looked like? Couldn't Kathleen Turner write smaller on the postcard and go, "Dear Harry, I'm pregnant so I need the 40 bucks you owe me, love Fraida"? It's as if there was no other way to create comedy (or acts of stupidity, if you will) in the film and they had to rely on such sloppy writing.

And with all the throwbacks, I thought there could be a connection between Laurie Holden toand Mary SamsoniteSwanson, because the resemblance is uncanny. Alas, it was not to be. And (again) since we're on the topic of throwbacks, it's not the same without Harland Williams nor a Jeff Daniels' explosive diarrhea scene.

On top of that, I actually feel sorry for Lloyd (easily the mean-spirited of the duo, based on the first film), when he gave up his kidney for Harry, only for him to reveal it to be a prank.

So, Dumb and Dumber To: watch, or don't watch?

If you like/love the first film and also throwbacks, do watch. If not, well, then don't. 5/10.

[Despite the long list of similarities, I left out two of the best throwbacks in the film, one of which is in the post-credits scene. It's worth the wait if you're a fan.]

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)

*spoilers spoilers spoilers spoilers ON TIME!*

TBotFA is the last movie in The Hobbit trilogy, which I hear is two movies too long. It picks up immediately after the events in Desolation of Smaug, with Smaug desolatinglaying waste to Laketown. What surprised me was Smaug’s defeat 15-20 minutes into the film; I thought they would drag this on for at least a bit more.

Thorin succumbs to ‘dragon sickness’ after evicting the dragon (meaning he becomes obsessed with gold and wants to hoard all of it – like Stephen Colbert, perhaps?) and holes himself and the rest of the dwarf company under the Lonely Mountain. The humans from the now-razed Laketown camp outside the Mountain in search of shelter, and to claim some of the gold within as part of recompense for aiding the dwarves and to also rebuild their town (I don’t recall much aiding, by the way, but since Bard said it and he looks to be of upright character, I will go along with it). Legolas and Tauriel have gone a-trackin’, and find out that the Orcs (from the first two films) are mobilizing and planning to attack the Mountain in a bid to reclaim the land behind it (which is Angmar. Cue goosebumps).

The Elves have also come to the Mountain, to claim the white gems that Thranduil has always wanted, and join forces with the humans in an effort to get Thorin and Co., to budge. Thorin’s reinforcements (led by his boar-riding cousin, Billy ConnollyDain) arrive, and are about to fight with the Elf-Human contingent when the Orcs finally arrive.

The last hour or so is true to its title, with everyone duking it out with the Orcs, even though I count only four armies (Dwarf, Elf, Human and Orc), unless you include Goblin mercenaries, which were only on-screen for like, five minutes. Probably the book is clearer on this.

Really, really cool scenes in the movie are:

  • The way Bard takes down Smaug. Super-epic.

  • Elrond and Saruman fighting the pre-Lord of the Rings Ringwraiths (I think), and the Ringwraiths (I think) are bamf-ing about. Also, the return of Sauron, from mere silhouetted Necromancer to the flaming eye we all know and are familiar with. One more ‘also’: Angmar. Freaking Angmar.

  • The part when the dwarves lay down their pikes against the Orcs just when they are about to attack, and the Elves coming in at the last minute by jumping over the dwarves and combating the Orcs. I don’t know how else to describe this scene, but be assured it looks far cooler than my description.

  • I would include the Ringworms but they didn’t get much screen-time. I mean, what is the point of mentioning Ringworms if they’re going to be in it for five seconds.

  • Legolas stepping on /climbing falling stones like a staircase. Cool as this looks, I still prefer his turn in Return of the King. You know which scene I mean.

  • “The Eagles are coming!” The Eagles are always last-minutely cool. Also, that guy who rode the Eagles and transformed into a giant bear and fought the Orcs. I thought he was random, but Wikipedia reminded me that he was in the second movie.

  • Thorin Sheathing The Sword, when fighting Azog the Defiler. If I don’t get that Robert Jordan film series, this will most definitely do it, for me.

