The Magnificent Seven – Film Review

The greatest moments of “The Magnificent Seven” aren’t the scenes where all the magnificent’s are sitting around, talking about their magnificent adventures. Movies should show, not tell, and I agree. But if you aren’t willing to show a characters journey, their past, their present state in the world, then you’ve got to try to tell us a little bit about them.

Cowboys talk in gravely, deep-voiced mumbles, I understand. But not all of them. Josh Faraday, the alcoholic magician played by Chris Pratt (or is it just Chris Pratt played by Chris Pratt?), has a lot to say. The quiet one, Chisolm, played by Denzel Washington, talks and acts as if he were living in an entirely different cinematic universe, a slow-burn, darkly-lit drama photographed by Roger Deakins.

the-magnificent-seven-header-2-700x300

Luckily for Chisolm, he isn’t required to interact a whole lot with this ensemble, other than the obligatory assembling and introductions of the squad. We’ve got 7 here? One, two, three…I count six. Never mind, the seventh is standing over there, as Pratt’s character says in the beginning of the film, “Oh, good, we’ve got a Mexican!”

On-screen diversity is a hot topic in Hollywood and they’ve responded, if not in any dramatic way. They’re learning that people don’t just want diverse characters, they want actual characters. You know, a person with a motive other than revenge or a skill unrelated to their culture.

leebyunghun_091216_02

The Chinese cowboy, Billy Rocks, played by Lee Byung-hun, is very skilled at throwing all sorts of sharp, metallic weapons, even his own hair-pin. It’s typical to cast a Chinese man as the prototypical knife-thrower (with a twist, albeit), but at least his stereotype isn’t dull. Billy actually rocks. He’s a quiet character but arguably the most entertaining of them all.

The second most engaging character arc would have to be Ethan Hawke as Goodnight Robicheaux, a PTSD-ridden sharpshooter who uses Billy as a circus entertainer for the locals, splitting the dividends between them. Their relationship seems very complex: Billy feels bad for Goodnight’s war-torn suffering, while Goodnight takes advantage of a foreign mans abilities for his own gain.

The film doesn’t come close to replecating the greatness of the original film, or even close to The Seven Samurai, Kurosawa’s original telling of the tale. But beyond the sketchy, loosely-plotted characters, there is a thirty-minute plus action sequence that’s very entertaining. If anything, you can be assured that director Antoine Fuqua hasn’t lost his interest or his touch in direction large scale, dynamite-driven action sequences.

Advertisements

Sucker Punch: To Zach Snyder’s career

4/10

Zac Snyder’s new geek-aimed film, Sucker Punch, first released with the motto that it was “for woman’s rights”. Well, it lost everyone elses in the process, including the girls, through exploitation and depictions of innocent stupidity. However true, it is nowhere near a plus for woman’s rights. The film evokes a feeling of a silent movie, where the prospect of said films sounds riveting, with action progressing through pounding soundtracks in a synthetic, natural linearity. However, this is not the case here; Snyder has tried to copy and paste the feel of a graphic novel onto the screen with terrible dialogue and an uninvolved plot.

The plot surrounds a girl in a psych-unit, who escapes the dreary world through unexplained dreams of epic-fighting and Japanese like dodging. The movie feels like a long music video for a dubstep song, with never ending swirls of noirish imagery and girls’ hips. Blue Jones, played by Oscar Isaac, is a pimp for the backstage girls; he releases his angers through pretensious directing, like wincing with his eyes closed before putting his head up to make his frustrated point. He has a thin-mustache and tries to act seductive, which nastiness would be right for the character, but the actor doesn’t play the role to good effect. The girls are depicted as far too innocent and indecisive; they are in a psyche unit, I would image they would be a little more on the fringe.

As the director of Watchmen, some say he ruined a masterpiece. He no doubt has a knack for wild special effects, but what he does with them is what makes his reputation drown. Sucker Punch stars  Emily Browning as Babydoll, sent to an old fashioned psychiatric unit by her father; the whole institution is filled with prostitutes;the costumer designer definitely makes them look like one, but doesn’t draw the line for who isn’t, maybe everyone; a great thing to look at for a couple hours, no doubt, but once again, Woman’s rights?

The film is redundantly paced and childishly made, featuring Nazi zombies and ninja skirt-wearing ninja girls. The effects become tiring in the noirish swirls of uninspired terror and fear, and even the girl’s pottiness gets tiring,  the actresses effortlessly sad that their director didn’t supply them with a more justified reason to be balling their eyes out. Sucker Punch drags and brings nothing new but an army of red-eyed nazi zombies, a big misfire for effects-director Zac Snyder.