The Magnificent Seven (PG-13)

Directed by Antione Fuqua and starring Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio and a host of others, The Magnificent Seven is a remake of the 1960 remake of Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai (1954).  Yes.  It is yet another remake of a movie that is considered a classic.

Let’s get straight to it, shall we? It is my humble opinion that the best thing about this movie is that it modernizes the 1960 version by diversifying the cast.  Many cultures and ethnicities are brought together and represented here in a way that doesn’t seem so unlikely.  This is a perfect vehicle for a diversified cast, and that diversification was excellently done.

This remake is a reminder of why Americans love westerns; lots of action, room for jokes, gun fights, camaraderie among men (some of them pretty damn good looking, by the way), suspense, fun and adventure. Even when some of the good guys are sort of bad, there is still a clear hero to root for and a villain to root against.

The slight blurring of the lines between good and evil among the “good” characters is what makes the movie interesting, along with each character’s personal motive for joining the Seven. Some of the Magnificent Seven are not people you would want to have a run-in with outside of this particular set of circumstances, but no matter their motivation you respect their noble efforts to protect this little town.

There is a not-so-subtle theme of faith that runs throughout this movie. The church is represented as the center of the community, the townspeople gather there, they pray together outside of church and many of the Seven pray or quote scripture throughout the movie.  This theme of faith helps to balance out the violence that is going on around these people who have a lot of troubles to pray on.  And this faith-based aspect adds depth to many of the characters, including the townspeople, collectively.

Vincent D’Onofrio and Ethan Hawke did some of the best acting I have seen out of them in years. You will fall in love with D’Onofrio’s wild character.  All of the Magnificent Seven were multifaceted with a brutal side and a sweet side.

I enjoyed the interactions among the Seven. The conflicts between members of the Seven were interesting to watch; sometimes tough, sometimes funny, but never too sentimental or sappy.  Until…  Well, if you watch it you will see.  This is a movie that was remade (referring to the 1960 version) at a time when “men were men” on screen.  They didn’t “do” sentiment really.  I appreciate that there were no “tender” moments among the men, except… that one…

Alas. When you see it you will know.

Problem number two (aside from that extremely annoying sentimental moment) that I had with this movie is that it never quite captures that “YEAH!!!” you want to exclaim when the good guys are winning. Of course, the victory is bittersweet for a number of reasons, but this is the type of movie where you should have to stop yourself from cheering out loud, or you don’t get upset because someone else in the theater cheered because the good guys are winning!  Aw, screw it!  I want to cheer!  “YEAH!!!”  I never quite got to that moment of being invested and really rooting for the good guys.  I was just a woman in a theater watching a pretty good movie.  I mean, the shooting was entertaining.  Don’t get me wrong.  But this is the type of movie where the audience should be clapping at the end!  That feeling of triumph never came for me.  Now, when the good guys got hurt – THAT I felt.

Somebody has got to say it, so it might as well be me.  Denzel Washington should have lost about 20 pounds for this role. He would have fit the character so much better.  No one believes this fat rich looking dude did the stunt he does – not as soft-around-the-middle as he looks here.  I understand he is getting older, and that’s fine, but this character is an active, bad-ass who rides around the country collecting bounties.  Make me believe it!  At least put on a girdle man!  Just because his character is quick with a gun doesn’t mean he wouldn’t be in shape.  And yeah, I’m gonna go there – Yule Brynner didn’t have a paunch!

And again with the whitened teeth where they do not belong! Whitened teeth and the old West do not go together.  Ever.  I can see I’m going to need to send an email to makeup artists and directors across the industry and remind them of this.  Seriously.  It has become a real problem that makes Hollywood productions that attempt to capture a certain period look quite inauthentic and it needs to stop!

So, there it is. The Magnificent Seven, not a terrible remake, but neither a masterpiece earned 7.5 out of 10 bloops.  It could have been better, but it is a good movie worth seeing.  The prolonged final gun battle makes it screen worthy, and it goes along quite well until…  Well…

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