There’s no shying away from the fact that 2016 has been a year of bitter disappointment when it comes to the movies that we consider big blockbusters. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad failed to garner the reaction that the source characters ultimately deserve, Warcraft burst the Duncan Jones bubble and films such as X-Men: Apocalypse and The BFG proved that sometimes even the best source material can fail in being reproduced onto the big screen. Sadly though, it doesn’t look like it’s going to end just yet, with us audiences entering remake territory once again, following the recent release of (yet another) venture into Ben Hur territory. No matter what the people involved say, it will always be a remake, and not a ‘re-imagining.’
This time around, it’s Antoine Fuqua’s Magnificent Seven, looking to breathe new life into the 1970 remake of the classic Seven Samurai, that featured household names Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen as part of the septet riding into town and laying down the law. The 2016 Seven of the title consist of powerhouse stars Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt and Ethan Hawke, among others, but it poses the question: did we really need a remake of this classic in this day and age? Everyone has their own response to that very question but we’re here to give you a rundown of 15 reasons why we think this one is one of those Hollywood ideas that should go down like a lead balloon and leave us tasting the dirt under our boots instead of downing some fine whiskey shots in celebration.
15. Another Remake
Originality is such a funny subject to cover when it comes to the movies that we see week-in, week-out at the theatre. It’s one of those things that is never quite ever-present and certainly gives us a huge talking point in terms of the quality of movies and the content within them. For every movie that is original and touching there is one that appears to be a carbon copy of many others in its genre that we’ve seen in the past. Admittedly it’s something we just have to get used to, even if it is infuriating.
Case in point, Magnificent Seven, a movie that has been branded as a ‘re-imagining’, but yet we know exactly what we’re going to get as soon as those opening credits roll and the cowboys blaze onto the screen. Remakes are all too common: whether it be these days or in the past decade, they’ve been a regular entity and it’s an indicator that some studios and filmmakers are lacking that edge in creativity and flair. Here is another remake that nobody demanded and one that is likely to fall by the wayside because of that exact point.
14. A Dated Genre
When you talk about westerns it’s inevitable that people are going to talk about the heyday of John Wayne, the classic performances of Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen, and the groundbreaking success of Redford and Newman in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. But when was the last time you watched a notable film in the genre that made you think that this was a corner of cinema that needed re-introduction? The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and The Proposition certainly spring to mind immediately, but these are the needle in the haystack when it comes to the endless supply of these types of movies in the frame.
Ultimately, studios and filmmakers are not investing or making westerns because it is a classic genre from a specific era – one that is not of great popularity any more. True, The Artist gave us a wonderful return to the glory days of silent cinema but there wasn’t a resulting mass demand for more of the same and this can be applied to westerns.
13. Vincent D’Onofrio
As far as the cast of Magnificent Seven goes, there seems to be one entity that sticks out to us as being rather unorthodox and somewhat unsettling. Now, admittedly, Vincent D’Onofrio was menacing as hell throughout Daredevil’s first season as Wilson Fisk, cutting a dominating figure as the classic villain and selling the superb scripting he had been aided with, but besides that television performance we’ve rarely seen him shine on screen.
This is a guy whose Jurassic World character was obnoxious and two-dimensional, and his other recent performances have been nothing of considerable note (even if you are a big Law and Order fan). Add to the fact that his character looks to be the rather crazed, overweight brawler in the crew and it doesn’t particularly bode well for his chemistry and overall appearance alongside some much more likeable individuals.
12. Bloated Runtime
Now, if there’s one thing many of us can agree on it’s that, relatively speaking, audiences don’t take too kindly to movies that like to push the boundaries and provide a blockbuster experience beyond two hours. An average run time of 100 minutes seems to do the trick, so it serves as a warning to us that The Magnificent Seven is a whopping 133 minutes.
This, on the surface, seems a little worrying if truth be told, with a nervousness to whether the film is going to drag its heels somewhat of a question mark over the movie. Only time will tell, but it certainly doesn’t look like a movie that requires that much depth and needs to be that duration.
11. The Right Director?
There’s no denying that Antoine Fuqua is certainly an accomplished director. He’s brought to us films such as Training Day, Southpaw and even the acceptably entertaining Olympus Has Fallen, but is he really the right man for the job? We have our doubts.
Here is a man who tends to lean towards the grittier and edgier movies, driven by characters who have experienced dark events in their past, often lending to his movies’ overall tone. The Magnificent Seven looks to be one of those films that possesses a tone rather removed from those movies of Fuqua’s. This is a western where we can expect plenty gunslinging, quick-fire quips, and a certain light-hearted swagger about it, and that’s something we’re unsure Fuqua can bring to the table.
10. Character Development
When you have a team of seven individuals populating a movie’s title, you are going to expect enough character building to make each and every one of them an asset and not the majority of them left behind.
Immediately looking at the casting for the movie it appears that we may have a situation on our hands in terms of how the characters are handled. True, you are always going to have your leaders of the pack (Washington, Pratt and Hawke), but if your remaining folk aren’t treated with similar respect it can soon become a little difficult to back these guys.
