Monday, September 26, 2016

The Magnificent Seven (2016)

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! They're magnificent because The Sensational Seven sounds like a musical.

The Magnificent Seven (2016) – 4 out of 5

I can’t say I’ve ever been the biggest fan of westerns.  Sure, there are films here and there that I dig and the whole premise of the Wild West is pretty cool when you think about it—hell, I’m still obsessed with Red Dead Redemption and have played the game in its entirety (100% completion) about three times.  With that in mind, it’s still not a genre I tend to gravitate to.  However, when I saw the trailer for The Magnificent Seven—which is a remake of a 1960s film of the same name and that was a re-imagining of a 1954 Japanese film called Seven Samurai—I was sold.

                                                                     Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Columbia Pictures
That's a whole lot of awesome in one picture.

In 1879 in the small town of Rose Creek, a greedy businessman by the name of Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard) has taken control and has forced the good citizens to give up their land.  After Bogue’s men murders her husband, Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett) seeks out help from a bounty hunter by the name of Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington).  Chisolm goes on to recruit another six men; the gambler Josh Faraday (Chris Pratt), the sharpshooter Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke), the knife-wielding master Billy Rocks (Byung-hun Lee), the outlaw Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), the expert tracker Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio) and the Comanche warrior Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier).  Together, they face the impossible and attempt to reclaim the town and stop Bogue’s army.

                                                                     Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Columbia Pictures
Men's Rights Activists, you might want to avoid this one.  The female character
is just as good as the men in the film and I know your fragile masculinity hates that.

Antoine Fuqua is a very talented director who has given us some incredible films over the years—especially Training Day—and he really made something extremely entertaining and engaging with The Magnificent Seven.  He really showed some awesomely tense sequences that perfectly capture the essence of the Wild West and the gun-slinging nature of the beast.  These perfectly executed moments are seen in the small moments were we see someone like Billy engaged in a duel (by the way, check out Byung-hun Lee in The Good, the Bad, the Weird, great movie) or when the standoffs get bigger and we see a life-or-death game of chicken between Chisolm and his men verses Bogue’s goons.  Fuqua really used great, tight camera angles and perfectly paced timing to create moments that build exponentially and pay off tremendously.  It’s very much the strongest part of the film.

                                                                      Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Columbia Pictures
If this wasn't a western, this shot would need a killer hard rock song or
bumping hip hop song to accompany it.

                                          Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Columbia Pictures
We need to be thankful everyday that we are alive
in an era where Chris Pratt exists.
The Magnificent Seven is also shining extremely brightly in the cast.  The core seven wranglers are all filled by extremely talented individuals and every single one of them is nailing their character and hitting it out of the park (went with a baseball metaphor there because I couldn’t think of a cowboy one).  Additionally, they all have great chemistry together and it helps make them all very likable and become the heroes that you actively cheer for during the story.  This really helps when you consider that some of their development in the story is a bit lacking but they are established well enough that you get the gist of who they are and they have enough charisma or pure badassery that you enjoy them.  Plus, Vincent D’Onofrio talks in a voice that sorta sounds like a crazy prospector (albeit a little more subdued and less cartoonish) and that fact alone is awesome and a super fun element to the movie.

                                                                     Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Columbia Pictures
Is there any role that Vincent D'Onofrio can't do?
Answer:  No.

Finally, the film also offers up some great action.  The story litters in enough small moments during the film’s build up that are enough to satisfy but the film really goes all-out with the final war between the town and Bogue’s army.  This conflict is filed with bullets, dynamite and all-around uncut action spectacle and it goes for an extended period of time without ever growing tiresome, tedious or repetitive.  The stunts and moments placed within this time are truly awesome to take in.

                                                                     Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Columbia Pictures
I'm not really a cowboy type of guy but a part of me wants these fashions
to come back...but the other part of me doesn't want to sweat to death
in them.

The only real downside that the movie had for me is that there are some character development issues.  We learn the basics of all characters and they work for what they are but it would have been nice to see a little more depth from all of them.  This additional development would have been helpful to when the film showcases that two of the characters have some important history together.  The story never really feathers this out before hand and it kinda feels tacked on when it is revealed. 

                                                                    Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Columbia Pictures
Man, everything Denzel does somehow looks 10 times cooler because
he is doing them.

Additionally, it would have been nice to see more of the villain Bogue in the story.  He’s introduced at the very beginning and the film definitely shows him to be a threat and we're given enough for us to hate him but it would have been great to spend more time with him and see just how horrible of a person he can be.  Peter Sarsgaard does a great job of being the ruthless mining mogul but he’s so good and so great at being vile that I really wanted to see more of him.

                                                                     Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer/Columbia Pictures
Just the fact that the whole conflict looked like it bored Bogue is another reason I thought
he was a cool villain and needed more screen time.

The Magnificent Seven has some very minor problems in the development and showcasing of its characters but it’s never to a point where it destroyed the integrity of the story or what the film is trying to accomplish nor did it ruin its entertainment value.  The story may be simple and you know exactly where it is going but its charismatic cast of characters, fantastic performances and great action makes the journey an entertaining one and the film proves to be a great popcorn action western.

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