3 ReviewsOrdered By: Date
47 Ronin (2013)
Engaging, entertaining movie
22 December 2013
This is one of those movies which could have been so much better, but in the hands of an inexperienced director and probably too many edits by the studio, it is not as good as you would expect from the budget and lavish sets.

That saying, the cinematography and art direction is the most gorgeous I have ever seen in a movie, and that includes Lord of the Rings. If this movie cost 175 million to make, then every cent of it is up there on screen.

If only the director put as much care into the pacing and storyline as he did into the sets! As a result, 47 Ronin has uneven storytelling. I found the first part quite slow because of necessary exposition, but it picks up 1/3rd into the movie. I also thought the action sequences were well done, but could have been prolonged. The acting was fine all round, but the women stole the show. Kudos to Ko Shibasaki for really making a passive aggressive statement and Rinko Kikuchi for chewing scenery! Oishi is the main character of this story, not Keanu's character, Kai, but Keanu always has a charismatic presence that makes every moment he appears on screen a tension-filled piece. In a nutshell, this is an entertaining piece which is not wholly accurate to history, but stays as close to it as it can.

I would totally recommend everyone watching this because it's a very sobering portrayal of Japanese historical culture, which is absolutely true and otherwise foreign to the rest of the world. (You'll know what I'm talking about when you see the movie.)
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Street Kings (2008)
Totally recommended, even for non cop movie fans
13 April 2008
I wasn't expecting to like this movie; the cop genre is not my favorite after all, but I did. I really did. It does feel like a B movie or sort of film noir, perhaps because it only cost 20 million to make. But the cast was top notch. As much as I love Keanu Reeves, I always go into any movie of his cringing, "Will he do well? Will he survive this?" And Reeves delivers with aplomb. This is easily his most nuanced role to date - he truly wears the weight of a cop who has seen and done too much on his face. The action scenes were kick ass and I loved to see Amaury Nolasco play against his Prison Break type. All the actors were great, though I thought Forest Whitaker was a little OTT.
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Constantine (2005)
Disturbing, dark and ultimately rewarding
7 February 2005
This is an extremely disturbing movie....and I can understand why many people don't like it. It's not crowd-pleasing and it contains some topics that would make a Catholic blush. But it is a movie that will stay long in your mind.

I won't go into what the story is all about, there are going to be plenty of people who will be doing that.

But I'll list what I like (spoilers ahead): 1. Keanu Reeves is great here. I've read some issues of the comic Constantine, and Reeves does make the character come across. Note that Constantine is indeed a cynical, arrogant, jaded, mostly unlikeable character with a spark of humanity hovering just below the surface. This last is most apparent in his later dealings with Angela.

I have to say this is Keanu's best performance to date.

2. Rachel Weisz - she's absolutely great. It's a very human performance - the everyman foil to the brooding Constantine.

3. The CGI - fantabulous. The images you see here will be seared in your brain long after. I found myself wishing for prolonged scenes of hell.

4. The soldier demons and the bee-demon - marvelous creations.

5. The angel Gabriel - Tilda Swinton in a completely scene-stealing role, as the angel who decides to take matters in his own hands.

Things I thought could have been done better: 1. The storyline. A little confusing at first. Then more and more is revealed, and it all comes together.

2. The climax - it's a dogma climax, of discussion and theology, not a shoot-em-up explosion climax.

3. The supporting characters have too little screen time - Chaz, Papa Midnight, Beeman.

All in all, it's a very unusual and disturbing movie. Well worth your time, to challenge your dogma, if nothing else. It's steeped in Christian lore about redemption, suicide, heaven and hell. I've personally never seen anything like it.
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