“The Magnificent Seven” is good enough to stand on its own”.

THE MAGNIFICANT SEVEN (2016) 4.5 Stars out of 5

Magnificent Seven Movie Poster

The elephant in the room seems to be the need for both film critics and movie audiences alike — to make the comparison between THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (2016) with THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (1960).

The same comparison can be made between the 1960 western film classic, with the original movie that it was adapted from — Akira Kurosawa’s SEVEN SAMURAI (1954). See if this sounds even a little bit similar: A poor village is under attack by bandits, and recruits seven unemployed samurai to help them defend themselves!

God bless this great Japanese filmmaker. Kurosawa, who even today is thought to be one of the most important and influential filmmakers in the history of cinema — wasn’t terribly impressed with the John Sturges directed 1960 film. “The American copy of The Magnificent Seven is a disappointment, although entertaining. It is not a version of Seven Samurai”. (Wikipedia).

In 1960, we had Yul Brynner, Eli Wallach, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, Robert Vaughn and James Coburn. What a cast.

In 2016, we have Denzel Washington. What film actor today would not love the opportunity to work together with him. Each actor is very good and holds their own. I write this both as playing individual characters; and together, as a group of misfits. The major cast includes Haley Bennett, Chris Pratt, Vincent D’Onofrio (absolutely unrecognizable), Peter Sarsgaard, Ethan Hawke, Lee Byung-hun, Martin Sensmeier, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Luke Grines and Matt Bomer.

Antoine Fuqua does a masterful job of directing what had to have been a very challenging movie to shape and oversee. Notd his 2001 film, TRAINING DAY, brought Denzel Washington his Best Actor Oscar; and Ethan Hawke — his Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination.

The script is credited to Nic Pizzolatto and Richard Wenk. Fuqua also always attracts some of the best production talent in the business. Five stars awarded for the extreme cinematography, razor sharp editing; amazing art direction; as well as the western set decoration and costume design.

A special note about this very special soundtrack. When you read the end film credits, note the names of Simon Franglen and James Horner who wrote the original music. Mr. Horner won two Academy Awards for TITANIC, and composed some of the most memorable music ever composed for the movies including FIELD OF DREAMS and BRAVEHEART. THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN is one of his finest achievements and I suspect an Oscar nomination will follow. He died a little more than a year ago in a plane crash.

I have absolutely no interest or desire in making any comparison to either of the two previous films. For you see, THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (1960) is a pretty good western drama that stands on its own merit. I so strongly believe that good movies are even better today because of the new sound, the IMAX screens and even the comfortable seats. As convenient as it is to watch a movie in your living room, den or bedroom — missing is the reaction and response of the audience is critical. So join me at the movies and listen for the laughter, the cheers and the applause — found only at your neighborhood theater.



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