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Peter T Chattaway

The Magnificent Seven (2016)

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Link to our thread on The Magnificent Seven (1960). We don't appear to have a thread on Seven Samurai (1954).

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Tom Cruise attached to MGM's 'Magnificent Seven'

As MGM prepares to start production on "RoboCop" and "Carrie" later this year, the studio is going back to the vault again to develop a remake of John Sturges' 1960 Western "The Magnificent Seven" with Tom Cruise attached to star.

There is no director onboard yet, though sources tell Variety that MGM has quietly started its search for a writer.

Sources caution that while Cruise has long been interested in saddling up for a "Magnificent Seven" remake, the project is still a long ways off and is not in Cruise's immediate plans.

"The Magnificent Seven," itself a remake of Akira Kurosawa's 1954 classic "Seven Samurai," starred Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, Robert Vaughn, Brad Dexter and Horst Buchholz as a group of American gunmen hired to protect a small Mexican village from a group of savage bandits led by Calvera (Eli Wallach). The 1960 film was followed by three sequels, and "The Magnificent Seven" was remade as a CBS series in 1998-2000.

MGM is focused on mining its library for redos. In addition to "RoboCop" and "Carrie," the Lion is developing remakes of "Poltergeist," with Sam Raimi producing; "WarGames," with Seth Gordon directing; "Death Wish," with Joe Carnahan directing; and "Valley Girl." Open Road will distribute MGM's "Red Dawn" remake on Nov. 21. . . .

Variety, May 21

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Chris Pratt In Early Talks For ‘Magnificent Seven’ At MGM

EXCLUSIVE: Chris Pratt is in early talks to join Denzel Washington in Magnificent Seven, the MGM remake that will be directed by Antoine Fuqua. Landing the Guardians Of The Galaxy star further bolsters what is shaping up to be a terrific package on the remake of the 1960 John Sturges-directed film. The talks are early stage, and this would be the first of the six other guys to round out the cast in the story of a town that assembles a squad of seven elite gunmen to protect it. Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen and Charles Bronson were part of the ensemble cast of the original, which was released by United Artists and is a library title for MGM. Pratt’s character isn’t specifically modeled after those originals, but his character name is Farraday. . . .

Deadline.com, December 4

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NBooth   

Jason Momoa?

 

Jason Momoa, the future Aquaman, is in negotiations to join the all-star cast of MGM’s remake of The Magnificent Seven.
 
If a deal is made, the actor will join Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, Wagner Moura and Haley Bennett in the Western, which updates the 1960 movie that starred Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson and Robert Vaughn. Antoine Fuqua is directing.
 
Wait, Denzel Washington? Vincent D'Onofrio? Dang.

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On 5/22/2012 at 11:00 AM, Andrew said:

Meh - I thought the 'Mag Seven' was rather anemic.

That Bernstein score, though.  That's enough of a shot of iron to redeem it.

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NBooth   

Going to see this today, so I thought I'd check out the soundtrack. It only took 0.05 before I said to myself, "Yep. This is a James Horner score."

Plenty of Bernstein references in there, too. And the Magnificent Seven theme appears as the last cut on the soundtrack.

Edited by NBooth

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4 hours ago, NBooth said:

Going to see this today, so I thought I'd check out the soundtrack. It only took 0.05 before I said to myself, "Yep. This is a James Horner score."

Plenty of Bernstein references in there, too. And the Magnificent Seven theme appears as the last cut on the soundtrack.

It's interesting that Horner's career is nearly (he had 3 earlier credits) bookended with compositions for film adaptations of The Seven Samurai (his fourth credited film as composer was Battle Beyond the Stars).

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NBooth   

That is interesting. Someone on FB pointed out that the horns from the BBS battle scene show up in TM7. Then again, they show up in all of Horner's stuff, so....

....

Looks like I won't be joining the emerging critical consensus on this one. It's not as good as the Brynner version, obviously. The character work could have used some polish and the thematics are interesting insofar as they exist, but for the most part they don't, so there's that. And the closing voiceover is so stupid I wish they had just layered on the end monologue from the original movie. 

But--I had a blast. Washington and Pratt are good, obviously. Hawke is a real scene-stealer in the kind-of-but-not-quite Robert Vaughn role, and D'Onofrio is loads of fun. Lee, Garcia-Rulfo, and Sensmeier get considerably less to do (here's where more character work would have been nice) but they do it very well. Sarsgaard is very good. And the multiple nods to the original M7 movie were subtle enough, I thought, but still brought a smile to my face.

So, yeah. I liked it. I even loved it in spots.

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NBooth wrote:
: That is interesting. Someone on FB pointed out that the horns from the BBS battle scene show up in TM7. Then again, they show up in all of Horner's stuff, so....

