i used to have a ritual in chicago. i'd get up early on saturday mornings and crawl onto the couch in the living room. i'd turn on IFC, which at the time was showing samurai movies every week. sometimes i would sleep through most of the movie and sometimes i would watch. this went on for months because i love me a good samurai movie with the possibility of a nap. my favorite is seven samurai, because well, duh but i also really love the zatoichi movies too. they showed movies i'd seen and some i never heard of. there was one that was the craziest technicolor i've ever seen and made the whole bloody movie seem like a cartoon. that one may have given me nightmares. so yeah, samurai saturday. everyone's got their thing. for awhile, that was mine.
i was excited when a friend and i were discussing seeing a movie tonight and she suggested 47 ronin. we'd seen the preview together and it looked awesome. it wasn't. at least we didn't think so but we know better. the real story of the 47 ronin is sad and beautiful and complicated. it is definitely not silly. this movie was silly. pretty but silly. it did not scratch my samurai saturday itch. it was as disappointing as that saturday morning i crawled onto the couch, turned on the tv and IFC was showing the three stooges.
i have to admit that when i was getting ready to go out, i actually thought to myself, "are we really going to see a keanu reeves movie?" keanu has a tendency to ruin things for me, bill & ted's excepted. and the matrix but really just the first one. oh, and that movie where he played a serial killer. he sometimes looks dead inside so a murderous sociopath didn't seem like a huge leap. here's the thing though, keanu was not the biggest problem. <spoilers ahead>
the ALIEN DEMON MONKS were, in fact, the biggest problem. the crazy mythical beast in the beginning, cool. the witch, while annoying, not beyond the realm of possibility. THE ALIEN DEMON MONKS WERE A BRIDGE TOO FAR. i'm sorry i'm shouting but seriously. ALIEN DEMON MONKS. in an effing samurai movie.
also, love stories rarely work out well in samurai movies. someone always has to commit seppuku and there will always be heartbreak. yes, crouching tiger, hidden dragon managed to do it in a kung fu movie, which is also tricky. but you, 47 ronin, you are no crouching tiger.
now, i'm watching 13 assassins on netflix, one of the best new samurai movies i've seen. when its over, because it is very, very violent, i may watch an episode of samural jack to cleanse my palate. he may be animated but his heart is pure. and maybe tomorrow i've watch the old 47 ronin and forget this one ever happened.