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Movies, dining and things to do / Spokane and North Idaho

Even 3D and Keanu can’t save ‘47 Ronin’

It's been a long time since I've seen a Keanu Reeves movie. Of course, "47 Ronin" is hardly your standard Reeves movie. Contrary to the trailers, Reeves' character — a "half-breed" Japanese citizen named Kai — is only one of the leads. And, arguably, not even the most important. That hardly matters, though. Even given the fact that my brother and I chose to see the film in 3D (unnecessarily, as it turns out), "47 Ronin" proved to be a diverting view.

Set in the 18th century, "47 Ronin" is a fictionalized retelling of a real-life Japanese historical incident involving a group of samurai who disobeyed their Shogun so as to avenge the killing of their master (whose death had made them masterless, or "ronin"). It is, the movie states, a story that is still celebrated in modern Japan, revering as it does the ideals of loyalty, integrity and valuing honor over life itself. Director Carl Rinsch, working from a group-think screenplay, tells the story with an augmented sense of magic and sword-play voodoo that, apparently, was meant to make the film more "Harry Potter" than "Ran."

Bad idea, it turns out. Yet though the film is being called a financial disaster — one story claims the $175 million production, which has earned barely $14 million since opening on Christmas day, will be the year's biggest flop — that shouldn't affect those desiring to see a holiday action flick. Especially  those who want to avoid the Oscar-grabbing big titles or any heavily publicized based-on-real-event films honoring the U.S. military (we get enough of that during virtually every television sporting event).

Still, I'd suggest avoiding the extra expense of 3D. Save your money to see "Gravity" in 3D. Again.