They do indeed. I haven't seen BBS, but they're a major part of the Wrath of Khan soundtrack, and I remember noticing them big-time in Troy, too. A few other examples are cited at the 4:30 mark in this video:

 

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NBooth   

Avatar is the first movie I can think of where I went in not knowing who the composer was and figured it out in the middle of the movie.

I've been chewing over Magnificent Seven some more and here are a few more points:

1] Like I say, the character work could have been refined. But there are lovely little grace-notes scattered throughout the movie that hint at more background for these characters--I'm thinking particularly of Robicheaux and Rocks, who feel like they could have a movie to themselves, but also Robicheaux and Chisolm. Part of what makes the original movie (and its original) so special is the interaction between the villagers and the Seven, but there's precious little of that here. The villagers in this version are pretty much non-entities, so the movie focuses on pairing off the Seven, mostly along lines of tension: the old Indian hunter and the young Native American, Faraday and Vasquez (this one leads to one of my favorite character moments in the final battle that doesn't include Robicheax). The result is a flatter movie (there's nothing like the speech about the bravery of fathers, for instance), and the film is poorer for it. 

2] The Seven are more noticeably multiethnic here (I say noticeably because the original did include a diverse set of gunslingers--they were just largely played by white men. Germans playing Mexicans. That sort of thing). The director has said he did this in the interest of historical reclamation: there were large numbers of African American and Asian cowboys and gunslingers who have by and large gotten written out of the national imaginary. Fair enough. But there's something programmatic about the setup here that merits analysis. The pairings laid out above all break down along racial/ethnic lines: Chisolm and Robicheaux fought on opposite sides of the Civil War (and Robicheaux persists in calling it "The War of Northern Aggression" at one point); Faraday, when he first meets Vasquez, launches into some nonsense Spanish and behaves in a generally frat-boyish manner; Horne is an ex-Indian hunter who took scalps for the Federal Government, so of course he winds up paired off with Red Harvest (meanwhile, Red Harvest, the "good Indian" takes out the "bad Indian"--the latter of whom is a race traitor).

3] Racial humor, in the Zizek sense, is a running subtext here (NSFW): 

In one of the movie's few entirely-character-based scenes, the gunmen are eating and Horne quips about Red Harvest eyeing his scalp. There are other instances I noticed at the time, but they are not coming to me now. The Seven-as-a-ragtag-group is, of course, a foundational part of the genre, but what's noticeable here is how much of that rag-tagness is based entirely on race. Meanwhile, Red Harvest complains about "White Man's food" and Chisolm (!) asks if Red Harvest speaks "White Man's English." The talk about God and Capital in the first twenty minutes of the movie seems to set up one set of thematic concerns--a set that isn't really followed through with (or, at least, not extensively enough to satisfy me). But it seems that there's another set of concerns here, one that is followed through with: the problem of inter-racial harmony in a racially divided world dominated by white power (the villain here, with his mostly monochrome henchmen, is pretty much the embodiment of The Man). And the harmony is achieved in precisely the way Zizek lays out in the clip above: not by the members of the Seven sitting around and appreciating each other or engaging in Very Serious Conversations (not that those aren't important irl; I'm talking about the movie, here), but through the democratic (carnivalesque?) exchange of racial humor. That is, they don't pretend there are no problems--they highlight the problems and find a way to work through them anyway.

4] Again, I'm talking about the movie here, not making recommendations. It seems to me that any search for thematic material in this version will have to go this direction, though--the dying-of-the-Old-West stuff is played out by now, anyway, and makes little-or-no appearance in this movie. And it even makes some sense out of what I think is genuinely the worst moment in the movie--the dumbest moment in a movie that features Chris Pratt using card tricks as part of his gunplay--I mean, the closing monologue. It's a frankly stupid moment, spoken over what looks like CGI crosses. But here's the thing--if the movie is more interested, thematically, in problems of racial harmony in America, it makes total sense to underline the fact that what makes these men magnificent is that they worked together and died together in order to establish a more just society. It's handled very poorly, but I see what's going on there.

5] Along those lines:

 

Three of the four men who die in the end are white. The survivors this time are the African-American Chisolm, the Native American Red Harvest, and the Mexican Vasquez. 

That has to play into a consideration of the film's racial thematics as well.

6] Seriously, can we just get a prequel with Robicheaux and Rocks?

7] Prediction: give it a couple of years and this movie will show up on The Unloved.

