Movie Review: The Magnificent Seven (2016)

magnificentseven2016by Steve Lancaster9/30/16
This is the third installment of what has become a classic Japanese story, Seven Samurai (1954). The first was directed by Kurosawa and staring the very talented Toshiro Mifune changed the nature and scope of Japanese cinema. It was one of the highest grossing Japanese films of its time.

I grew up with the first American remake (1960), staring Yul Brynner and the fabulous score by Elmer Bernstein. I was prepared to not like the current remake, and that is easy to do as most remakes take the exact story and just add new actors. In the case of action movies, the change element is more action with the loss of plot development. However, I decided that Denzel Washington was enough of a reason to see what the director, Antoine Fuqua, would do.

I have to admit that I had some uneasiness as the cast is more diverse and, knowing Hollywood, I assumed more PC, with a Black, Indian, Mountain Man, Mexican, Yankee, Rebel and Asian. I assume that we all know the basic story line. I will spare the redundancy to just comment that if you know either of the previous movies you will not be surprised.

In the 1960 version, the villagers are outnumbered, outgunned, and seemingly unwilling to defend themselves. In this version, the villagers are also outgunned but not unwilling to fight back when given leadership. Our heroic seven give a crash course in small arms, tactics, and how to ambush the bad guys. One positive element is the addition of a woman, Emma Cullen, played by Haley Bennett as an almost eighth member of the group. She is the one who recruits Chisolm (Washington). And although there is no love story, she is a strong character who saves Chisolm’s life.

This movie stands in its own right and I think that Kurosawa would approve. The story of the strong defending the weak is one that Americans know and understand, and one I might add that every Marine would approve. When all the fighting, killing, and blowing things up is over. The three remaining ride out of town. There is an implicit understanding that although Chisolm and friends are welcome to stay, the villagers really desire them to leave. This is natural and normal — those who stand the wall defending civilization are always outside the social order.

the-magnificent-seven-1 • (957 views)

Share
This entry was posted in Movie Reviews. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Movie Review: The Magnificent Seven (2016)

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I think this is a good and thoughtful review. Whether or not I agree with it…well…Steve has whetted my appetite to see the movie.

    Also (and I’m just good-naturedly pulling your leg or busting your chops), I’m interested to find out if Mr. Lancaster has gone PC native:

    One positive element is the addition of a woman, Emma Cullen, played by Haley Bennett as an almost eighth member of the group.

    Or is she the token magnificent female (as opposed to the token ass-kicking female)? We shall see! But can’t have an all-guy picture in this day and age. That would break the modern rule of “inclusiveness.” Brother. (or sister…whatever)

    • Tom Riehl Tom Riehl says:

      Brad, here’s my superficial take on this; I will watch the movie.

      “The story of the strong defending the weak is one that Americans know and understand, and one I might add that every Marine would approve.”

      And winsome women are always welcome. And, better movies are seldom created.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Tom, I’m very interested to see this movie in the guise of this site’s Registered Misogynist (which simply means that I don’t drink the Kool-aid of feminism).

        Movies are chock full of token blacks, token women, and token Hispanics. Sometimes it works to great effect (Private Vasquez in “Aliens”) but usually I find it stupid.

        And movies today can’t let the boys be boys. You just gotta stick a woman in there. But it’s certainly possible (however unlikely given the “seven” of “The Magnificent Seven”) that she is not token and is a good addition.

        Many of the old movies had no problem with a strong female character. But they usually had a reason to be in the movie. Think Barbara Stanwyck in “Double Indemnity.” There was no reason to tokenize her. Nor was there reason to play PC games with Joan Crawford in “Mildred Pierce.”

        The fact is, I love strong females roles if they make sense and aren’t just PC feminist garbage (as is typically the case these days) being rammed down our throats.

    • Steve Lancaster says:

      Brad,
      Emma is what we think of as a strong frontier woman. She is the one that recruits Chisholm and when questioned why she brought back gunfighters by a villager another says, “because she is the only here with balls”. She is not a warrior in the mode of Samurai women, who often went into battle with their husbands and fathers, but she is no pansy either and a hell of a fine shot.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Well well well. We shall see, Mr. Lancaster, although it might be some time until this comes to Red Box. Or is it already there?

        • Steve Lancaster says:

          My guess is that you might see it on redbox around Christmas, but it might be Easter if the box office is good.

          One last thing the homage to Elmer Bernstein in the end credits-wonderful.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        in the mode of Samurai women, who often went into battle with their husbands and fathers,

        While some Samurai women were taught to use a type of spear to defend their homes if attacked, and virtually all were taught to commit suicide by stabbing themselves in the throat to avoid dishonor, it cannot be said that Samurai women “often” went into battle with their husbands and fathers. Particularly not after the Minamoto set up the first Bakufu government in Kamakura in 1185.

        Of course, over the centuries, some women went out to fight, but given the Shogun style government (Bakufu) lasted from 1185 to about 1865, the number of such women was pretty small.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Suicide wouldn’t be confined to samurai women. Recall the Suicide Cliffs of Saipan. Critics of the atomic bombs usually are unaware of that horrifying reference and its implications.

          • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

            Suicide wouldn’t be confined to samurai women.

            No it wouldn’t be. And the Suicide Cliffs of Saipan demonstrated something else about the culture, i.e. Japanese parents who are about to commit suicide very often (more often than not) kill their children first. They do this because they do not wish to leave orphans in a society where no one will take care of their children.

            And as to females fighting, I would guess than throughout Japanese history more peasant woman fought and defended their homes and families than samurai women. Bamboo spears and farming tools can be used as weapons.

  2. Timothy Lane says:

    I’ve never seen the Japanese original, though I once read an article comparing it to the 1960 movie, which I have seen. The characters were surprisingly similar according to that. Note that the Magnificent 7 do teach the villagers to help in their defense, but it turns out they don’t all appreciate it (perhaps because the raiders are fellow Mexicans and the gunfighters are American).

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Vice versa. I can’t say for sure that I’ve seen the American remake. I saw the Japanese original a couple years ago (I think I left a review around here somewhere) and was blown away by it.

      Here’s that review.

      • Steve Lancaster says:

        Nice review Brad, if you understand Japanese, even chiisai, there are some jokes that do not make it to the subtitles, better yet turn off the subtitles and just enjoy the flow.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      Note that the Magnificent 7 do teach the villagers to help in their defense, but it turns out they don’t all appreciate it (perhaps because the raiders are fellow Mexicans and the gunfighters are American).

      I always thought the clique’ which didn’t appreciate the 7 teaching them to fight were more cowards than Gringo haters. After seeing that it was going to take more than one little fight to defeat the bandidos, they appeared to reconsider the cost of getting rid of Eli Wallach and his posse’. In this, they were like much of humanity; unhappy about their situation, but not willing to do very much/make the sacrifice to change it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *