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Simply magnificent, 7UP - Movie review

MOVIE REVIEW: OK, I have to confess, I went to see the remake of the 1960 western classic "The Magnificent Seven" ready to hate it.

How can you improve on easily one of the greatest westerns ever conceived - even if it was a rip-off of the Japanese classic "The Seven Samurai"?

And there's that powerful Elmer Bernstein score, the theme music which rocked the 60s and stayed in our ears for years courtesy of Marlboro cigarettes adopting it as their own.

Those were the days when smoking was everywhere and so was The Magnificent Seven theme. (Check it out on YouTube if you love a magnificent theme.)

And what the heck is Denzel Washington doing in the lead role made famous by Yul Brynner, or Chris Pratt cast as his offsider, a part Steve McQueen absolutely owned?

For a start, when I first heard or read Washington, who I've loved in pretty much everything he's done, was playing the leader, again I was overwhelmed by every fabric within me which loathes political correctness.

It saddens me that an established DC character such as Superman's Daily Planet editor, Perry White, for example, has to become Perry Black for the movies. 

Or that Marvel now produce a female super hero Thor. I mean, come on. I'm much happier to read a Black Panther or Luke Cage comic, or Wonder Woman as they're rendered and intended, not adjusted to appease some vocal minority's sensibilities.

So here we have an African-American gunslinger/group leader, and his team includes a Mexican, an Asian, an Indian. Oh yeah. I knew I was going to love this.

THE ORIGINAL: The 1960 "original" a remake of the Japanese cult classic "Seven Samurai"

Plus, another confession. When I first joined Adelaide's Advertiser newspaper, a group of senior journalists had an exclusive little "old movie and TV show" club which gathered around a desk on Friday afternoons. Each member would ask a question of the others (you had to know the answer to the question you were asking) and whoever had the most correct answers was the week's winner.

Being ultra competitive, I was keen to join, especially when I overheard them being stumped by "Who was the actor who played Alexander Waverley in The Man From U.N.C.L.E.?" Hell, everyone knows it was Leo G. Carroll, geez.

So I asked to join and they were gracious. There was one initiation challenge you had to master to be admitted as a member.

Name the seven actors who portrayed The Magnificent Seven and the actor who played the villain.

It was a tough question. Yul Brynner. Steve McQueen. Charles Bronson. James Coburn. Robert Vaughan. And that's where people usually left with their heads bowed. But being ethnic, nailing Horst Bucholz was easy for me, meaning the only one of the seven I ever had to remember was Brad Dexter. He was the trap for young players.

Eli Wallach was great as the villain.

I was in the club! And it was years of laughter and fun on a Friday arvo. 

THEY'RE BACK: Well, no, not quite.

Well here's the thing. I loved The Magnificent Seven, circa 2016. I didn't want to but I found myself enjoying it pretty much from go to whoa.

It was a good old fashioned shoot 'em up, good versus evil morality tale, and, OK, it was fun to see Denzel on a horse too.

Even though it was Chris Pratt hitting the bottle in this one, Ethan Hawke's character reminded me of Robert Vaughan's in the original, but this wasn't so much a remake as a re-imagining.

Vincent D'Onofrio is such a superb actor. He made me understand, appreciate and even slightly root for the character of the murderous, villainous Kingpin as he played him in the exceptional Daredevil TV series on Netflix.

His character in The Seven could not be more different but equally appealing. 

Lee Byung-Hun and Martin Seinsmeier almost stole the movie and Manuel Garcia-Rulfo's Vasquez could have had a few more lines.

Peter Sarsgaard was a believably frustrated protagonist as Bartholomew Bogue, the ruthless mining baron riding roughshod over the pathetic little hamlet of Rose Creek.

And Haley Bennett's Emma Cullen, who enlists Sam Chisholm (Washington) and his team of misfit heroes, would make more than one man reach for his six-shooter.

Throughout, there were hints, teases and variations of that great theme music until, finally over the closing credits, they hit Elmer Bernstein's epic piece long enough to keep one ready-to-be-disgruntled viewer fully satisfied this was a couple of hours well spent.

RATING: 7 out of 7. 

Oct 12

Content, unless otherwise indicated, is © copyright Boti Nagy.