Commentaries

Thursday, September 22, 2016

THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN

POLITICAL CORRECTNESS KILLS CLASSIC



Film Review by Fiore 


Reviewing a remake, if you never saw the original, is far easier than when you have.  The remake can be judged solely on its own merits and values.  When you are familiar with the original, comparisons are naturally made.  I am very familiar with The Magnificent Seven.  It is on my personal list of five top Westerns, and I’ve watched it numerous times.  So, to be fair (which admittedly is a rarity for me), let me first critique Director Antoine Fuqua’s remake of The Magnificent Seven before I compare and contrast.

Fuqua revels in Denzel Washington as his muse, and vice versa.  The two are like snacking on pepperoni and Fontanella cheese – can’t go wrong.  Back this winning combo up with quality stars like Chris Pratt, Vincent D’Onofrio, Ethan Hawke, and Peter Sarsgaard, throw them in the Old West facing impossible odds, and you’re set for a box office bonanza. 

Washington plays Sam Chisum.  It is a grand cowboy name.  Legend has it John Chisum was mentor and friend to Billy the Kid.  John Chisum was also played by John Wayne in the movie of the same name.  The moniker alone sets Washington’s character up as a tour de force for cowboy fare.  To help set the stage for those familiar with the original, Pratt takes the Steve McQueen role, Hawke is Robert Vaughn, Sarsgaard is Eli Wallach and D’Onofrio is Brad Dexter.  Added to the bunch are: Martin Sensmeier as Red Harvest, the token Indian; Manuel Garcia-Rulfo as Vasquez, who takes Charles Bronson’s role; and Byung-hun Lee, who personifies the part played by James Coburn. 

All the stars are in fine form, in fact, if anyone is downplaying it’s Washington.  As a cowboy, he is lacking the fire displayed in other collaborations with Fuqua.  Hawke and Pratt steal the show and dominate the screen time.

Cinematographer Mauro Fiore provides grand vistas and intense set shots.  The musical duo of Simon Franglen and James Horner create a solid score, which dances around Elmer Bernstein’s original, until finally giving way to it during the first part of the end credits.

The problems with The Magnificent Seven arise when revisionist history and the ever depressing Hollywood liberal agenda envelope the endeavor.  This is something Fuqua has never been able to distant himself from; serving as a ball and chain for his work, while endearing him to the H3L.

First,  the Old West was never this tolerant and multicultural.  Indians, Mexicans, Asians and Blacks ride into town as freely as they walk down Fifth Avenue today.  There is no overt racism or prejudice and when Denzel canters into town, no one yells: “The sheriff is near!”   

Then Fuqua succumbs to Tinseltown pressure and inserts the Woman Warrior Agenda into the movie.  A poor, lowly widow is the best shot in a town filled with farmers, is the only one in town sporting a pair of balls when standing up to the villain and has to play an integral part in the film’s conclusion.  I groaned audibly at these scenes.  While these elements make for a cute story, they are unrealistic and throw The Magnificent Seven from the Western to the Fantasy genre.

That said, without seeing the original Western version with Yul Brynner, The Magnificent Seven would rate a solid B.  Hollywood has done a fine job of indoctrination for the millennials and they would be unaware of these cultural faux pas. 

Compare and contrast.  Brace yourself.

The original had an aura of hopelessness.  The times were changing.  There was no need for the gunslinger.  Civilization was becoming progressive; so six gunslingers, realizing they are a dying breed with skills no longer needed, opt to take one last suicide mission because they have become totally useless in the current society.  Not in this version.  All seven are essentially mercenaries and head into town, not feeling like dinosaurs about to become extinct, but rather like Seal Team Six.

The original featured Eli Wallach as the antagonist.  He was a Mexican bandito who preyed on a local village to supply his militant army.  But, we simply can’t do that in today’s cinema!  Mexicans are a sacrosanct group.  Can’t show them as bad guys harming their own people; besides too many Americans want to open the borders and let them all in for more Democratic votes, so don’t want to insult anyone.  No, this antagonist is… wait for it… a greedy capitalist who wants to run people off their land and enslaves them to work in his gold mine so he can become a staunch member of the one percent.  Does this theme never get old to Hollywood libs?  At this juncture, The Magnificent Seven views more like Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven.

In the original, the script never delved into the crew’s backgrounds.  It was apparent they were familiar with one another, and each had their own personal reasons for tagging along, but it was Steve McQueen’s laconic verse: “It seemed like a good idea at the time” that explained their motivation.  In this version, it is revenge, pure and simple.  Denzel wants to even the ante for the rape and murder of his sister; and at this juncture, The Magnificent Seven bears more of a resemblance to Clint Eastwood’s For A Few Dollars More.

Finally, at the conclusion of the original, the seven assess their losses, feel pride for their accomplishment and chagrin they survived it, and ride off on their own paths seeking that one final challenge to end their warrior code.  In this one, they collect their money and go home.

KEY SCENES TO LOOK FOR:

1.      THE MAGIC TRICK
2.      THE FIRST VISIT TO THE TOWN
3.      THE END CREDITS WITH THE ORIGINAL THEME SONG



Westerns are fun, and certainly Hollywood does not produce enough of them.  Hell or High Water is currently enjoying critical and box office success as a modern day Western.  This is because the genre appeals to essential American values, and not progressive socialism.  Fuqua and the band have conjured up a rousing tale that is enjoyable to watch, but pales in comparison to the original.  Many will also argue the ‘original’ pales in comparison to the true original, The Seven Samurai, and they would have a valid point, but that is a discussion for film class.  

The point here is Fuqua has pieced together a decent cowboy movie for those with no foreknowledge of the Old West, history, or the Yul Brynner version of the film.  The agendas inserted in this version to appease the libtards, pull The Magnificent Seven down to the ranks of mediocrity.  Fuqua should know better.  He is making a movie, not producing CNN news.





THE GRADE FOR THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN = C

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