47 RONIN Blu-ray Review

by     Posted 8 days ago

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The story of the Forty-seven Ronin is well known in Japan, and has been since the historical event occurred early in the 18th century.  It’s not nearly as common knowledge on these shores, but that’s something that Carl Rinsch’s 47 Ronin adaptation looked to change.  Keanu Reeves stars in this tale that reimagines the factual story of revenge, honor, and loyalty as one set within a world rich with the fantastical elements of Japanese folklore.  In its theatrical release, 47 Ronin was a box office dud, never coming close to making its reported $175 million budget back.  Perhaps it was simply a case of the wrong movie at the wrong time.  Since the quality of the production is surprisingly high, 47 Ronin might find new life on home video.  Hit the jump for my 47 Ronin Blu-ray review.

New to Blu-ray: ANCHORMAN 2: THE LEGEND CONTINUES, 47 RONIN, THE PIRATE FAIRY, and More

by     Posted 15 days ago

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This week’s new Blu-ray releases are light on quantity, but include three different cuts of a long-awaited comedy sequel on one home video release, a big-budget 2013 film that went largely unseen, and Tom Hiddleston as Captain Hook.  Briefly:

Weekend Box Office: THE HOBBIT 2 Back on Top on 2013′s Final Weekend

by     Posted 108 days ago

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The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug pulled off a narrow victory over Disney’s Frozen on 2013’s final frame, making it just the second title of the year to spend three weeks on top of the domestic box office.  Smaug now equals the Christmas run (by ranking at least) of An Unexpected Journey, the first installment in The Hobbit trilogy.

 Title Weekend Total
1.  The Hobbit 2 $29,850,000 $190.3
2.  Frozen $28,845,000 $248.3
3.  Anchorman 2 $20,150,000 $83.6
4.  American Hustle $19,550,000 $60
5.  The Wolf of Wall Street $18,510,000 $34.3
6.  Saving Mr. Banks $14,020,000 $37.8
7.  Secret Life of Walter Mitty $13,000,000 $25.5
8.  Catching Fire $10,200,000 $391.1
9.  47 Ronin $9,870,000 $20.5
10.  A Madea Christmas $7,400,000 $43.7

Friday Box Office: FROZEN Takes First From THE HOBBIT 2; New Releases Struggling

by     Posted 109 days ago

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We’ve seen five new releases in three last three days, but not one of them are playing for first place this weekend.  In fact, only one of them made it into Friday’s top five (The Wolf of Wall Street), and two of them missed the top ten altogether.  The real action this weekend is between blockbuster holdovers The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and Frozen.  Estimates put Disney in front on Friday, though it looks like Bilbo may still be able to pull off a third weekend on top of the domestic box office.  Here’s a look at the top ten, as of Friday’s estimates.

 Title Friday Total
1.  Frozen $10,254,000 $229.8
2.  The Hobbit 2 $10,110,000 $170.5
3.  Anchorman 2 $7,143,000 $71.1
4.  American Hustle $6,400,000 $46.8
5.  The Wolf of Wall Street $6,257,000 $22
6.  Saving Mr. Banks $4,721,000 $28.5
7.  Secret Life of Walter Mitty $4,540,000 $17.1
8.  Catching Fire $3,400,000 $384.3
9.  47 Ronin $3,400,000 $14.1
10.  Walking With Dinosaurs $2,500,000 $16.1

Details after the jump.

New Clip from 47 RONIN Starring Keanu Reeves

by     Posted 149 days ago

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Universal has released a new clip from the action film 47 Ronin.  The story stars Keanu Reeves and centers on a troupe of banished samurai who long to restore their honor and find vengeance against the treacherous Lord Kira (played by Tadanobu Asano) who was responsible for the death of their master.  The clip illustrates that the heroes will be fighting beasts rather than men, but the beasts are so hard to buy because the CGI looks so crummy.  I can understand needing CGI for big set pieces, but this is a mano-a-mano fight, and it looks like Reeves is fighting a cartoon character rather than a flesh-and-blood creature.

Hit the jump to watch the clip.  Click on the respective links for Steve’s set visit and interviews with Reeves, co-star Hiroyuki Sanada, costume designer Penny Rose, and director Carl Rinsch.  The film also stars Rinko Kikuchi, Kou Shibasaki, and Jin Akanishi47 Ronin opens in 3D on December 25th.

