HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: The Magnificent Seven
HTS Overall Score:97
Westerns have always been a personal favorite genre for this reviewer. I grew up watching John Wayne, Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef tearing up the old west, so you can be certain that I was more than a little bit disappointed with the way the film genre faded from popularity. Pretty much the ONLY westerns being made for many years were direct to video schlock that starred no names or washed up old stars like Christian Slater. However, thanks to some of the biggest names in Hollywood like Quentin Tarantino and the Coen Brothers we’ve seen a new resurgence as of late (although they sadly don’t do as well at the box office in comparison to the glory days). “Hell or High Water” was my favorite western of the year for the intelligence and feel of a modern western, but “The Magnificent Seven” is probably the best home video experience I’ve had for months, and certainly the best traditional western in several years (“The Hateful Eight” was good, but not great).
Antoine Fuqua has been hitting it out of the park with his revival films lately. I’ve always loved the director’s films, ranging from “The Replacement Killers” to goofier films like “Olympus has Fallen” or “Shooter”, but he really made an impression on me when he re did “The Equalizer” into a classic 90s action film set in modern days. I really enjoyed that ability of his to bring us back to the glory days of action movies where the fights were brutal, you could actually SEE what was going on (shaky cam and super quick cuts are the bane of action films) and starring truly TOUGH guys. As you probably well know, “The Magnificent Seven” is a remake of John Sturges’ classic western of the same name starring Yule Brenner. With remakes being so common, and so cruddy, these days I was a little bit nervous, but was willing to give Fuqua the benefit of the doubt due to his recent success with “Southpaw” and “The Equalizer”. Ironically “The Magnificent Seven” was originally a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s “The Seven Samurai”. A film that has inspired and been copied many times over during the last 60 years. The 2016 remakes actually does an amazing job at showing honor and respect to the classic western it was copied from as well as Kurosawa’s original work, leaving me VERY VERY impressed.
The dusty town of Rose Creek is under attack from your typical western villain. A rich mining land owner named Bogue (Peter Saarsgard), who wants to steal all of Rose Creeks land for pennies on the dollar and mine the snot out of the surrounding area. Being that he’s a bit of an egotist and maniac, Bogue is more than willing to run over and kill anyone who gets in his way. After the town is shown a “lesson” due to their willingness to stand up for themselves, widowed Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett” reaches out to a wandering peace officer by the name of Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington). A man who can handle himself with a gun and carries a burden of pain on his shoulders. Refusing to let Chisolm go after his careless dismissal of their desires, Emma begs for his help and appeals to the man’s love of coin. Well, every man has his price, and Sam has his. Now it’s time to gather a few bad bad men together to fend off the invading horde.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=87058[/img]Soon 1 becomes 2, and 2 becomes seven as Chisolm brings together a ragtag group of seven men including a smooth talking gambler named Faraday (Chris Pratt), a confederate sharp shooter named Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke) and his Asian partner Billy Rocks (Byung-hun Lee), a wandering Comanche Indian, a Mexican killer (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), and a giant bear of a mountain man named Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio). The seven compadres now have to whip the town into shape and build a fighting force that will be able to repel the hordes of men that Bogue will be throwing their way.
The plot is fairly simply, but that’s a boon to the movie. It’s your classic western at heart. A big bad land owner trying to take the livelihood of innocent townsfolk, and it’s up to a group of tough, but kindhearted, wanderers to save the day. We’ve seen it a million times in the past, and it just WORKS. Clint Eastwood has done it, John Wayne has done it, Kurosawa made it famous, and the classic genre tricks work just as well today as they did yesterday. Fuqua has really knocked it out of the park here though, as everyone just meshes perfectly on screen. Denzel and Ethan have been pulled over form Fuqua’s previous films and the chemistry between the director and his regular actors is concise and very comfortable feeling. However I was really surprised about the rest of the cast. Vincent D’Onofrio was one I really had reservations about above all, but he turned out to be one of the best characters in the movie. His crazy, but powerful persona makes for a loveable (but very scary) giant, and the squeaky accent he puts on really fits the role. Byung-hun Lee was great as the high flying and knife wielding side kick to Ethan Hawke’s character, and Chris Pratt really allowed himself to be toned down a bit for the role of Faraday. He still adds the humor and smart-alec charm that he’s known for, but it was not as over the top as I was worried about.