The Magnificent Seven could well suffer this fate, with an expected focus on the main three and their development possibly becoming a hindrance for full backing from the audience.
9. The Chris Pratt Train
All aboard the train that has seen the Parks and Recreation breakout star cast, in massive corners on the internet community, as our next Indiana Jones. And, to be fair, Chris Pratt is a breath of fresh air for the big-hitting world of Hollywood – he possesses swagger, oozes humour and he’s a good-looking guy. But are we going to get overloaded too soon?
Take, for example, the advertising of Pratt for The Magnificent Seven. Is it us or is this simply Peter Quill dressed up in cowboy attire and shooting pistols instead of lasers? His character in Jurassic World was hardly a huge removal from what we’d seen from the Marvel movie either. Let’s hope we’re wrong but typecasting could already be happening.
8. The Chief Villain
Let’s just rewind for a moment and take a deep breath as the realization that Peter Sarsgaard was the chief villain in DC’s mega-bomb Green Lantern sinks in. There. How does that make you feel about his new role? Yeah, that’s what we thought.
Now that you’ve swallowed that bitter pill, prepare yourselves for the lesser impressive Sarsgaard family member to venture into another villainous role in which he’ll no doubt ham it up, prove to be a non-physical threat, and simply hide behind henchmen before the grand finale. It’s hardly inspiring is it?
7. Denzel’s Retirement Plan
Now in his sixties, it could be a fair assumption to say that Denzel Washington is beginning to think about winding it down when it comes to movies. With a filmography that the majority of actors can only dream of, Washington has become one of the top actors working today, but there comes a time in many careers where a simpler path is followed.
The likes of Nicolas Cage, Bruce Willis and Morgan Freeman appear satisfied with taking a road of lesser quality and big budget avoidance so could this be the beginning of Denzel’s retirement plan? With another remake of a well-known entity plus a sequel to one of them, this could spell darker days ahead for a Hollywood legend.
6. Early TIFF Reactions
If there’s a film festival in the yearly calendar that is a sure-footed sign of whether a film is going to hit the jackpot with audiences then it’s Toronto International Film Festival. This year has certainly once again conjured up some incredible movies set to dominate awards season and wow audiences, but The Magnificent Seven is certainly one that fell far short of such praise.
In fact, the film that opened this year’s TIFF has been described in many areas of the critics circle as simply ‘not so magnificent’ and ‘nothing we haven’t seen already.’ Doesn’t particularly bode well for the film once it is finally released.
5. The Writing Team
While it’s hard to discount the writing credentials of Nic Pizzolatto, given the strength in his work on hit HBO show True Detective, the second half of the screenwriting duo for The Magnificent Seven may be cause for concern.
Richard Wenk may be versed in the industry, but when it comes to movies he’s been involved with then there may be a few raised eyebrows. Having previously failed to muster up a successful directorial career – his biggest movie being 2002’s Wishcraft – Richard Wenk went on to write screenplays for the likes of 16 Blocks, The Mechanic and The Expendables 2.
Remember those movies well and remember them for their strong screenplays? Neither do we…
4. Missed Casting Opportunities
For a film packed with a variety of races and nationalities, it’s fair to say that The Magnificent Seven could have certainly conjured up a very different group of ragtag individuals. And that was very much the case, with a handful of possible missed opportunities fallen by the wayside.
Narcos’ leading man Wagner Moura was originally set to play Vasquez until his commitment to the Netflix-exclusive show surfaced, and even Christian Bale and Jason Momoa were approached to be part of the Seven. We smell some missed opportunities there guys…
3. Style Over Substance
As is often the case with action-based movies, we can regularly find them following suit in creating something that is simply stylized to the high heavens and doesn’t quite pack the necessary ingredients substance-wise. In other words, movies that blow a lot of sh*t up and go for cheap laughs, expensive special effects and minimal plot or character development.
The Magnificent Seven certainly looks like a movie that could fall under that category. If the trailers are to be believed, this is a movie that will be packed with high-octane, explosive action sequences in favour of establishment of its core characters. Let’s hope that isn’t the case come its cinematic release.
2. An Unoriginal Blockbuster
Originality is something that is often argued for and against in terms of film making and the state of the movie industry today. With a plethora of sequels and remakes/reboots making the yearly movie calendar, it definitely isn’t unfair to say that it can feel very frustrating that there aren’t enough original films out there.
Antoine Fuqua is now onto his second remake and that doesn’t particularly fill one with massive confidence given that this is a director who has, in the past, forged some very cutting and entertaining movies. The Magnificent Seven feels like another unoriginal and unnecessary remake that few of us have asked for.
1. PG-13 Rating
Let’s be honest, with a movie based in the Wild West featuring copious gunslingers, a town ravaged by a despicable outlaw and his gang, and some rather formidable characters, we’d hardly expect it to garner a PG-13 rating.
That means we’ll see hardly any blood, probably restrained violence, and everything else toned down to culminate in one western encounter that may not feel as authentic as it would with a slightly more mature certification. This is just another factor that could lend to the downfall of this movie, we’re afraid.