TOP 5: THOR: THE DARK WORLD, DALLAS BUYERS CLUB, Marvel Live-Action Series Coming to Netflix, 47 RONIN Set Visit, Blockbuster Video Is Dead

by     Posted 158 days ago

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Although I hate to naysay, I’ve gone on record several times with my lack of excitement for the upcoming RoboCop remake (here’s one example although I’m sure there are more). This past week MGM and Sony released the new trailer for the film and while I think the cast has the potential to be great, in general the movie just keeps digging itself into a bigger hole with every bit of new footage that I see. Whereas Paul Verhoeven‘s original was laced with social critique that was often ahead of its time if not at least skillfully deployed, this latest trailer goes out of its way to show that it too has something to say about social issues with on the nose references to the idea of using American resources to promote peace abroad rather than at home and the invasive nature of corporate marketing/branding. You keep up with current affairs, we get it. Speaking of marketing, probably my biggest beef with this latest cut comes in its final seconds when it shows RoboCop making a grandiose landing that essentially says “You guys liked the Iron Man movies, right?! You should definitely check this out then because it has a guy in a futuristic suit too!”. Thanks but no thanks, MGM and Sony.

Now that I’ve levied more criticism on a 2:30 trailer than is likely fair, let’s move on to something more positive. This week’s Top 5 features Thor: The Dark World interviews with Tom Hiddleston and more, Dallas Buyers Club interviews with the likes of Jared Leto, the news that Marvel will bring live-action series to Netflix featuring Daredevil and others, a recap of Steve’s 47 Ronin set visit, and a farewell to the once massive video rental chain, Blockbuster Video. If I haven’t lost you yet, a brief recap and link to each of the above can be found after the jump.

47 RONIN Set Visit with Video Blog Recap and New Images

by     Posted 163 days ago

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I feel like I’ve been transported back hundreds of years to medieval Japan.  In front of me are over a hundred samurai warriors with each group in its own color (red, gold and purple) and we’re standing inside an ancient warlord’s castle.  As I stand near a cherry blossom tree, I watch as the visiting Shogun Warrior dressed in Gold, with his own group of golden Samurai, inform the kneeling Samurai of Ako Castle they are now all Ronin.  As he says this, I look at the 3D cameras and the large crew standing nearby, and can’t believe everything is make believe.

Let me back up a second.

It’s June 8, 2011 and I’m flying back to Los Angeles from London.  Yesterday I spend most of the day on director Carl Rinsch’s first feature, 47 Ronin, with a few other online reporters.  While I knew going in the movie would be based on the very famous Japanese story of the 47 Ronin, I wasn’t sure how much would be fact, and how much Hollywood fiction they would mix in.  However, what I saw on set tells me that the filmmaking team might have figured out a great way to tell this well-known story.  Hit the jump for so much more.

Keanu Reeves Talks the Film’s Action Sequences and Effects, Working in 3D, and More on the Set of 47 RONIN

by     Posted 163 days ago

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I’ll admit to being a big fan of Keanu Reeves.  Like most of you, I grew up watching his movies:  Bill & Ted, Point Break, Speed, The Matrix, My Own Private Idaho, Constantine, Dracula, and so many others.  So when I was invited to London to visit the set of 47 Ronin with a few other online reporters, I was very excited.  Thankfully, what I saw looked very cool.  The level of detail on the costumes, massive practical sets, and in every other behind-the-scenes detail made me think director Carl Rinsch was bringing something to life that has never been done.  I’m genuinely excited to see the finished film on Christmas Day.

During a break in filming, Reeves sat down with me and my fellow online reporters for an interview.  He talked about why he wanted to be in the film, learning Japanese, his character, how the project changed along the way, filming in 3D, training for the action, and so much more.  Hit the jump for what he had to say.

Director Carl Rinsch Talks His Approach to 3D, Making His Directorial Debut on a Big Tentpole, Not Changing the Original Ending, and More on the Set of 47 RONIN

by     Posted 163 days ago

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While you might not know the name Carl Rinsch, you’ve probably seen his work.  Over the past few years, he’s directed plenty of commercials using CGI to amplify his storytelling, and he also directed a very cool short film called The Gift, which we wrote about here.  If you’ve seen any of his stuff, you know he’s a talented director.

47 Ronin opens December 25th, and it marks Rinsch’s directorial debut.  When the production was filming outside London back in 2011, I got to participate in a group interview with Rinsch in between set ups, and what I found was someone more than willing to share his thoughts.  He talked about filming in 3D, the story of the 47 Ronin, how they built huge practical sets that will be amplified with CG, working with a Japanese cast, how they’re not softening the ending, and so much more.  Hit the jump for what he had to say.

Hiroyuki Sanada Talks Telling a Classic Japanese Samurai Story, Working with Keanu Reeves, the Fantasy Element, and More on the Set of 47 RONIN

by     Posted 163 days ago

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During a group interview on the set of 47 Ronin, Hiroyuki Sanada explained why he wanted to be in the film:

“This is almost the most famous story – Samurai story – in Japan. But we have a lot of original stuff in the script so we changed a lot, taking it in a fantasy way. It’s a very special movie for me. Not only a Samurai thing. Not only a Hollywood fantasy. It has a very special mixture between Japanese traditional culture and Western culture for the costume, set, story. Everything. I believe it will be a very special film that no one has ever seen.”

