Let me start this by saying that I’m always pulling for Keanu Reeves. Always. I loved the guy in The Matrix, in the Bill and Ted films, in Speed, in just about anything, really. I think he gets a bit of a raw deal sometimes. So it really pained me to watch, finally, the trailer for the troubled and long-gestating 47 Ronin.
47 Ronin follows 47 samurai who seek revenge on those who caused their master to commit seppuku (ritualized suicide). Reeves is Kai, a ‘half-breed’ (that’s what the trailer calls him) who seems to have some kind of powers (I think he might be the One, guys). He joins up with the ronin and they head off on a journey to defeat Lord Kira (Tadanobu Asano) and a bunch of pretty freaky CGI creatures.
The plot sounds good, actually, and with that in mind we go into the trailer. I’m sorry to say that here’s where everything falls apart. There’s CGI – bad CGI, with very little reality to make it halfway believable. Reeves battles some bizarre creatures – there’s a literal dragon lady! – in very cookie-cutter landscapes. It looks a little bit like the action has been superimposed into a complex diorama. Keanu himself is a little uncomfortable/emotionless/constipated, delivering what lines he does have with the same blank stare. Oh, and then there’s the tagline: ‘Seize Eternity.’ Oof.
I guess we should not be too shocked that 47 Ronin doesn’t look that hot. The film was supposed to open last November, got bumped several times, and has reportedly exceeded its $175 million budget by $50 million. The script went through multiple changes, with arguments over the edit that first-time director Carl Rinsch finally won out on. None of this makes for a hopeful opening to a film, but I did not expect it to be this calamitous.
Of course, this is only the trailer. Maybe 47 Ronin is actually better than the messy thing I just watched. Trailers have poorly represented their films before; perhaps we can hold out hope for this one.
You can decide for yourself by watching the trailer and checking out the next character posters below. What do you think?
47 Ronin opens on December 25, 2013.