  • As with all Hollywood decisions, splitting a slim volume into three super-long movies (by using appendices) is motivated by financial reasons, however I have noticed the series’ effectiveness in getting us invested with its (main) characters. It works in getting you to care what happens to them, how they have grown, etc. And having not read the book (and not spoiled myself silly with Wikipedia beforehand), I was wowed and awed and suitably saddened by its turn of events (when I guessed wrongly who would die and who wouldn’t).

    This movie ends full circle into the original trilogy, with old Bilbo getting a visit from Gandalf. It doesn’t exactly have that the same kind of finality that Return of the King had, even as the end-credits song drums its farewell into you. I did stay for the end-credits, because with so many people in this film, it’s a lovely gesture and a very, very nice feeling to finally get to know who played whom.


    Thursday, September 4, 2014

    Godzilla (2014)

    *Spoiler warning still needed?*

    Godzilla was surprising on so many levels:

    1) Juliette Binoche

    2) Her being in the movie for 10 minutes

    3) Bryan Cranston’s very un-Malcolm in the Middle performance (we don’t get Breaking Bad here)

    4) Him being in the movie for 20-25 minutes (I wanted to see more of him being serious!), and

    5) Godzilla is the freaking good guy!?

    Spoilers aside, I was expecting an hour-and-a-half of a dinosaur stomping on a city and puny humans trying to stop it. Yannoe, stereotypical monster movie fare (or as I like to say, an Ultraman movie sans Ultraman).

    What I didn’t expect to see was TWO OTHER monsters, and that Godzilla would be the one to take them DOWN!

    All this came to me in the scene where Ken Watanabe says that Godzilla was listening in onto the MUTOs’ (I can’t remember what it stood for, but fun fact: this guy from Adventure Time, Adam, has that as a surname) radar pingings / communication / whatever.

    Coolest. Realisation-setting-in-halfway-through-the-film. Ever.

    I watched this movie with the giddiness of someone discovering everything for the first time, having not seen the Godzilla film from the 90s (but having this vague impression that it was like Jurassic Park). I also slightly overexcited myself by mistaking the first MUTO to be Mothra, just because it took flight. I also got a kick out of seeing Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen together as husband and wife in this film. They’re gonna play brother and sister in the second Avengers movie! Ooooo!

    But I’m getting sidetracked.

    The great Godzilla reveal was grand, coming out of the water, causing a tsunami, and to see his chunky legs stomp past buildings in Hawaii. There’s a bit of a slow burn until we get to see him in his full glory, but I didn’t notice it much as I was still reeling over the number of monsters in the film and Godzilla being the good guy.

    The movie tries to balance a nature vs nurture message (the MUTOs only wanted to breed), but no one really gives a cow when three monsters are duking it out and causing the same level of destruction as Superman and Zod did.

    [Reminder to self: Settle Man of Steel review.]

    And with a far cooler Fatality take-down! I mean, pry open mouth, breath nuclear down throat, anyone?!

    Short review is rather short. I enjoyed this movie a lot. 8/10.

    Thursday, August 28, 2014

    Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

    I wasn’t all that into the first movie, because there were a whole slew of origin movies at the time, and even though Steve Rogers was actually decent (and not cocky, brash and/or arrogant), it was still an introductory film to yet another comic book character.

    So it was completely without much anticipation that I went to see Winter Soldier.

    And I was taken aback at how not-boring it was.

    Exploring how Steve settles into the modern world after his awakening and the subsequent battle of New York, shit immediately happens when the Winter Soldier (an assassin long thought to be Soviet myth) surfaces and turns out to be Steve’s best friend (thought to have died in Captain 1).

    Throw in Hydra, which was thought (lots of thinking in this movie) to have gone done with the death of the Red Skull (also in the first movie), and with this, we have an (implicit) explanation why Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. have been so freaking humdrum: because Hydra tends to be synonymous with Captain America, and they didn’t want to spoil the storyline for Cap’n 2.

    [It actually makes sense that Agents exist to combat Hydra.]

    Then you have Nick Fury faking his own death, a few people from past Marvel outings getting outed as Hydra molls (Jasper! Senator Garry Shandling from Iron Man 2!), and though it’s a lot to cram in and digest in a two-hour movie, it didn’t get draggy nor did I find it overcrowded.

