Review of the week
Film: The Magnificent 7
Cast: Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Peter Sarsgaard, Vincent D’Onofrio, Byung-hun Lee, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Martin Sensmeier.
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Classification: 16 V
Reviewer: Peter Feldman
In an age of incessant remakes, it comes as no surprise to see that the Western classic, ‘The Magnificent 7’, has had a make-over with renowned Mexican director Antoine Fuqua at the helm.
The original 1960 version was a gem. It featured such screen giants as Yul Brynner, Charles Bronson, Steve McQueen and Eli Wallach, as the evil villain, and I recall rooting for them to slay all the bad guys. It was fresh and new and one became immersed in the story. One left the cinema in the knowledge that justice had been served.
Fuqua, with directorial credits such as the award-winning ‘Training Day’, ‘Replacement Killers’, ‘Brooklyn’s Finest’ and ‘Olympus Has Fallen’, returns 56 years after the original with a rebooted version. While not fresh and with a story that is wholly predictable, it still manages to deliver the goods. It serves up a fresh crop of screen names, and unleashes awesome fire power that completely dominates the latter part of this lengthy exercise in retribution.
Like the recent release of ‘Ben-Hur’, one must still question whether a remake is really necessary. All it demonstrates is that Hollywood is creatively bankrupt and finds solace (and money) in resurrecting successful projects, hoping it will engage with a new generation.
At the heart of the original – a beloved and indelible classic – was the camaraderie created by the macho gunslingers who learn to work together and then get to shoot up a town.
The camaraderie aspect in the new version is not fully realised and some of the characters do not leave much of an impression.
However, the film stands or falls on its orchestrated action sequences, which form the crux of the entire enterprise, and Fuqua certainly knows how to put this across – an incessant barrage of men, horse flesh and weaponry in full cry.
The man in black is Denzel Washington, as bounty hunter Sam Chisolm, who gathers around him a mean bunch of gunslingers to defend a small Western outpost of Rose Creek with gold deep down in its soil.
It’s the lure of the gold that turns a greedy industrialist named Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard) into a crazy man. When the good folk refuse to sell for a pittance, he shoots them and then for good measure burns down their church.
While Eli Wallach boasted a silky menace, Sarsgaard simply looks peeved throughout. He is a corporate weakling protected by a wall of henchmen – and needs to be taken down.
Enter Sam Chisholm, who learns that Bogue has given the town folk three weeks before he grabs their land – and, being up for the money, agrees to help them fight back.
In a time of PC, the gunslingers are of a multi-cultural hue: Josh Faraday (Chris Pratt), is a hard-drinking, reckless charmer who uses card tricks to distract his enemies into letting him shoot them; Ethan Hawk is the bearded Goodnight Robicheaux, a haunted former Confederate soldier with no personality who has an Asian road-show partner, Billy Rocks (Byung-hun Lee), a wizard with a pen-knife and any other sharp blades; Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), a “Texican” with a mean streak; while Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier) is a Comanche in war paint that he changes as circumstances dictate. The rotund Vincent D’Onofrio plays the grizzled religious nut, Jack Horne, adorned with skins and a long furry animal-tail cap.
There are no twists to the story and no surprises – it’s just business as usual.
Other releases (synopsis)
FILM: BLAIR WITCH
CAST: Brandon Scott, Callie Hernandez, Valorie Curry
Director: Adam Wingard
It’s been 20 years since James’s sister and her two friends vanished into the Black Hills Forest in Maryland while researching the legend of the Blair Witch, leaving a trail of theories and suspicions in their wake. James (James Allen McCune of TV’s ‘Shameless’) and his friends Peter (‘Wreck-It Ralph’s’ Brandon Scott), Ashley (Corbin Reid of TV’s ‘Disney Star Darlings’) and film student Lisa (Callie Hernandez of upcoming ‘La La Land’ and Ridley Scott’s upcoming ‘Alien: Covenant’) venture into the same woods each with a camera to uncover the mysteries surrounding their disappearance.
At first the group is hopeful, especially when a pair of locals Lane (Wes Robinson of TV’s ‘State Of Affairs’) and Talia (Valorie Curry of TV’s ‘The Following’) offer to act as guides through the dark and winding woods. But as the endless night wears on, the group is visited by a menacing presence.
Slowly, they begin to realize the legend is all too real and more sinister than they could have imagined.
FILM: ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS
CAST: Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley, Julia Sawalha, Jane Horrocks, June Whitfield, Chris Colfer, Kate Moss, Lulu, Emma Bunton, Robert Webb, Barry Humphries, Indeyarna Donaldson-Holness, Helen Lederer, Harriet Thorpe, Celia Imrie
DIRECTOR: Mandie Fletcher
Appropriate for their big screen debut, Edina Monsoon and Patsy Stone (Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley) are still oozing glitz and glamour, living the high life they are accustomed to; shopping, drinking and clubbing their way around London’s trendiest hotspots. But when they accidentally push Kate Moss into the river Thames at an uber fashionable launch party, Eddy and Patsy become entangled in a media storm surrounding the supermodel’s untimely demise and are relentlessly pursued by the paparazzi.
Fleeing penniless to the glamorous playground of the super-rich, the French Riviera, they hatch a plan to make their escape permanent and live the high life forever more.
The comedy was directed by Mandie Fletcher from an original screenplay by Jennifer Saunders, based on her hit television sitcom of the same name.