The Magnificent Seven (Remake) – 3.5/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

mag-7The Magnificent Seven (Remake) – 3.5/5 –  Every year, there are always a few films that come out that are rehashing of previous material.  The perpetual feeling is that when a movie is remade, it isn’t good because it can’t stand up to the original.  Regardless of this notion; it is still a new movie that takes a different approach through modernizing the story.  For this, I go into remakes with the same perception I go into any film.  I expect to be entertained.  This is a remake of two different classics.  The Magnificent Seven captures the ideals, fun and excitement of a Western film.  Even for some of the predictable elements and standard direction, The Magnificent Seven is a fun time at the theaters.

Premise: Seven men come together to stop a mining company from taking over a town.

There is a whole list of actors/actresses.  I would recommend referring to the film’s IMDb page for the full list.  Being a Western, the ideal situation is to provide a balance between archetypes of the genre and the realistic overtures for the audience to relate to.  All the actors/actress do a swell job in providing that balance within their unique, raw and distinct caricatures that they create on the big screen.  No matter if is the seven that come together, the Town’s folk or the villain-eques mine company, you feel the power and intuitive nature of the characters.  The true stand outs are:

Denzel Washington as Chisolm

Chris Pratt as Josh Faraday

Peter Sarasgaard as Bartholomew Bogue

Haley Bennett as Emma Cullen

These four do a good job in providing the anchor for their respective parties.  With Washington and Pratt as Chisolm and Josh Faraday, you see true comradery that can only be present within this kind of genre.  The whimsical and slick bantering combined with the coordinated action prowess; you see the layering of strong but flawed individuals.  As Bartholomew Bogue, Sarasgaard does a great job in dancing the line of clichés that are common in a ‘western styled’ villain.  He does enough to provide a layering of dark qualities to create someone of real antagonistic motives.  He does well in not going overboard and becoming cartoonish or one-dimensional.  Haley Bennett is an up and coming actress who does a great job in her role as Emma Cullen.  As a widower, she provides the rod for the community ravaged by Bogue and his mining company.  Her raw emotions help provide a complex that creates a conflict with her duties to her town and aspiration in stopping Bogue from taking over.  The overall interactions between the Town’s folk, the Seven and the mining company are very simplistic.  This helps add to the atmospheric tone.  In doing this, it provides a conjecture for the audience to become part of the connective ‘family and friends’ aspect of this world.

The direction goes about a very predictable path.  The outline doesn’t stray too far from the original, while also playing to the basic themes of:

Good vs bad

Hero’s Tale

Road of Revenge

All of these combine with the three acts as followed:

First act: Introduction to the main plot points of who, what, where and why.  Person/people with no hope seek help from an unknown hero (through use of fate plot device).

Second act: Hero puts together an oddball crew.  First confrontation/warning with bad guys.  Expositional layers of characters (all sides); leads to (inevitable) final confrontation.

Third act: The ultimate confrontation between Hero’s crew/Town folks (good guys) vs. Villain and crew (bad guys).  Standard Western elements of action (gunfights, dynamite explosion, standoffs and common/unwanted deaths).  Final confrontation and ‘Triumph’ conclusion.

As the film goes through this standardized approach, you would expect it to be drawn out and boring.  What makes this remake stand out beyond the commonalities is the atmosphere, character elements and witty/unpredictable dialogue.  The director allows you to feel the raw nature of the frontier, towns, people and lawlessness that encompass this genre.  With the focus on tone, it allows the characters to command the screen.  There unhinging conversations, familiar exposition and witty dialogue helps build up the situations that they become involved with in the film.  This allows for the purity of the genre to take effect.  As we head through all the predictable threads that lead to the final act, it becomes that common Western Standoff.  This is done well with a combination of focal action, intense one-on-one bouts and layered ‘Western genre’ dynamic.  As this happens, it never takes away from the characters; heightening each of their qualities and flaws.  Once you head into the epilogue, the ‘sendoff’ might come off as cliché.  Even though it does, it is a welcome conclusion that lends itself to how this kind of film should be.

The visuals are simply breathtaking.  What the director does is provide a lens of ambiguity.  This forces the audience to feel the naturalistic tones of the western frontier.  This blends a feeling towards the environment, allowing the fictionalized tale to become a breathing entity.  From the vast open ranges, mountains and the small towns, you feel this world as your own.  Even with the action, you feel a raw intensity that allows for grittiness to outshine glamor.  The score is a mix bag of many things.  You have a mixture of new and old music.  What this does is add an element of fragmentation.  As much as the film stands on its own in the aspect of tone and character, the music breaks the entertainment by forcing a ‘reminder’ of what it is based on.  Even when this happens, it doesn’t completely kill the experience.

The Magnificent Seven is a fun time at the theaters.  Even for a lot of same stuff being rehashed, the character and tonal dynamic helps provide an entertaining experience.  If you’re a fan of the director, actors/actresses or enjoy westerns, this is one for you.  I say it is worth going to the theaters and watching.

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