BECAUSE I DID NOT WANT HIM for my partner was the reason, I was sure, I wound up assigned to him by the professor. Maybe the teacher was able to pick up the negative vibes I had toward this student, who I found to be loud and obnoxious. During lectures, this student would make snide or rude comments in a voice only loud enough for the students who were around him. Inevitability, there would be a student who would have to stifle their laughter from the comment, making it hard for the rest of us to hear the teacher. It was not like I was so strait-laced and proper, but this was an ongoing thing that got annoying to me after the first few times. When the professor paired us together for the assignment, I detected a bit of hesitancy on this classmate’s part. We never had any type of interaction; he was just as perplexed about me being selected as his partner. I gathered my belongings and changed seats with the person sitting next to him. The subject of this class was sociology; so, I assumed the professor was making these moves to prove some type of point about society. I only hoped this was going to be a one-time event because I was already missing the comfort of my former seat. AFTER THE PROFESSOR EXPLAINED THE ASSIGNMENT, the two of us spoke for the first time. I offered my take on what we needed to get to the next step. As I spoke, I noticed on the inside cover of his notebook was the logo for one of my favorite music bands. I asked him if he had drawn it and he said yes. It turned out he was a fan of the band as well. When I mentioned I thought the drawing of the logo was perfect, he smiled then flipped through some more pages to reveal other band logos he had drawn. Each of them was so precise and accurate that I could not help myself from telling him about going to a couple of those bands’ concerts. I could tell by his facial expression, he was surprised to hear how much I was into music; funny, I was thinking the same thing about him. We wound up in this detailed discussion of the various bands’ song choices, momentarily forgetting about the actual task at hand. I would have never guessed we would have bonded over music. For the rest of the semester, whenever there was an opportunity, we would sit together. The cliché, “Never judge a book by its cover” can be applied here as well as in this animated, action comedy. FORCED BY AN EVIL LORD TO defend a town from a brutal villain, a hound quickly discovers the citizens hate him simply because he is a dog. The townsfolk are all cats. With Michael Cera (Molly’s Game, Gloria Bell) voicing Hank, Samuel L. Jackson (Shaft, Big Game) voicing Jimbo, Ricky Gervais (The Invention of Lying, Ghost Town) voicing Ika Chu, relative newcomer Kylie Kuloka voicing Emiko and Mel Brooks (Blazing Saddles, Spaceballs) voicing The Shogun; this movie was an odd mix. The humor went from the level of young kids to adults; the idea of the story was fun, but it came across like a Kung Fu Panda wannabe with Blazing Saddles by Mel Brooks. The animation was well done and there were pieces of dialog I enjoyed. Underlying all of this was the message behind the story, which I thought was admirable. There also was an easy predictability to the script that kept a steady pace of action and banter going all the time. If I had not connected to the message, I do not think I would have stayed engaged with this picture. There was a short extra scene after the ending credits.
2 ¼ stars
I am always eager to read or hear a good story. The stories from friends and family are special to listen to since there is the personal aspect to them; for example, a friend telling me how the unusual mantle clock on their dresser came to them from their grandfather. I only wish I knew the story behind a silver cup that was given to me that belonged to my great, great grandfather; imagine what kind of tale that would be. Another type of story I enjoy are the ones that have to do with public places like the reasons why the city of Chicago reversed the direction of the Chicago River or the true story behind the stock exchange building in Savannah, Georgia. When it comes to movies, I am always looking to be entertained by a good story. With regards to this adventure fantasy film, I thought it would be especially interesting since the film was based on an 18th century Japanese story about samurai. Never accepted as a true member of the village, the leader of a band of samurai named Oishi, played by Hiroyuki Sanada (The Wolverine, The Twilight Samurai), would have to depend on the special skills only Kai, played by Keanu Reeves (Speed, The Matrix franchise), could offer in the group’s quest to clear the name of their former master. From what I understood the historic legend was about 47 samurai who were known as ronins, which means without a master. So with this archival reference I thought the studio would have gone the extra distance to make a vivid action movie worthy of the story. Unfortunately that was not the case with this dull plodding film. Keanu did himself no favors, acting more like a supporting character; with his standard short, staccato quiet way of speaking. It is something everyone has seen before and all it achieved here was to dim my senses. The script was pretty much a total mess; I did not feel hardly any emotions throughout the scenes. At least there were a few good battle scenes; however, with the fantasy element being part of this story, I felt there was not enough of it in the film to make it noteworthy. Adding in the marketing of this movie, it looked like the studio spent a lot of money to make this picture. Sadly, the only story that will be told about this fiasco will be how the movie studio took a hit on their earnings for ruining a legendary tale. Several scenes had Japanese with English subtitles.
1 2/3 stars