He also talked about what the story of the 47 Ronin means to him, how making this film compares to The Last Samurai, what it’s been like filming in 3D, the choreography and action, the costumes, and much more.  Hit the jump for what he had to say.

Costume Designer Penny Rose Talks Designing Samurai, Working with CGI Characters, and More on the Set of 47 RONIN

by     Posted 163 days ago

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One of the things that really impressed me on the set of 47 Ronin were the costumes.   Designed by Penny Rose–who’s worked on over forty projects including the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, The Pacific, and Pink Floyd’s The Wall–the costumes were loaded with an amazing attention to detail, and they were brought to life using various colors and materials that made you feel like they were transported through time just for this movie.  And before you start to think it was an easy task, Rose revealed during an on-set group interview that her team created 998 costumes and 400 suits of armor for the production!

During the rest of the interview, Rose talked about designing the samurai, working with CGI characters, how filming in 3D changed the way they built the costumes, the use of color, Keanu Reeves’ outfits, and a lot more.  If you’re interested in how movie costumes are made, or just want to hear some interesting behind-the-scenes stories, you’ll enjoy this interview.

Keanu Reeves Talks MAN OF TAI CHI, Making a Film in China, PASSENGERS, 47 RONIN, What He Collects, and More

by     Posted 168 days ago

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Opening this weekend in limited release is Keanu Reeves’ directorial debut Man of Tai Chi.  Set it modern day China, the pic follows the journey of a young martial artist (Tiger Hu Chen) whose unmatched Tai Chi skills land him in a highly lucrative underworld fight club run by an unsavory businessman (Reeves) dead set on corrupting him.  Loaded with great fight scenes by the legendary Yuen Woo-Ping, Reeves’ directorial debut is a winner and I’m looking forward to what he does next.  For more on the film, read Matt’s review or watch the trailer here.

At this year’s Toronto International Film Festival I landed an exclusive video interview with Reeves.  While I thought about posting it sooner, I wanted to wait until his film was going to be in theaters.  During the interview he talked about how the project came together, what it was like to make a movie in China where the government has script control, his thoughts on directing again, deleted scenes, what he collects, 47 Ronin, Passengers, whether he’ll ever attend Point Break Live, what he’s looking to do in the future, and more.  Hit the jump to watch.

New Trailer, Poster, and Images for 47 RONIN Starring Keanu Reeves

by     Posted 170 days ago

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Universal Pictures has released a new trailer, posters, and images for the action flick, 47 Ronin.  The story stars Keanu Reeves and centers on a troupe of banished samurai who long to restore their honor and find vengeance against the treacherous Lord Kira (played by Tadanobu Asano) who was responsible for the death of their master.  This new trailer does a better job of laying out the story as well as showing off more of the finished special effects, but it still doesn’t do anything for me.  The protagonist’s revenge seems miniscule compared to the special effects extravaganza surrounding him.  I want to hold out hope for this movie, but this new trailer isn’t giving me much to go on.

Hit the jump to check out the trailer, poster, and images.   The film also stars Rinko Kikuchi, Hiroyuki Sanada, Kou Shibasaki, and Jin Akanishi47 Ronin opens in 3D on December 25th.

New Japanese Trailer and Posters for 47 RONIN Starring Keanu Reeves and Rinko Kikuchi

by     Posted 177 days ago

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Universal has released the Japanese trailer and a couple posters for 47 Ronin.  The story stars Keanu Reeves and centers on a troupe of banished samurai who long to restore their honor and find vengeance against the treacherous Lord Kira (played by Tadanobu Asano) who was responsible for the death of their master.   There’s a little bit in the way of new footage, but they’re trying to keep it as simple as possible: outcast samurai looks for redemption, fights cloth dragon.  I’ll add that every time I hear the line “Your life belongs to us,” my mind immediately snaps back to Reeve’s line in Man of Tai Chi, “You owe me a life!”  Buy stock in lives.

Hit the jump to check out the trailer and posters. The film also stars Rinko Kikuchi, Hiroyuki Sanada, Kou Shibasaki, and Jin Aksanishi47 Ronin opens in 3D on December 25th.

New UK Trailer for 47 RONIN Has a Dragon

by     Posted 190 days ago

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Universal Pictures has released a new trailer for director Carl Rinsch’s upcoming epic 47 Ronin, proving that The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug isn’t this year’s only holiday film with a giant dragon.  The story stars Keanu Reeves and centers on a troupe of banished samurai who long to restore their honor and find vengeance against the treacherous Lord Kira (played by Tadanobu Asano) who was responsible for the death of their master.  Like the previous trailers, this one again showcases the film’s fantastical, CG-filled samurai world, but it still remains to be seen if the pic’s story is compelling enough to get audiences invested.

Hit the jump to watch the UK trailer.  The film also stars Rinko Kikuchi, Hiroyuki Sanada, Kou Shibasaki, and Jin Aksanishi47 Ronin opens in 3D on December 25th.

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