Almost magnificent indeed

mag72017. 22: The Magnificent Seven (2016) – Blu ray

Surprisingly good. A damn solid Western, proving there is life in that old genre yet.

Back when this remake was announced, I had the natural response of ‘why bother?’ It always seems weird when a perfectly fine, classic film gets the remake treatment when so many poorer films could possibly better argue for another shot. Films like Logans Run, say, of which a remake might benefit from better effects technology and ability to stay more faithful to the original book (although I’m certain fans of that film might cry foul at such heresy).  But why The Magnificent Seven? The original is perfectly fine, what could a remake offer?

Yet here we are, another version is with us. But it works. Its different enough to qualify as a reworked adaptation for modern audiences, has a good solid cast reflecting some of the male stars of this generation, but doesn’t push any revisionism too far. You could almost argue it’s actually quite old-fashioned in how it respects the original and the Western genre, but there is also a self-knowing eye on everything; it is a Western that knows it is being released in 2016.  The carnage alone shows its a modern movie- its surprisingly violent and the death-toll is up there with a Rambo flick; there are enough bodies littering the landscape at films end to befit a massive war movie. But it works.

Its an approach reflected in the music too. Here the film has a poignant status, as the score was started -and its main themes written- by composer James Horner prior to his death. Completed by the composer’s musical team (the score credited to ‘by James Horner & Simon Franglen’) it sounds like an authentic James Horner score, almost crushingly so, as it’s the last original music from him that we will ever hear (discounting the slim possibility of, say, his Romeo & Juliet score, which was recorded and then dropped, getting a release). LIke the film itself, the music references Western traditions and even the original Elmer Bernstein score, but remains modern and ‘current’ in its execution/orchestration. It was such a bitter-sweet thing though, hearing familiar Horner-isms in the music, moments that sounded like earlier Horner scores, a reminder of what we have lost. But its a strong score that propels the film forward and is no small part of the films success, and forms a fitting finale to the composer’s career.

So I’m just left to wonder, will we get a sequel, as the original film did? I believe this film was a box-office success, and we all know how fond Hollywood is of sequels. I’d actually like to see it, if it could be handled by this same creative team. There’s nothing wrong with a damn fine Western, and I’ve always got time for another.

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One thought on “Almost magnificent indeed

  1. Sounds like it delivers on what trailer promised — that is, a somewhat traditional Western, but with very modern action, primarily aimed at being entertainment. I’m looking forward to making time for it (especially as I feel no strong attachment to the original).

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