47 Ronin

I awoke in the middle of the night and watched “The Bold Ones: The Senator” with Hal Holbrook. I was struck by the idealism of the show. I went back to sleep and got up early to get out to the office. It was a cloudy morning. I worked on some proofs until I got tired, and then I took a lunch break. I watched “47 Ronin,” the movie with Keanu Reeves that was a financial disaster. I would question the box office appeal of this Japanese story. It seemed like an old Japanese movie updated with a Lord of the Rings CGI treatment. Some of the color photography made me think of “Ran,” although that Kurosawa film had intensity where this one felt laid back and rather empty. Apparently, they filmed the footage both in Japanese and in English. That seemed like a mistake, because the Japanese actors speak in an English that is difficult to understand. Dropping Keanu Reeves into this environment is like trying to put The Matrix in Japan. It’s not a bad idea, but somewhere since “The Matrix” Keanu Reeves faded in the eyes of the public. The years passed pretty quickly, and a generation grew up in the years since Keanu Reeves’ peak. He’s a real gamer in this role of Kai. He tries hard like a Hilary Swank in “Million Dollar Baby.” The movie actually looks pretty good most of the time, except when the CGI gets out of hand. Kai is a half-breed, and he gets reminded of it a lot. I couldn’t help thinking about Cher. The movie could have done without the magic and creatures. We just wanted to see a straight story with some fighting and heroics. The slick Hollywood treatment turned this story into something that no one expected. This was one of those movies in which not much happens. The ronin get banished, and after a year they come back to get their revenge. There is a young woman who is about to get married to someone she despises. It’s like something out of “The Princess Bride.” You can’t measure this movie against the good samurai pictures that have come from Japan. It wasn’t even as good as “You Only Live Twice.” It surprised me that so much money was sunk into this project. Where did it all go? This movie at its best doesn’t need all that fancy imagery. It needed 47 men fighting with swords. The ending wasn’t a good one to put on film because it was a depressing ritual with everybody doing the same thing. I was nearly impressed that Keanu Reeves would go through this. There was also the signing of the document with a thumbprint of blood. I wondered what they would do that just before the showdown. They didn’t all need to have thumb injuries going into battle. With this disaster, I could see why “John Wick” turned out to be so bad. Keanu Reeves continued in his rut. It’s hard to rebound from a movie like “47 Ronin.” What happened to the director? He wasn’t even established with an Oscar-winning film, like Michael Cimino at the time of “Heaven’s Gate.” This was a real career killer. A traditional martial arts action movie was what it should have been. They removed the human element. This movie had barely any emotion. The love story angle was so lukewarm that it was barely noticeable. I guess it also could have used hotter stars than Keanu Reeves. I guess the guy might have been too old and too weird. I didn’t see Tom Cruise in his samurai movie, either. We’ll never see stars like Toshiro Mifune or Bruce Lee ever again. This movie also made me think of “Shogun” with Richard Chamberlain. I also thought of “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.” Sometimes everything comes together, and sometimes what you end up with in the end is a mess. I don’t know if Hollywood handles Asian subject matter too well. No one bothers to differentiate between Japanese and Chinese in the first place. Giving my class their exam caused me to miss The Big Bang Theory. I got home and saw Dave Madden and Louis Nye in an episode of Starsky and Hutch. David Soul wasn’t a good actor, and I could see why he didn’t do anything after this series. “Knight Rider” was terrible, and David Hasselhoff was worse than David Soul. When he said he had limited acting ability, he was accurate. You can get really bored with a talking car. “Miami Vice” is coming to Cozi TV, but I don’t know how many good episodes there were. Dakota Johnson was on the Letterman show. I saw too much of her in “Fifty Shades of Grey.” On the news, they showed a drive-in theater that had SpongeBob on one screen and “Fifty Shades of Grey” on the other. The kids could see the nudity and sex if they were bored with SpongeBob. The bad thing was that they could see only one naked person. It seemed sexist that Christian Grey didn’t display full frontal nudity, not that I wanted to see it. I heard the news that Barry Zito signed a minor league contract with the A’s. Kara Tsuboi thought it was exciting news. I was kind of glad about it because I recently bought a Zito jersey for twenty dollars. After his performance during his last year with the Giants, however, you have to question whether he can even make the team. Jason Giambi announced his retirement. We’ll remember that last month of the 2000 season, but it’s too bad his last months with the A’s didn’t turn out so well. It’s hard to believe that he was in the major leagues for twenty seasons. He gave me a high five on after that last game of the season when they beat the Rangers to win the division championship. Some of the people who died on February 18 include Michelangelo (1564), Frank James (1915), and Gustave Charpentier (1956). Today is a birthday for Molly Ringwald (47), Dr. Dre (50), Matt Dillon (51), Vanna White (58), John Travolta (61), Cybill Shepherd (65), Yoko Ono (82), Toni Morrison (84), and George Kennedy (90). According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for February 18, Mark Twain published “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” in 1885. In 1959, Ray Charles recorded the song “What’d I Say” at the Atlantic Records studio in New York City. In 1977, George Harrison released his single of the Cole Porter song “True Love.” Jack Palance was born 96 years ago today.

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