Fuqua manages to hit all of the right beats for “The Magnificent Seven”. Big mustache twirling super barons, innocent townsfolk who just need saving, and fantastic heroes that work well together on screen. The language, the choreography and even the filming style work together harmoniously to create a wonderfully exciting film. Fuqua made the mart decision to not only film on 35mm film instead of digital, but made a very specific point of using practical effects and real stunt men instead of CGI trickery. The results are naturally more natural and realistic than I could have hoped for. Something which adds to the authenticity of the western genre in more than a little way.
Rated PG-13 for extended and intense sequences of Western violence, and for historical smoking, some language and suggestive material
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=87066[/img]Shot on 35mm film and given a 2K DI master, “The Magnificent Seven” looks….shall I say it?....simply MAGNIFICENT on Blu-ray. The choice to shoot on ACTUAL film stock gives the movie a very authentic western vibe and the resulting textural tone and feel is deliciously nostalgic and naturally beautiful. There is a light honey colored grading that gives the experience a dusty and dirty atmosphere, but the fine detail is nothing short of perfect. You can see the soft hairs on Denzel’s beard, or the cracking of the leather gun belts that Chris Pratt has wrapped around the middle. Long shots are simply gorgeous, with rolling green hills in the background and dusty arroyos and beaten trails as the 7 men make their way back to the dusty town of Rose Creek. Black levels are incredibly deep and inky, and show ZERO signs of artifacting or banding in the deep shadows of town. Simply put, this is an impeccable transfer by Sony and one of the better looking recent live action Blu-rays I’ve seen in months (most of my 5/5 pictures are given to animated films I’ve noticed).
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=87074[/img]The 7.1 DTS-HD MA audio track is no slouch either. Matching the video encodes perfection blow for blow in terms of quality. Sadly it is also a victim of Sony digging in their heels and refusing to put the Atoms track that is available on the 4K UltraHD version with the Blu-ray (most likely in an effort to entice consumers to upgrade to the 4K experience if they want the superior audio track). It’s a sad thing, but at least we’ve given a 7.1 DTS-HD MA track instead of the usual 5.1 mixes that Sony has been relegating to the Blu-rays recently. Still, it is one great Lossless audio mix. Superbly encoded the track is vibrant, aggressive, quiet and laid back depending on the necessity. Dialog centric scenes are well nuanced with creaking chairs and squeaky saloon doors, then suddenly punctuated by the harsh sound of colt peacemakers barking at command, or the roar of horse’s hooves thudding over the country plains. LFE is tight and constrained, but impactful and impressively detailed. It isn’t one of those audio mixes where everything sounds overly bassy, but very punchy and can be viciously aggressive when called upon. Gunshots carry significant weight and the aforementioned horses hooves will make your pants vibrate when Bogue and his men come thundering over to Rose Creek.
• Vengeance Mode: Director Antoine Fuqua and cast break down key scenes and discuss the making of the film
• Deleted Scenes
• The Taking of Rose Creek
• Magnificent Music
• Directing the Seven
• The Seven
• Rogue Bogue
I’m simply beside myself with joy to see so many excellent western’s returning to the big screen. Westerns have been declared dead for several decades (even more since the heydays of the 50s and 60s), but there has been a slow but steady resurgence of quality Westerns. Antoine Fuqua has done an amazing job with revitalizing multiple genres, and “The Magnificent Seven” does a fantastic job at showing a great deal of respect for the original (and its predecessor, “The Seven Samurai”), while allowing the 2016 remake to shine in its own right. Easily one of my favorite home video experiences, Sony’s disc features great extras, perfect picture and audio and combined with one of the best traditional western’s I’ve seen since “True Grit”, it makes for once enticing package. I don’t care whether you like westerns, or just good movies, but “The Magnificent Seven” is definitely a must buy.
Starring: Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke, Chris Pratt
Directed by: Antoine Fuqua
Written by: Richard Wenk, Nic Pizzolatto, Akira Kurosawa (Original Screenplay)
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 7.1, English Descriptive Services, Spanish DD 5.1
Runtime: 133 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: December 20th, 2016
Buy The Magnificent Seven on 4K Blu-ray at Amazon
Buy The Magnificent Seven on Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Must Buy
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