Monday, November 5, 2012

The Cinema File #15: "Hirokin: The Last Samurai" Review

Can you imagine American Beauty's Wes Bentley as a badass samurai warrior? No? Yeah, me neither. And that's not even the biggest problem with Hirokin: The Last Samurai.

I had never heard of this movie before I saw the poster for it online, and after watching it, I'm kind of wistful for that bygone era when I didn't know this thing existed. To call it a bad movie is to give it too much credit, because that would presuppose that it is a movie. Hirokin: The Last Samurai, is not a movie in the strictest sense. It's narrative does not flow from one scene to the next in a way that makes you think a story is being told, so much as a series of references are being trotted out without much care for substance or style. Hirokin is all the parts of Star Wars set on Tatooine, loosely strung together with some other crap from other sandy sci-fi movies, with all the talent and creativity sapped out of them, and with the sub-textual ripoff of samurai movies just made plain text. I'm pretty sure this was the fake movie within the movie in Argo that they were gonna make to get those Americans out of Iran, and they just changed the name at the last minute.

Hirokin takes place on a desert world called Arid. Let that fucking burst of genius sink in first. Its a desert world, what do we call it? How about Hotdrylandia? No, too subtle, let's just go with Arid. On the planet Arid, humans have raped the world of its resources, specifically a metal that makes other metal float, because in a future where humans can travel to other planets, making shit float is somehow still an issue, and now that this metal (Aridium, naturally) is nearly depleted, they've decided to switch to a keeping slaves in cages for no reason economy under despotic leader Julian Sands. Eventually, he kidnaps the wrong man's wife and runs afoul of Hirokin, played by the never good in anything ever Wes Bentley, who is the chosen one apparently for reasons no one seems interested in explaining, and who joins up with a resistance movement of the lamest aliens ever depicted in cinema, only different from humans due to their slightly veiny hands in a make-up job so lazy it gives season one Next Generation a run for its money.

They call the main guy Hirokin. For godssakes. I could have misheard it, but I'm pretty sure that by the end, they literally forget all pretense and just start chanting "Hero." And of course he's got a dark past that we don't really see. I mean, I assume we never saw it, because if what they're talking about is the first scene flashback where he meets his wife, his dark history basically amounts to him wandering into a village being attacked by some other dudes and then running away. Oh, and he has a sword that he ties to a rope and throws at people, than pulls back to himself. This happens twice, successfully. You wanna know why you don't typically see this happen ever in movies with swordfighting in it? Do I have to point out how fucking ridiculous that is? I don't even know what this character's motivations are half the time. I know that the movie is telling me he wants to get his family back, but he spends so much time dawdling around in the desert while his wife and son are literally being raised by the bad guy, he seems to forget everything about them.

And what does he do in the desert? He learns The Way. Think The Force, without all that cool shit The Force can do, which is to say, it does fucking nothing at all. Its supposed to let a person unwind time, but nothing really comes of it. At one point it seems like he freezes time, or maybe he's just super observant and squinty or something, because he never uses it to his advantage. You'd think if he can unwind time he could reverse the tragic death that happens like right after that. Oh, and fuck not spoiling this, no one cares. And how do you learn The Way? You learn it by mastering the art of punching a fat guy in the face while he spouts psuedo-philosophical nonsense at you in a cave. I lost count of how many different, contradictory explanations there were of what The Way actually was or how you follow it, as if any of them fucking mattered.

I sat through an hour of this movie thinking that it was so sad that an actor as great as Julian Sands was so wasted in it, before I realized that Julian Sands was just that guy from the fucking Warlock movies. Then I realized I was mistaking him for that guy who played the dad of the bully in the Harry Potter movies who was just in that Awake show. Then I remembered that I fucking hated the Harry Potter movies and that Awake show! I don't know who I like that's like these two guys, but I'm pretty sure it is neither of these two guys. And the villain's main henchman is basically General Star Wars. I don't want to suggest that he is vaguely similar to a Star Wars villain. They literally took Boba Fett's mask, painted it black, wrapped it in Palpatine's cloak, and gave him Darth Vader's heavy breathing apparatus. George Lucas rips off other shit all the time and hardly ever sues anyone for Star Wars parodies, and even I think he should sue over this shit.

I liked exactly two things in this movie, and when I say liked, I mean they were mildly interesting or entertaining compared to the vast wealth of pain that was the rest of the movie. The first was an extended sequence where husbands are chained together with their wives and forced to fight other husbands, to stop an elaborate spike device from impaling their loved ones. It was a marginally interesting concept, but even then, it only serves to set up the worst death fake out in cinema history. The other somewhat amusing thing was a duo of comic relief traders who basically watch the movie with us and Statler and Waldorf the whole thing. They are so not in keeping with the tone of the movie as to seem probably funnier than they actually were, but in a movie like this so devoid of things to enjoy even a little bit, I'll take whatever I can get. At least Arachnoquake had one character that was good all the way through, even if it was the bastard from Star Trek: Voyager.

I thought I had reached my limit on how little I could give a shit about a story, but this broke through that wall like the fucking sound barrier. I'm actually kind of proud of myself for how little I give a shit about this, like I've reached a new level of apathy heretofore unknown to man.

Maybe I've learned The Way. I think I'll go test it by punching a fat dude in the face in the desert.

For more reviews in The Cinema File, CLICK HERE
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