    I was also glad that Scarlett Johansson wasn't also there to perpetuate the film stereotype of male and female leads falling in love with each other and no one else. Thankfully, there’s not a trace of a blossoming romance between the Black Widow and Captain America.

    [Because she needs to have one with Hawkeye!]

    After the frankly-mild Iron Man 3 and the slightly better Thor 2 (setting up to gonna-be-good Thor 3), Captain 2 is a vast improvement over its first movie and, compared to its fellow Phase 2 movies, a much better entry to the MCU. Though the first one had heart, this one had also twists and turns worthy of an espionage film (you can’t have Robert Redford in a movie like this without giving him a meaty role like the bad guy. Poor Powers Boothe).

    [Fun fact: Redford and ScarJo were in the horse whisperer a long, long time ago.]

    Do, do watch. This was the movie that made me sit up and acknowledge that Marvel can not do any wrong. 8/10.

    Sunday, August 17, 2014

    The Expendables 3 (2014)

    I have absolutely no idea how to review this movie.

    If I attempt this like an actual reviewer, there might be quite a bit for me to critique. But I don’t feel like doing that because I found this film a lot of fun, and though it’s not quite as fun as the second movie, I’m not disappointed either.

    [Not like Spider-man 3.]

    So, I’m just gonna go through this in listicle format (list + article = listicle. Yes, it’s an actual new word, and no, it hasn’t anything to do with ‘testicle’), with what I liked and what I didn’t quite like (in no particular order and with spoilers):


  • Evident in this movie and the previous one, everyone looked like they were having a ton of fun hanging out together, shooting and blowing things up aside, which makes the audience enjoy the ride as well. It’s like the action movie version of Grown-Ups, all friends getting together, and that fact itself makes the whole endeavour far less pointless.

  • Wesley Snipes – Damn, I missed this guy. He doesn’t look a day older than he did in the Blade films (and that was a long while ago!), and I loved the part where the team asks him what he was doing time in prison for, and he says, “Tax evasion.” Ha! It was so much fun watching him.

  • Antonio Banderas – Him channelling a benevolent and even more chatty version of Assassins’ Miguel Bane. Despite him being the comic relief that never shuts up, the scene where he tells Sly what happened to his last team is one of the best in the film. It was a lot of fun watching him too, though he looks very emaciated; I hope he's alright.

  • Harrison Ford is actually a supporting character! I thought he was only cameo-ing, but he had far more screen-time than Bruce Willis ever would. That’s probably Sly one-upping his former(?) friend.

  • Kelsey Grammer is also a supporting character and not a cameo! Good on him! Maybe the next one he'll get to hold a gun.

  • “GET TO DA CHOPPA!” One of the reasons why I love the Expendables films is because of all the throwbacks to the actors’ respective past movies, although there’s far less references in this one than in Movie 2. There’re also sly nods to Willis’ falling out with Sly (Ford saying, “he’s out of the picture,” when referring to Willis’ character, Church), and my personal favourite, tax evasion.

  • Young vs old – By introducing the young team and still retaining the old, team make-ups in future movies (if any) would be on rotational basis, I believe. I think with what went down with Willis, it’s Sly’s way of saying that everyone (but him) is expendableinterchangeable. You might think that overcrowding the movie would affect the pace, but I found it fine to split the first half with the youngsters, have them get caught, and then having the oldies break them out and then fight and blow up stuff together. The movie itself is roughly two hours long.

  • Villain-wise, Mel Gibson is more menacing and threatening as an antagonist compared to JCVD and Eric Roberts (from past outings). He still looks good, despite that whole anti-Semitic rant and subsequent under-the-radar that happened some years back. The final fight between him and Sly was just okay, but you have to consider the fact that Gibson isn't an actor known for brawn.

  • Absolutely no romantical notions whatsoever. I don't like romance to distract from my action movie. Just because you have a woman in the show doesn't mean she has to flirt or fall in love or want babies with any of the guys around her.

