Antoine Fuqua’s remake of John Sturges’ The Magnificent Seven (itself a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai) may not be the instant classic it wants to be, but it’s still an effective, entertaining, and well-made film. Denzel Washington leads the ensemble cast, which includes Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, and Peter Sarsgaard.
The Production: 4/5
When industrialist Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard) takes control of Rose Creek, threatening more violence if the townspeople refuse to sell their land to him, widow Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett) and friend Teddy Q (Luke Grimes) seek assistance from Sam Chisholm (Denzel Washington), a marshal for hire that is serving warrants on wanted criminals. At first, Chisholm dismisses Emma, but changes his mind when he learns that the oppressor is Bogue and that the townspeople are offering up “everything they own” to save their lives and town. Chisholm quickly enlists gunslinger and gambler Josh Faraday (Chris Pratt). They then split up, Faraday and Teddy to find Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawe) and his “sidekick” Billy Rocks (Byung-hun Lee), while Chisholm and Emma track down wanted outlaw Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo). The team reunites to invite Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio) to their team, and add ostracized Comanche Indian Red Harvest as they travel to Rose Creek. Upon their arrival in town, Chisholm and his band take control of the town, allowing the Sheriff to escape and deliver a message to Bogue to leave the town alone. Bogue, of course, is intimidated by all of this, assembles an army and gets ready to attack Rose Creek without mercy. Chisholm, Faraday, and Goodnight quickly try to train the townspeople how to fight before Bogue arrives, leading to an exciting and extended shootout.
I tend to cringe whenever a filmmaker decides to remake a classic, and that is exactly what I did when I first saw trailers for Antoine Fuqua’s The Magnificent Seven, and avoided the film during its theatrical release. I’m happy to say I was very wrong. This remake, while not quite at the same level as its predecessors (1960’s The Magnificent Seven directed by John Sturges and 1954’s Seven Samurai from Akira Kurosawa), is effective and very entertaining. Denzel Washington is commanding as the leader, Chisholm, who harbors a secret as to why he ultimately choose this mission. Chris Pratt provides much of the comic relief as Faraday, with some help from Vincent D’Onofrio’s mountain man Jack Horne. Ethan Hawke is also quite good as Goodnight, a man that is harboring fears from the Civil War deep down within him. Peter Sarsgaard (an actor who always seems to easily creep me out) is quite conniving and menacing as the villainous Bogue. Director Antoine Fuqua knows his source material, from the set design to the action sequences, keeping the film authentic and entertaining throughout. The film also contains the last score composed by James Horner, who had written several themes for the film based on the screenplay shortly before his death last year, with frequent Horner collaborator Simon Franglen completing the score.
3D Rating: NA
The Magnificent Seven was shot on 35mm film and completed as a 2K digital intermediate. Sony continues to amaze with this upconverted 4K UHD with HDR transfer. The beautiful cinematography by Mauro Fiore (The Island, Avatar) is well-serviced in this upgrade, with more vibrant and natural colors, sharper detail (without appearing enhanced), and deeper blacks than the already excellent 1080p Blu-ray. Film grain has also been retained, but never becomes what some may consider a nuisance.
Audio on the 4K UHD disc has also been upgraded to Dolby Atmos (with a TrueHD 7.1 core) from DTS-HD MA 7.1 on the 1080p Blu-ray. This is a much more immersive track, even when played back on non-Atmos equipment with speakers in a 5.1 configuration with additional front heights and Pro-Logic IIz enabled. The classic score, with samplings of Elmer Bernstein’s theme from the 1960 version, not only surrounds you front to back, but is also mixed very subtly into the height channels. The gunfights benefit the most, with gunshots coming from all directions. Dialogue is never lost in the mix, always coming across clear and understandable.
Special Features: 4/5
All of the special features can be found on the included Blu-ray disc.
The Magnificent Seven: Vengeance Mode (1080p; 2:53:07): Viewers can watch the movie, which will occasionally cut away to interviews, behind the scenes footage, etc. that tie-in top that particular scene. This is a must-see for fans of the film, as it delivers a much more detailed look at the making of the film than what is provided in the included featurettes.
Deleted Scenes (1080p; 7:29): Viewable individually or as a whole – Breakfast Prayer, What Are You Gonna Do About It?, Bravery and Responsibility, and Goodnight Serenade.
The Seven (1080p; 8:36): As the title implies, a very brief look at each member of The Magnificent Seven.
Directing the Seven (1080p; 5:03): The cast discuss working with director Fuqua, who also talks about working with the cast.
The Taking of Rose Creek (1080p; 5:16): A look at how the scene where the seven first arrive in town was filmed.
Rogue Bogue (1080p; 5:26): A look at the character of Bogue, featuring interviews with members of the cast and crew.
Gunslingers (1080p; 4:55): A look at the stunts and prop weapons used in the film, as well as the training the actors had to learn how to use them.
Magnificent Music (1080p; 4:10): My favorite featurette on the disc looks at the music for the film and the late James Horner’s contribution to it.
Digital HD Copy: An insert contains a code to redeem a digital copy through Ultraviolet partners. If redeemed through Sonypictures.com, users get access to a streaming UHD version of the film on Sony 4K UHD televisions.
Coming in with low expectations, The Magnificent Seven took me by surprise. Not surprising are the high marks for Video and Audio, and the “Vengeance Mode” is a nice feature for those looking for more documentation on the making of the film.