Keanu Reeves’ long-awaited samurai epic 47 Ronin finally has a trailer and it’s AWFUL. It’s an awful trailer for an awful looking movie. I wish I had a word beyond “awful” both for how terrible the trailer is and how terrible the movie looks.
Let’s tackle the trailer first, starting with the interstitial cards that read “An outcast…exiled,” which is redundant as “outcast” and “exiled” are synonymous. That’s just crap copywriting. Then Keanu Reeves is allowed to speak, which is never a good idea. The goal should be concealing that he has all the vocal inflections of an android and the acting range of a tree, not actively reminding me of it. And finally there’s that screeching, obnoxious house music that cuts in at the end, as if the montage of fight scenes isn’t enough to clue me in that this is an action movie. No, I need thumping industrial tracks completely at odds with the elegant Japanese setting and artful fight choreography to really drive home that this isn’t an artsy-fartsy period piece but a revenge-soaked bloodbath period piece.
The trailer is tone deaf and schizophrenic, but the movie could still be good, right? All the nerds are freaking about it, right? That’s true, but the nerds also freaked out about Sucker Punch based on its trailer. I don’t always trust the nerds. And while the movie could be good, it doesn’t look like it. Besides the stale loaf of bread calling itself Keanu Reeves, the special effects blow chunks. The dragon is the worst offender, looking cheap and like something from a syndicated Syfy show. It comes off especially poorly because the glimpse of Smaug at the end of The Hobbit’s trailer is kind of jaw-dropping and that effect isn’t even finished yet. But this CG rendering is complete and it’s barely one cut above those recreation videos they make for Korean television.
Maybe my problem is that I don’t like movies where Keanu Reeves pretends to understand acting. Maybe I only like him in movies where he plays stoners or people who are consistently confused/overwhelmed. Or maybe it’s monster fatigue. Maybe I’m just all monstered out, especially after the lovingly realized kaiju of Pacific Rim and that teensy bit of Smaug we’ve seen, this looks like such a half-assed afterthought. Or maybe it’s that 47 Ronin, yet another movie with a beleaguered production and a budget that spiraled out of control to the tune of $225 million, is just a disaster waiting to happen.