Review: 'The Magnificent Seven' Is a Poor Remake

Samuel Kaufman ’19 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Seven Samurai was a masterpiece, most people can agree on that, and it is easy to see why it was later made into the 1960 film The Magnificent Seven. What’s harder to see is why The Magnificent Seven was remade. It is often said that the only good reason to remake a film is if the original could be improved upon, but the original Magnificent Seven left very little room for improvement. The new film directed by Antoine Fuqua strays from the original enough to call it its own film, but doesn’t seem to add any value to this overdone story.
The Magnificent Seven (2016) forces audiences to ask the question: why did they remake this? It has so little to offer and adds almost nothing to the original. Yes, this one is a little more socially acceptable, as it features a more diverse cast, when the original was lacking in this department, but is that really enough to deserve 2 hours and 16 minutes of screen time? Probably not. An audience deserves more than just slightly less racism, they deserve a complex story with interesting characters, and The Magnificent Seven (2016) definitely does not provide. While the original was a product of its time, and thus somewhat objectionable to modern sensibilities, it is this reviewer’s opinion that movies should be watched in the context of their times, and thus these problems with the 1960 version are largely ignorable. What cannot be swept away as a product of the times is lazy storytelling, poor character development, and a predictable plot, all of which are featured prominently in the 2016 version of the film.

Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt in The Magnificent Seven (2016). Photo Credit: Sony Pictures Releasing.
Perhaps one of the biggest problems with The Magnificent Seven (2016) is the director’s inability to notice talent when it hits him in the face. Haley Bennett, has one job the whole movie, be the token female character. Sure she gets to shoot a gun from time to time, but who hasn’t seen that by now? If the goal of this movie was be less sexist, maybe they should have given their sole woman a little more to do. Additionally, many of the non-white characters peppered in to promote diversity have little to do and lean heavily on racial stereotypes. You will care about the silent-but-deadly Asian knife-wielding sidekick to a white character almost as little as you will care about the stoic and brutal Native American character whose only job is to fight his evil Native American equivalent in one scene. The only real sympathetic character is Chris Pratt, stretching his range here by playing a joke-cracking, sexy badass with a bit of an attitude problem. Basically he’s playing Chris Pratt.
The technical side The Magnificent Seven (2016) isn’t terrible. The editing, sound, sets and costumes sort of fade into the background, neither hurting the film, nor overly helping it. There are also some cute references to the original, but they will go over the heads of most of the audience who either haven’t seen the movie or who saw it a long time ago.
Vincent D’Onofrio, Martin Sensmeier, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Ethan Hawke, Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt and Byung-hun Lee in The Magnificent Seven (2016). Photo Credit: Sony Pictures Releasing.
If you are looking for an overlong, repetitive fight sequence, with basically no meaningful or emotional deaths, The Magnificent Seven will quench your thirst, without any blood of course because it’s PG-13. Overall, The Magnificent Seven (2016) was a waste of a movie, and a waste of a remake. With so many great filmmakers out there who have new and innovative ideas, it’s a shame studios are still buying unnecessary re-boots, but even if they were dead-set on remaking this, they could have done something more interesting with it than what they did.
Overall Grade: C-
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