If you’re looking for a true remake of the 1960 western film when you head to theaters for “The Magnificent Seven” (2016), you’re going to be highly disappointed.
There are, indeed, seven men shooting the bad guys, but there’s not much else to look forward to as far as similarities with the classic John Sturges film, starring Yul Brynner.
The Mexican village that Yul Brynner’s character sets out to save in the original film is replaced by a mining town named “Rose Creek” that is being threatened by a mustached industrialist, as opposed to the Mexican bandit leader “Calvera” from the ’60s original.
The Mexican community that comes together to defend the village in the original film is replaced by a slew of white faces in the new remake.
However, don’t think this film is lacking in representation—“Magnificent Seven” includes African-American actor Denzel Washington as the lead, and South Korean actor Lee Byung-hun as the knife-slinging “Billy Rocks.”
Manuel Garcia-Rulfo plays a Mexican outlaw who joins the seven, and Alaskan native Martin Sensmeier makes his feature-film debut as a Native American warrior, making the lead cast a diverse and poster-worthy group of faces.
Unfortunately, a few politically progressive casting choices can’t save a cheesy script and some less-than-desirable technical elements.
First things first: “The Magnificent Seven” is definitely short of magnificent. It was more like “The Mediocre Seven.”
I’ll first acknowledge my biggest issue—the dialogue in the remake was some of the most unnatural dialogue I’ve ever heard in a film.
The acting didn’t make it any better—not even the reactions to the tragic deaths in the film were believable. The dramatic moments, the comedic moments and everything in between were over-acted and had a cheesy flair.
I know all cowboys need those memorable one-liners … but this movie took those deep-voiced death threats so far that by the end of the movie I was rolling my eyes at every word Denzel Washington spoke.
While this film was not the worst thing I’ve seen this year, I couldn’t help but feel like I was watching an adult-oriented Disney movie with the tasteless quips and laughably handsome men.
If you’re looking for two hours of fan service, by all means, get those tickets.
Chris Pratt played up the sex appeal in every step he took, and even in his old age, Ethan Hawke is pretty dreamy when he’s grinning behind a gun.
Byung-hun was my personal favorite, giving the camera that smoldering glare every time he offs a smart-mouthed baddie. Haley Bennett’s hair is, of course, still perfectly curled as she shoots evil cowboys near the end of the film.
Of course, the original film was guilty of this as well, but it truly was laughable how gorgeous these people had stayed despite weeks in the wilderness. In a Western drama, I personally want grit and a little ugly mixed in; the only ugly in this film was the technical aspects.
The green screen was so painfully obvious in every shot, with little to no transition from the real set, or lack thereof. In the producer’s efforts to try and re-create the original film, he seemed to have adopted its iffy production quality as well.
The remake also had little to no trace of historical accuracy, with the costumes and set pieces looking like hand-me-downs from a theme park parade.
The race of Denzel Washington’s character goes completely unmentioned, which seems like a missed opportunity for the movie’s writers.
The film will definitely keep you in suspense if you can take it seriously enough through the weak script. You’ll catch yourself rooting for Jack Horne, the tracker played by the large screen presence Vincent D’Onofrio, despite his small role.
There are a few laughs to be had every now and then—sometimes intended, sometimes not—and there are definitely some moments of gun-slinging action to sink your teeth into.
Long story short—head to “The Magnificent Seven” if you have a short attention span, but just pop in the remake if you’re longing for the classic Western flavor of the original film.