CHICAGO – If you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between a director and a producer, let “47 Ronin” explain how the hierarchy of creativity hinders the evolution of even the most straightforward-sounding pitches. “47 Ronin” is the type of samurai movie set in Japan that features native actors speaking only English, while Keanu Reeves stars as an outsider clearly plunked into the picture for stateside star power.
CHICAGO – I’m dating myself but I was a young, fantasy-obsessed teen when I first saw Ron Howard’s “Willow.” Revisiting it 25 years later in the newly-released Blu-ray, I was instantly stunned by how old the film looked. A lot of the physical effects, the general tone, the dialogue — it feels more like a ’70s movie than some ’80s fantasies that predate it (“Legend” and “Ladyhawke” come to mind). And a sinking feeling entered my bones. “Willow” isn’t great. Yes, it has some nostalgic charm and hardcore fans will dig the HD release but I hope you don’t have the same realization that I do that my 13-year-old self may have overrated it.
CHICAGO – Power, royalty, sex, corruption — Is this “Camelot,” “The Kennedys,” or “The Borgias”? There’s an odd number of tales of royal families on TV this weekend and the best belongs to Showtime with an instantly-striking performance from the Oscar-winning Jeremy Irons.
CHICAGO – Mel Gibson’s return to the big screen in the thriller “Edge of Darkness” was relatively disappointing at the box office this weekend (opening with Gibson’s lowest first weekend box office since 1995) but not only is that film worth your time but you should definitely take a look at the award-winning 1985 BBC mini-series that inspired it, directed by the same filmmaker, Martin Campbell (“Casino Royale”).