Monday, September 26, 2016


Starring Denzel Washington,
Chris Pratt,
Ethan Hawke,
Vincent D'Onofrio,
Byung-hun Lee,
Manuel Garcia Rulfo,
Martin Sensmeier,
Haley Bennett,
Peter Sarsgaard
Directed by Antoine Fuqua
Written by Richard Wenk, Nic Pizzolatto
Based on the screenplay by Akira Kurosawa,
Shinobu Hashimoto, Hideo Oguni
Runtime 133 minutes
Rated PG-13

Should have re-released the 1960 original. Better still, re-release Seven Samurai.

The latter, directed by Akira Kurosawa, is one of the greatest films ever. And this re-make of the re-make is even further off the mark than the first.

Fundamentally, Seven Samurai is a post-WWII picture. To equate the gun with the sword is to completely misunderstand the movie. The anonymity of the bullet is the same as that of the bomb. Between the skill, the bravery, the character of the samurai with his sword, and the ability to merely pull a trigger or drop a bomb, there is simply no comparison.

So when Hollywood turned a samurai movie into a Western with The Magnificent Seven, in spite of an amazing cast and a rousing score, it was a flawed idea from the start. A classic, but flawed.

Now, in keeping with the children's game "telephone," the original communication is all but completely lost. Nor does this new version offer improvement. Actually, the reverse. Too often it's just flat out stupid.

Instead of bandits planning to rob a small village, this time it's a gold mining company headed by one Bartholomew Bogue (Sarsgaard). To stop the crook from taking over, a stalwart young widow (Bennett) determines to procure aid from a bounty hunter (Washington) who in turn needs to enlist all the help he can get. That would be a half dozen other guys.

The real version has Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, James Coburn--big names. Plus Eli Wallach, textbook bastard, as the main bad guy. Plus great music. One of the most recognizable movie themes ever.

This fake version has nothing to compare with any of that. Looks like the filmmakers figured on bringing in older audiences curious to see how bad this gets screwed up, plus younger audiences based on it being a new release at a time with no competition.

Instead they should have come up with an original idea.

The villain is weak, and the casting comically inauthentic. As a Western it deserves a place right alongside Sharon Stone as a gunslinger in The Quick and the Dead.

To the good, it does have Vincent D'Onofrio as one of the seven, proving that even with this material his acting stands out. His squeaky-voiced old trapper-type dude is the best part of the movie, not counting the original's Elmer Bernstein music during the end credits.

As standard forgettable two-star fare, this is the sort of movie that would be fine for gelling in front of on free TV. Not worth paying to see in a theater, though.

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