  • Not liked:

  • Jet Li is out of the Expendables!! I mean, he may still be in future films, but he’s in Arnie’s team so I expect cameos. He didn’t even do any kung-fu this time around. I wonder whether he wanted out, or the other way around. I'm guessing the former; after all, he’s only there for the China market. I think Banderas is his replacement; he got third billing.

  • Not enough Dolph Lundgren!!

  • Terry Crews – I don’t get why he has to get shot (and in the ass too, it looked like). It just makes it look like there’s only quota enough for one black guy in the team (i.e., Snipes).

  • No Chuck Norris!! I enjoyed seeing Chuck Norris tell a Chuck Norris joke.

  • Ronda Rousey – Girl’s got moves, but unfortunately she’s not really good with her face. She looks like pouting, belligerent child whenever the scene calls for her to stare/glare people down.

  • Still not enough Lundgren!!

  • With the above, my take on The Expendables 3 is DO WATCH, if you loved the 80s and action stars that you haven't seen in a very long while. Of course, you can consider the first two outings as having seen them recently, but if you are me, the throwback movies themselves don't count.


    Thursday, August 7, 2014

    Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

    I’ve been excited about this movie ever since I saw the hilarious first trailer. Unlike Iron Man, Captain America and Co., (whom I knew of either vaguely or from newspapers or Marvel Zombies), I've never heard of the Guardians of the Galaxy, but because of said trailer and the usual Marvel-film hype, I went in with some level of expectation. First time ever.

    And I wasn’t disappointed. Although, I can’t say expectations exceeded, either.

    In brief, Guardians revolves around five escaped convicts who band together to claim a huge bounty on an item that one of them had stolen at the start of the film; an item, which the main villain of the film needed for trade with a larger big-bad in order for the latter to commit genocide. Through the course of the film, our convicts elude the main villain and other parties who also want the item, and become unlikely heroes as they try to prevent a planet from being massacred and defeat the bad guy.

    Un-blanding the paragraph (which wasn't at all easy to write in the first place) would mean writing out almost the entire plot, and that’s my main quibble of the film: there’s not exactly a coherent storyline to speak of. It’s very all over the place (character gets item everyone wants amidst geo-political warfare and probable genocide and there’s a guy who collects things), but the movie is just so much fun that you don’t notice how messy it is.

    [Unfortunately for me, I'm left with “something I can’t quite put my finger on”-itis.]

    Rooting its emotional core with Peter Quill (“you may know me by… Star-Lord”), pivotal scenes come with classic songs from the 1970s and 80s (including the awesome “Hooked on a Feeling”, which is also in the trailer), heard through his Sony Walkman and “Awesome Mix Vol. 1”-tape with all his mother’s favourite songs. Peter left Earth as a young child at his mother’s death, and listening to the mix-tape is his way of remembering his mother and reminding him of his home planet.

    After those poignant first scenes on Earth (its 8-10 minutes to me is almost at par with the opening of Up), the movie establishes its comedic tone by having Chris Pratt (who plays Star-Lord) strut and dance his way through alien ruins. Pratt fits the standard cocky, sarcastic hero mould that we’ve acquainted and re-acquainted ourselves with in each superhero movie, but he’s so freaking adorable (like a teddy bear! a giant ginger teddy bear!) that I didn’t even realise this (cocky sarcasm) until time of writing.

    As fitting as Pratt is as the lead, he has his movie almost stolen from him by two characters who are completely CG’ed: Rocket (Raccoon) and Groot. The pair (voiced by Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel respectively) showed more humanity, emotion and compassion (this especially from alien wood) than all other characters put together. I’m surprised that Diesel got billing ahead of Cooper, who got in far more dialogue than expected, compared with “I am Groot”.

    After the wasted opportunity Green Lantern was, I was sceptical of another movie set in space, because how much time spent in space really depends on the production budget. I’m glad that in Guardians, we barely spend any time on Earth (only in the beginning), though we do spend almost a cumulative half-hour on the mostly-human-looking Xandar. Luckily, this doesn't detract from my enjoyment of the film.

    [People behind Green Lantern sequel or reboot, please take note. Two hours of Oa would be comparably better than one hour of Earth.]

