Some of my most favorite movies that have come out in the last couple of years have been remakes — “Inglorious Bastards” and “Mad Max: Fury Road” come to mind. “The Magnificent Seven” might not be added to this list of favorites — it’s no “Seven Samurai” — but it did do a great job at incorporating modern problems into a classic Western/Japanese epic remake.
If I had to sum up what the critics say about this film — and I do — it would come down to one single sentence: “Antoine Fuqua, director, is meh at best, but Denzel Washington sure looks good riding a horse.”
“Fuqua is trying for John Ford meets Sergio Leone: a funky classical sweep, with room for delirious shootouts,” said Owen Gleiberman, chief film critic for Variety. “The trouble is that he mimics the trademarks of those directors without their élan, and the plot that was once catchy is now rote.”
For those of you who don’t know, John Ford is responsible for the Western classic “Stagecoach” and many others, and Sergio Leone, director of “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” is known for the directing style used in many Westerns that combines closeups of the actors followed by a long shot, panned-out view of the character and his or her surroundings.
The good news for the film is that it stars Denzel Washington.
“The new movie is as moth-eaten as the serapes strewn through the 1960 film, but there’s no denying the appeal of the image of Mr. Washington riding a horse, shooting a Colt and leading a posse of vigilantes to save a mostly white Western town,” said Manohla Dargis, chief film critic for The New York Times.
Although I can understand where these critics are coming from — I mean they actually get paid to do this — I think they fail to recognize that many of our modern problems haven’t changed over the past 50 years.
As someone who has seen all three aforementioned films, I can understand how one might throw this to the wayside as overdone. But if we look at the film as an original, then the story becomes much more important. So let’s take a look at this film not based on what came before it but as it’s own work of art.
There might be those who say, “We can’t just forget that a film is a remake; it’ll discredit the value of the original.”
I get this, but because the original came out over 50 years ago, sadly there are many moviegoers who have never seen or even heard of “Seven Samurai”— or the 1960 version of “Magnificent Seven.” Because of this, it becomes vitally important that we retell stories that carry important messages along with them.
“It’s classic mythology, it’s the hero’s journey and it’s about the best of us coming together for one cause, to do the right thing,” said Antoine Fuqua.
And by incorporating a cast made up of a wide variety of cultures, Fuqua adds to the hero’s journey and shows that anyone from any culture or race can be a hero. This minor change creates a film that connects with what’s happening in our world today.
A film, even one that has been remade time and time again, can still be entertaining with a mildly important message. Because of this, I give this movie 3 1/2 out of 5 wildcat paws.