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Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
In 2004's Anchorman, a combination of stupidity and arrogance saw San Diego meat puppet Ron Burgundy lose and reclaim the title of No. 1 news anchor, in addition to hooking up with out-of-his-league newswoman Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate).
In director Adam McKay's sequel, set on the cusp of a new bad-hair decade -- the '80s -- the stakes are raised as Ron and Veronica, married with a child, transplant to New York City, where Veronica is better appreciated and Ron's incompetence is subject to more critical scrutiny. Inevitably, Veronica is promoted and Ron is fired. So what's a rejected anchorman to do?
The answer is to reassemble his supportive clique of friends -- investigative reporter Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), sports guy/closet case Champ Kind (David Koechner) and thick-as-a-brick weatherman Brick Tamland (Steve Carell) --to dip their newshound shnozzes in the trending new media trough: 24-hour news networks.
Therein lies the satiric edge of Anchorman 2 that prevents it from being a loose assembly of skits. The secret of Ron's success -- the thing that rescues him from a 2 a.m. shift -- is his assumption the public is as stupid as he is and will appreciate a non-stop barrage of feel-good stories, live feeds of highway chases, crack-smoking demonstrations and assertions of American superiority. Ron is not only proven right, he invents the modus operandi of both CNN and Fox News.
The story arc of the film pretty much duplicates the original and some bits fall flat. But scene for scene, the comedy lives up to its predecessor, whether it's in a new version of Anchorman's news team battle or Ferrell and McKay's experimentation with comic tropes, like a scene preceding an RV accident in which the setup ("Why do you have this bag of bowling balls and this terrarium filled with scorpions?") is just as funny as the payoff.
The Blu-ray has loads of extras, including table-read footage, an often hysterical two-part, 15-minute gag reel and a super-sized R-rated alternate cut with "764 new jokes." 3-1/2 stars
A story doesn't get more specifically Japanese than the tale of the 47 Ronin -- a thrilling but instructive tale of leaderless samurai conspiring to avenge their master that celebrates the Bushido code of honour and sacrifice.
The movie 47 Ronin dispenses with cultural specificity and delivers a disposable Hollywood action-fantasy. The decidedly non-Japanese Keanu Reeves plays Kai, a "half-breed" of mystic origins who joins forces with disenfranchised samurai warriors when their master, Lord Asano (Min Tanaka), is framed by his ambitious rival Lord Kira (Tadanobu Asano) and is compelled by the Shogun to commit ritual suicide.
Adding insult to injury, Kira is betrothed to Asano's daughter Mika (Kou Shibasaki), the woman Kai loves.
Director Carl Rinsch has a fairly strong hand for integrating elaborate visual effects into big set pieces, but no discernible talent at all for driving a narrative.
It is not a total loss. The primary villain is not Lord Kira but his supernaturally potent aide, the witch Mizuki (Rinko Kikuchi), whose appearance alternately suggests both a spider and a snake. Kikuchi brings a badly needed bit of textured perversity to a film that is otherwise as authentically Japanese as Sobeys' in-store sushi. 2 stars