    Guardians introduces an ensemble instead of just a solo act, so backstories for everyone but Peter are told via exposition. This I somehow noticed, which annoyed me for the rest of the film that I noticed. Thankfully, in all of that exposition is witty dialogue, and its very able actors and trip down nostalgia lane make the movie work.

    The Marvel Cinematic Universe movies tend not to deviate into the unknown (even Thor doesn’t really talk about other Realms), so it's great to see this film delve deeper into more obscure material, and, to quote another sci-fi saga, “it boldly goes where no (MCU movie) has gone before.” Unfortunately, I didn't quite find this movie fresh or original (as I hoped it would be), but it is a solidly entertaining new entry. Considering how the past few were tried-and-tested box office material (Iron Man threequel, Thor and Captain America sequels), Marvel Studios still has that magic touch, and I'm looking forward to seeing whatAnt-Man and Doctor Strange movies bring.

    This movie's end-credits doesn't tie in to The Avengers 2, but the find scene does tease a unexpected possible re-boot for a character long-dormant.

    I was so, so psyched with that last scene.

    8/10. Do, do watch this movie, and just laugh at everything.

    Saturday, January 4, 2014

    47 Ronin (2013)

    *spoilers! But if you already know the original story, then there's no point to the warning, then.*

    This film is based on the true Japanese story of 47 samurai left leaderless after their lord was forced to commit ritual suicide (seppuku - but according to our local subtitler it's sepupuku, which is Malay for 'my cousin') for assaulting a court official. The ronin (the term for samurais without masters) then enact revenge on the official (apparently he was a massive douche) to restore their lord's honour, and in turn, were obliged to commit seppuku themselves as they had been forbidden by the emperor to retaliate in the first place.

    What could've been a film similar to 300 minus the fantastical elephants and Persian ninjas and, well, grounded in realism, is instead turned into a film with fantastical monks, sorcery and no ninjas. And with every Hollywood movie revolving around Asians or Asian culture, affirmative action is in place and you have the obligatory white guy in the film.

    Surprisingly, given the (misleading) trailer and Keanu Reeves's top billing, he's technically only a minor character in the film, even though the focus is on him with all those unnecessary close-ups and he's there to counter the baddie's witchcraft subplot. That said, Keanu's presence unfortunately pulls focus from Oishi, the real main character of the film, played by Hiroyuki Sanada. He's the one driving the avenging, gathering all other ronin, and he was the one who busted Keanu out of Singaporethe Dutch settlements. Without him, Keanu would still be cage-fighting mutants for the rest of his days. Oishi is also the one who chases down and has the final fight with villain Lord Kira (rightfully so) and this, to the movie's credit, is not shared with Keanu even after he gains acceptance from the ronin.

    With these liberties with the plot (romance is minor, which is good), I was quite pleased with the direction that the film took, even though the plot also seems to have forgotten that it was sorcery that led Lord Asano to his (wrongful) death in the first place (Kira has a witch in employ), and that the ronin are in fact justified in seeking revenge against Lord Kira. It's rather refreshing to watch a movie where the sole white guy doesn't get any special treatment at all, from being utterly mistreated and bullied in the beginning, till the end where there's no reprieve for him from seppuku.

    Don't get me wrong. I don't dislike Keanu; it's just that I'm rather sick of movies getting the white-guy treatment (or, nowadays, it's the yellow-guy treatment but that's already a rant in my other blog) in order to pull audience numbers. I don't get why Hollywood thinks that films with Caucasians sell more than films with people of other races (*cough* The Last Airbender *cough*). I don't get why they can't just have 47 Ronin without Keanu (again, I don't dislike Keanu); I mean, they already have a practically-full Japanese cast; why not just make the whole thing in Japanese and market it as a foreign movie instead.

    That said, I'm glad that the movie doesn't alternate/break into Japanese at all, which would be wrong (like in The Wolverine, where in one scene two Japanese people were speaking to each other in English.)

    7/10. Maybe it's Christmas, but I'm not really hating this movie as much as everyone is. 'Tis the season, I guess.