Monday, March 31, 2014

47 Ronin: A quick review from a D&D gamer's point of view

I have to say, I really enjoyed 47 Ronin. It's a samurai adventure movie set in a mythical fantasy version of Japan, and based on the Japanese legend Chushingura.

It wasn't Kurosawa, but it was 100 times better looking, directed and presented than anything Zack Snyder has ever done. It had fantastic colors without looking stupid and over-processed like 300 (which I see it being compared to). Although Kan't-act Reeves was his classic stiff and emotionless self, his face isn't as stupid looking at as other 2x4 pieces of wood like Ryan Gosling. What helps is that, even though Reeves is top-billed, his character really felt like a plot device to the overall story--The revenge story of 47 outcast, former samurai warriors, that expressed the ultimate show of loyalty and honor to their former lord. Being a fantasy, and an American movie, they took liberties with the "true story" to make it a comic-book like action adventure set in a fantastic medieval Japan. The movie was almost two hours long, but it felt a lot shorter. I think this can be attributed to the film's pacing, directing or editing. The action scenes were satisfying, a ton of fun without being way-too-long. The monster designs were great, yes there are monsters, along with giants, demons and witches--I had a few "oh shit" moments to some of the details of these monsters. (I did wonder what the first "beast" did to deserve the wrath of Ako's samurai, Ako being the home city of the 47.) The costumes were stylized and color coded, which I like in fantasy movies between warring factions. This movie could easily be redressed as a European medieval fantasy, and it would be very much what a D&D movie could be. (There were several quests and adventure moments that played out like standard D&D adventures.) What it succeeded most was making "Asian-flavored" campaign settings like Red Tide appealing.