1. What is it about?
In The Magnificent Seven, power-hungry robber baron Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard) and his henchmen terrorize innocent villagers in a poor farming town. Hoping to expand his grasp on the local mining operation, Bogue’s ruthless reign extends too far and forces a fed-up Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett) to seek help taking back her town. After an encounter with an impressive gunslinger named Chisolm (Denzel Washington), Emma hires him along with six other equally-impressive mercenaries (totaling a magnificent seven, kiddos) to seek righteousness, and when there is none to be had… revenge.
2. What is it rated and why?
The movie earns every bit of its PG-13 rating. Right at the start, viewers are presented with an intense scene of murder, which sets the tone as far as the level of violence is concerned. From ears being shot off to hatchets in the chest to countless (and I mean countless… I tried) deaths, this one is not for little kids. Add in some references to prostitutes and a decent amount of swearing, this one is definitely grittier than the original.
3. Speaking of the original movie, how does this remake compare?
Yes, in case you weren’t aware, The Magnificent Seven is yet another Hollywood remake, this one for the 1960 movie of the same name which starred cinematic titans Yul Brynner, Eli Wallach, Steve McQueen, and more (which itself is a kind of remake of Seven Samurai by legendary director Akira Kurosawa). There are definitely some basic differences in this one compared to the original. First off, none of the characters are the same, and secondly, the villagers aren’t Mexican farmers, but the film does loosely follow the same formula: seven dudes come together to kick butt.
I’m probably going to catch a lot of flack on this one, but I actually enjoyed this version better than the 1960 original. I had previously seen the classic years ago and enjoyed it and recognized it to be a significant film for its time. After watching the 2016 movie, I made a point to watch the original again to have a fresh comparison. Basically, what it boils down to is the original movie is over half a century old. So much has changed in fifty-six years that, as far as cinematic tastes are concerned, the old version just felt, well… old. Don’t get me wrong, Yul Brynner and his lot have their place in history and the original Magnificent Seven will always be held up as a shining example of a classic Western. That said, director Antoine Fuqua knows how to make his vision of The Magnificent Seven fresh, fun, and exciting.
In addition to the supremely improved special effects, cinematographer Mauro Fiore does a great job of bringing new life to an old style of storytelling. Unlike the original, I feel like each character is much more developed and robust beyond just being another hired gun. This one doesn’t have an unnecessary love story and the female lead can hold her own when times are tough. True, nobody asked for this update, but it is one I welcome.
4. Will I like it?
Yes. If you’re a fan of Westerns in general, then this will more than satisfy your appetite. You will find The Magnificent Seven to have all the stuff you’ve come to expect: duels, shootouts, barfights, epic horse-riding scenes, and more. Each of the seven warriors is a compelling character, but what else would you expect with such star power? Denzel is at peak Denzel and Chris Pratt plays Chris Pratt to a T, so if you like those actors you’re in luck. Most surprising (although, is it really?) is Vincent D’onofrio’s portrayal of Jack Horne, who steals every scene he’s in. This version may not win any awards, but I find it hard to believe you could walk away from this movie and not think it was time well spent.
5. Will the kids like it?
Older kids, yes. Like I mentioned earlier, the violence and tense situations could be stressful for younger viewers. That said, this movie is not only action-packed with plenty of rewarding payoffs it’s also pretty darn funny. Pratt and D’onofrio bring most of the laughs, but each character has a chance to bring some levity to what could have been a really depressing movie. Fuqua, the director of Olympus Has Fallen knows how to make an exciting action movie, and The Magnificent Seven has enough bangs and booms to keep fans of almost any age entertained.
6. Will I hear the familiar musical score?
Who can forget the classic Elmer Bernstein score from the original The Magnificent Seven? Even if it doesn’t immediately pop in your head reading this, you’ll definitely recognize it once you hear it again. The new version has a different score composed by the late James Horner who has composed countless modern masterpieces, and for whom this version is dedicated. The new music is tremendous, but don’t worry, if you stick around ’til the end, you’ll definitely hear the classic.
7. When is a good time for a restroom break, and is there anything after the credits?
You won’t want to leave the theater, and there really isn’t a portion of the movie that feels unnecessary. However, once the group of seven has all come together, they start training townspeople to fight, it’s probably safe to run to the restroom quickly without missing too much. After the film, unless you want to stick around to hear that classic music score mentioned above, you can book it as there isn’t any sort of tease or blooper.
Overall, I’m shocked this was a late September release and not a summer hit. We’ve all had bad experiences with remakes in the past, but this isn’t one of them. The Magnificent Seven would be a great starting point for your young teen to venture into other Western films like Tombstone, Unforgiven, and more. Go check it out!
I attended a free press screening for this film. All opinions are my own.