Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Magnificent Seven Review: Stellar Remake, Magnificent Western

Remakes are a dime and a dozens these days. In recent years moviegoers have seen a wide variety of classic movies return to the silver screen with new renditions as genres such as action, horror and even musicals have played a part on this new trend. Even the likes of Westerns have been no stranger to remakes. Although the genre may not be as prevalent as other movie types some classic tales of the old west have received retelling in recent years; and another one can be added to that list as now in theaters is none other than The Magnificent Seven. Directed by Antoine Fuqua this new western is based on the 1960 film by John Sturges-which incidentally is based on the 1954 movie Seven Samurai. Like any remake the new Magnificent Seven has a lot to live up to as its predecessor is regarded as one of the best westerns ever made. So can this new take do justice to the name Magnificent Seven or is this western dead to rights?

The Magnificent Seven centers on bounty hunter Sam Chisolm(Denzel Washingtom). The outlaw is hired by Emma Cullen(Haley Bennett) and the resident of Rose Creek to protect their town from the villainous Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard) who wants the town for its land. In order to fight Bogue’s army Sam gets the help from other outlaws which includes the gambler Josh Farraday (Chris Pratt), the sharpshooter Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke), an assassin named Billy Rocks (Byung-hun Lee), the Mexican Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rufio), the comanche Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier) and the tracker Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio). Together the seven band together to run Bogue’s goons out of town and help the residents of Rose Creek to fight off the notorious industrialist.

The plot behind this remake is a rather simple one. When looking at the whole story it falls under “what you see is what you get” as its main points are getting the seven together and them preparing the town to fight Bartholomew Bogue. In hindsight there is not much to this plot, but I would be remiss to say that the story was not effective. This simplistic plot is one the revels in engagement. Yes this tale has standard plot points but it was in its execution that made the story of The Magnificent Seven an enjoyable one. The only issue I had with the story was that narrative could be sporadic from time to time. Some scenes felt either rushed or placed in strange places. Yet while this issue could be distracting it did not take away from the story’s strengths. In the end the plot of Magnificent Seven was one that used classic storytelling in a way that was entertaining and thrilling.

If one factor worked in favor for The Magnificent Seven, it was definitely its cast. The movie featured two strong leads in Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt. Washington made for a convincing protagonist who dimensions was more intriguing than they first appeared; while Pratt showed that he can bring new aspects to a character type that he knows all too well. Yet what I found more impressive was how the rest of the ensemble were just as effective as the leads. Each of the seven had their time to shine whether it was Goodnight’s dilemma, Horne’s antics or just the chemistry that group had together. Not only did this direction make each character memorable, but I could not help gain a firm connection with the seven. Even character such as Emma and Teddy Q (Luke Grimes) stood out as they were characters whose conflict in the story made sense. To round things out was Peter Sargaard was Bartholomew Bogue. Although Bogue was a typical villain, Sargaard’s performance gave the industrialist a sense of charisma that made him an antagonist I could not help but love to hate. Add an appearance from Matt Bomer and you have a cast that was not only rich with character, but one that felt right at home with the Western genre.

To round things for the movie was none other than the action. While The Magnificent Seven may not have been the most action packed movie that I have seen this year, it still was among the better ones. Not only was the action both exciting, and creative, but it also worked in the movie’s context. The score from James Horner and Simon Franglen also did the movie justice. While it may not be as iconic as the score from Elmer Bernstein, the music still fit the tone of the film while expanding on the Western themes as well as the film’s cinematic moments; plus this score was the last from James Horner. When it came down to it the direction to this movie was stellar as it blended the aspects of a classic western to that of an action blockbuster.

The Magnificent Seven was definitely a surprise. While the film did rely on some standard direction it used each one to the best of their abilities; while factors such as the cast truly shined through in this fall blockbuster. While I cannot say that this remake tops its predecessor I do feel that The Magnificent Seven made for a fun film to see year as well as being a magnificent western.


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