Sunday, September 25, 2016

Theatrical Review: The Magnificiant Seven

Date: Sunday September 25, 2016
Location: Pocono Movieplex
Time: 12:30pm
Party: 2 (my mom & I)

Director: Antoine Fuqua
Based on Akira Kurosawa's "Seven Samurai"

The Seven
Sam Chisolm- Denzel Washington
Josh Faraday- Chris Pratt
Vasquez- Manuel Garcia-Rulfo
Goodnight Robicheaux- Ethan Hawke
Billy Rocks- Byun-hun Lee
Jack Horn- Vincent D'Onofrio
Red Harvest- Martin Sensmeier
The Farmers
Matthew Cullen- Matt Bomer
Emma Cullen- Haley Bennett
Teddy Q- Luke Grimes
The Villain
Bartholomew Bogue- Peter Sarsgaard
McCann- Cam Gigandet
One Eyed Lucas- Jackson Beals

Duration: 132 minutes (+3 previews)

Opening Remarks
Easily one of the best audiences I'd been in for a long time. We got in kinda late (not so late that we missed previews, however) so it was too dark to see who was there. Just enough light to find seats.
But it was lively. Lots of laughs, oohing and aahing during the gun fights.

Why this movie got bad reviews, I have no idea. I mean, it wasn't a masterpiece, but it wasn't terrible. It was a fine callback to old westerns with some current big names.
And seriously, people these days want more diversity in movies yet when they get it, they complain... I just don't get it.
I'd never seen the original "Seven Samurai," but one day, I hope I get that chance. If not on YouTube, then hopefully TCM will compensate me one of these days.
When I was younger, "A Bug's Life" was one of my favorite movies and I found out later on that was a version of this story.

But I know something about the original story thanks to my college animé club. Now that I think about... I think the story I'm about to relay took place 10 years ago almost to this day.

(after checking a calendar)

I believe our first meeting was September 27, 2006. And my first series ever (not counting Pokémon, Sailor Moon, Yu-Gi-Oh or CardCaptors- which some die-hards don't consider true animé series, but kiddie versions. Although the 4Kids English dubbing might have contributed... ok, moving on)...

Image result for samurai 7
My first ever series at the club was "Samurai 7." It's about these farmers whose land is taken over by bandits. In this version, they were robotic and mechanical. So a small party consisting of the village high priestess, her younger sister and a farmer goes into town to hire an army of samurai to defeat the bandits so they can have their village back.
Along the way, we meet these remarkable men who agree to fight for payments of rice. All with their unique personalities and contribute something different to help the overall cause.

The series only lasts 24 half-hour episodes, so it isn't a massive undertaking. I'd highly recommend it.


There were three. None of which were movies I really want to see.

Although with "Arrival" starring Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner, it's hard to say 100% no to it. Maybe not in the theater, but in the future when it arrives on network television. It looks like a modern take on "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." But since I hadn't seen that movie, I can't be 100% sure of that.

"Incarnate" stars Aaron Eckhart as this man who gets inside the heads of possession victims and helps them break Satan's hold on them. I don't know what a better movie would be to air this trailer at, but I sure didn't appreciate it. Those kind of movies freak me out and really shouldn't have been attempted after "The Exorcist" succeeded over 40 years ago.

"Kong: Skull Island"- I saw Tom Hiddleston and I immediately got a feeling that I knew what movie this would be before it got 10 seconds in. Somehow, in the back of my mind, I retained that fact and the fact that Universal Studios is putting together a new attraction with this same title.
My question: they already remade King Kong 10 years ago with Peter Jackson. Why do they need to do another one? Unless they're leading up to another King Kong vs. Godzilla movie, I don't really see the point.

But then again, I didn't grow up on these movies like some people in the previous generations.

The Main Event
The movie is very nicely split into three parts. Four if you include the prologue.
The prologue sets up how Bartholomew Bogue came to take over this particular town. We meet some characters that become important later on (namely, Haley Bennett's character, Emma Cullen) and the audience is set up to HATE the villain.

Part 1: we get to meet and know our seven outlaws. Emma and one of the other townfolk, Teddy, approach Sam Chisolm, an ex-outlaw turned bounty hunter to help them build an army to defend the town and take it back from the bad guys.
One by one, we meet the outlaws. Some are developed more than others, but everyone is free to judge them for themselves and find favorites.

Of course, Chris Pratt was a huge reason I wanted to see the movie in addition to knowing/loving the story of it. He'd been riding high (pun absolutely intended) in the box office between Guardians of the Galaxy and Jurassic World. His character isn't nearly as stupid as he looks (like his Guardian's character, Peter Quill/Star-Lord), but not surprisingly draws the most laughs of anyone in the movie.

Another of my favorites was Billy Rocks. He was part of a package deal with the legendary Goodnight Robicheaux and his specialty is knives. He is some kind of bad-ass and a good-looking one at that.

Red Harvest, an outcast Native American, also has some cool moments.

And Jack Horn got some good laughs as well. Vincent D'Onofrio, it feels like, has been everywhere since I saw him in "The Judge" and this is somewhat different than the past two times I've seen him. And it's kind of a nice change of pace.

Certain outlaws reminded me of certain samurai from that series.
Sam Chisolm is obviously Kambei, the strong, solemn leader of the group.
Jack Horn is like Kikuchiyo, who is a large mechanical samurai that's a klutz and the comic relief of the series.
And Red Harvest is like Kyuzo, although with a slightly different backstory. They're both men of few words that favor a bow and arrow. But Kyuzo originally started as an antagonist- a samurai employed as the bodyguard of the city's royal family (that's another side-story entirely and it doesn't carry enough relevance to this movie for me to dive into it too far).

Other than that, I don't see any other distinct similarities worth bringing up.

Part two is them getting to the town and making preparations for battle. This includes a montage or two good for a few laughs. Particularly when trying to teach the townsfolk how to shoot or handle knives (the latter was one of my favorite moments).
The movie slows down a little bit at this point, but that's made better with the comic relief moments as well as some back and forth between the town and what's going in the enemy's camp in Sacramento.

Part three is our big battle scene where anything and everything can happen. Lots of excitement, some heartbreak, but some pretty awesome conclusions to all this.

Emma Cullen also has a great moment towards the end that makes it all worthwhile. She's every bit as bad-ass as the high priestess Kirara in the animé, but she gets to do some actual fighting. Which is nice. #GirlPower

What can I say? I had fun with this one. Other than some pacing issues and running a tiny bit long in places... just don't listen to the critics on this one. Especially if you like Chris Pratt or Denzel being awesome ;)

Grade: A-

No comments: