While I certainly think Hollywood should take it easy with all the remakes, I admit I was impressed with The Magnificent Seven. I saw the original film (that film was a reimagining of Seven Samurai), but remember little about it. I went through a western phase some time ago, and it was always one that made my list. I only remember enjoying it somewhat, but was never crazy about it. I was and still am a huge fan of the 2007 remake of 3:10 to Yuma. I go back and watch that film every so often. I won’t say magnificent holds as strong a place in my heart asYuma, but it still is a more than welcome entry in the western genre.
It’s clear Director Antoine Fuqua was a fan of the original film as this version definitely has the authentic western feel. The story begins in 1879 where we meet the villain of our story, Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard). He’s more than a little corrupt and essentially holds the town up and makes them a very poor offer for their land. He’ll ultimately be taking over the hard working people’s town and give them little payment for what they’ve worked so hard for. Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett) plays the widow of one of Bogue’s victims and she enlists the help of Sam Chisholm (Denzel Washington). He then decides to recruit 6 more men to help him take on Bogue and get their town back. The plot is relatively simple, but the fun is seeing the men all train and work together to take on Bogue and his team of gunslingers. Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke and Vincent D’Onofrio are a few of the ensemble we get here. One of the strongpoints of the film is the attention that each character gets. Nobody feels shortchanged here. I loved Washington’s introduction as he first enters the town on another assignment. Fuqua really nails down the look and feel of a classic western while giving it only the slightest modern touch. The film is PG-13, but very much feels like it could and should be R-rated. There’s a very hard-hitting impact here and no shortage of intensity.
While I really did enjoy the film, there are just a couple of issues I have with it. First one, it’s just too long. It never feels dull or boring, but there could’ve been some tightening around the edges. The big shootout toward the end goes on a bit longer than it should. Still, you get your money’s worth. The other issue I have is with the Sarsgaard character. It’s no fault of the actor himself, but he somehow lacks the true menace that I felt would’ve been more welcome here. He doesn’t get many scenes, but if there was just a bit more depth to his character, I think I would’ve ultimately enjoyed it more. Not a fatal flaw, but I just wish there was more to this character. Those issues aside, the film is constantly entertaining and one of the better recent westerns.
Video: How’s it look?
Thankfully this transfer really showcases how nice and well shot the film is. The cinematography is one of the strong suits here, so you’d want a transfer that delivers the goods. This more than achieves that goal as details are striking early on. The sweat and grit on the character’s faces shows up in strong detail, the sun drenched town does as well. There’s a sharpness to the transfer, but it never feels overdone where it takes away from the film. Instead, it works in its favor. The image is AVC encoded with a 2.39:1 ratio.
Audio: How’s it sound?
The DTS HD track is a strong compliment to the powerful transfer too. The vocals are sound and crisp, but it’s the action that’ll get your attention. There’s no shortage of action here and the track really engages the listener. There’s strong range throughout and the fine little details of bullets flying, hitting objects (and many times, people) that really stand out. Fans will be pleased with this track.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Vengeance Mode – For those that remember when Warner used to do their “Maximum Movie Mode” on some of their titles, this is pretty much the same thing. The only difference is that this is more of a featurette with scenes of the movie spliced in as opposed to watching the movie with occasional “making of…” pieces put in. It’s a great way to both watch the film and enjoy the supplements at the same time. The only down side is that it’ll make the film run nearly three hours.
Deleted Scenes – Four total, but as per usual – none really offer a whole lot to the film.
What Are You Gonna Do About It?
Bravery and Responsibility
Featurettes – A little more than the standard offerings, but the usual talking heads are still present. Still, these offer a nice array of the film and what to expect.
Gunslingers – The cast recollects on their physical preparations for their respective roles as well as how those preparations reflected their individual characters.
The Taking of Rose Creek – Perhaps the marquee shot/sequence in the film takes place at Rose Creek and we get a look at how the scene was staged and set.
Magnificent Music – A look at the iconic music from the original as well as a look at the work of James Horner, who tragically died while working on this film.
Directing the Seven – The cast praises director Antoine Fuqua and his use of practical effects as well as his general directing style.
The Seven – A basic rundown of the seven stars of the film, with obvious emphasis on the main three (Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt and Ethan Hawke).
Rogue Bogue – A look at the film’s antagonist (Peter Sarsgaard) and a bit of insight into his character.
The Bottom Line
With a director who clearly loves the source material and a first-rate cast, seven won’t just please western fans, but also action loving fans as well. The film is a tad too long, but that’s not a fatal flaw. All the characters have their moment to shine, and the film is just a lot of fun as well. Whether you rent it or buy it, the film comes recommended.