8] One thing foregrounding the racial dynamics does for this movie is it allows the half-baked God-and-Money stuff the chance to redeem itself. If the villain is The Man, then his manipulative use of religion in order to further his own capitalist ends makes sense; capitalism, by this reading, would be tied to racial injustice at a root level. Both Capital and Religion become united in order to further the ends of the (white) powerful against the (also white) villagers and the minority groups represented by the Seven (Chisolm's backstory is important here). From one angle--and I'm less sold on this than on other stuff I've said above--The Magnificent Seven is a revolutionary text in the sense of actively calling for revolution. White power, in this movie, is complicit both in the extermination of native groups and minorities and in the continual enslavement of poor whites. The solution is for poor whites and minorities to band together against the power.

9] And here it's telling that all of the white members of the Seven are racists to one degree or another: Robicheaux fought on the side of the white-supremacist Confederacy and still has some nostalgia for the Lost Cause, even though in practice he befriends Chisolm and Rock; Horne is an ex-Indian hunter whose job involved taking scalps from dead Native Americans; Faraday, though perhaps less overt, is pretty much a frat-boy when it comes to dealing with members of other races (at least, as long as they're not played by Denzel Washington). But--the movie seems to say--they're not the enemy. The enemy is the power-structure that made possible slavery or imperialistic expansion into native lands, and that power-structure is represented by Bogue.

10] I should stop before I get carried away, but all of this plays into the fundamental racial inversion of the movie: in the original, the villagers are all Mexican and they have to be saved by a band of (mostly) white gunmen. Here, the villagers are white and the gunmen are mostly non-white. If this movie is a revolutionary text (which, again, I'm not convinced it is), then the fundamental message is that only a majority-minority coalition can save America from white supremacy. Which sounds like a hot-take, but it really isn't. I'm not even convinced it's an accurate reading of the movie. It's just one direction this train of thought suggests.

Edited by NBooth

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NBooth   
1 hour ago, Peter T Chattaway said:

Once again, NBooth, I am in awe.

Thanks! I'm probably putting way more thought into the movie than it deserves, but I don't think it's nearly so brainless as [some] critics seem to suggest. It's flawed, but not brainless.

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The first ten minutes are now online -- and you can tell within seconds that the score (or at least its component themes) was written by James Horner:

 

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NBooth   

Priscilla Page has some thoughts on the race stuff in MAG7:

In his 1907 autobiography The Life and Adventures of Nat Love, Love wrote: “In those days on the great cattle ranges there was no law but the law of might, and all disputes were settled with a forty-five Colt pistol. In such cases the man who was quickest on the draw and whose eye was the best, pretty generally got the decision.” At its most basic, the Western is a dream, a creation myth set in a wide open space where we make our own law, and our own justice. The Western’s characters grapple with their fears, their dreams, their demons; they decide who is righteous, and who makes the law. And the Western is a microcosm of America, a reflection of the country at the time it's made. Director Antoine Fuqua claims his only wish was to see Denzel Washington on a horse, but his remake of The Magnificent Seven is undeniably a political statement about Trump’s America that also happens to be a very rare thing: a fun, beautiful, new Western that looks forward, not back. By resisting the impulse to mire his film in nostalgia for America’s West as seen in old movies, Antoine Fuqua keeps the Western alive. The Magnificent Seven doesn’t rewrite history — it restores it.

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NBooth's post is worth at least 5 of the Magnificent Seven.  This is one of those films that I left not just disappointed in, but I kinda actually hate.  Its on Amazon Prime now, so I feel marginally better that I didn't pay extra for it.  But I've seen a handful of Fuqua's films now, and I think he's got a dour heavyhandedness that makes his stuff just unpleasant.  So the overall effect is a subversion of the mythic West (by now itself a cliche:  Blood Meridian, the Wild Bunch, Silverado, Appaloosa, Unforgiven--heck, even the clunky 3:10 to Yuma remake have mined this ground with greater reward).  But the dullness of it is overwhelming, with a dark, brutal, pounding of the senses with shooting and killing and meanness that is unleavened by any lightness.  I get it--everyone wants to be gritty, and tell the real story of the Western, but I'm of the opinion you can't have your cake and eat it too.  If you are making a PG-13 blockbuster remake of The Magnificent Seven, you need to lighten the load with likable characters (perhaps by not having one of your heroes blow the brains of out a two bit thief then shoot off his brother's ear then mock them in a sad attempt at humor or characterization), and some real sense of peril--some stakes, again, with people you might care about, or at least with characters that OTHER characters care about.  Even the Robicheaux/Rocks/Chisolm relationship was hamfisted.  Ugh. And I can't even remember the ending VO, and I watched this a week ago.  Not a fan.   I'd argue the right way to do this is to hand the reins over to Costner and let him turn it into an Open Range 2.  That was a western that knew what it was doing--even with some pretty dark and gritty stuff happening.

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I think it was Andrew Johnson who first pointed out to me that:

the day is won by a suicide bomber.

If I thought that were meaningful rather than just cheeky, I might (have) upgrade(d) the film.

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