This movie was one I really wanted to see in the theater because I wanted to see Denzel Washington's take on a Western. I'm a fan of the original Seven Samurai (1954) by Akiro Kurasawa and have seen The Magnificent Seven (1960) by John Sturges more than once because there was a time in my childhood when you couldn't avoid Yul Brenner and Charles Bronson no matter how hard you tried.
Once again, I'm not posting a SPOILERS warning since this movie was released over a year ago.
I like this version because it is a little more reflective of the times (the movie's set in 1879). Contrary to the Westerns my parents grew up with, there were far more people of color than what the cinema and history books would have us believe. And I say this because one of DH's great-great-uncle's lead a unit of Buffalo soldiers in the 1880's.
(This brings to mind the only complaint I've received on Seasons of Magick: Summer. A reader was irritated because the heroine Shan Wong was too American, even though her mom's side of the family immigrated to the U.S. in the 1870's to work on the railroads. I think people have a very non-realistic view of American history. *smh*)
Anyway, the movie adheres closer to Kurasawa's version of the story. There's bit more character development, though the essential personalities are somewhat based on Sturges' version. The only main difference is that Haley Bennett's Emma Cullen isn't the proverbial "prize" to be won. The widow is the instigator (aka village elder in the other two movies) who seeks help after her town is attacked and her husband gunned down, and the sheriff and other citizens are too afraid to take on the robber baron trying to force them from the land.
There is no truly happy ending as in the predecessor movies. I think I would have liked it better if the final words were from Washington's U.S. Marshal Chisholm rather than Emma Cullen, a la his counterparts in the other two movies. In a voiceover as the surviving men ride away and the town returns normal, she extolls them as the town's saviors. Her words are a rather pointed take on how it's the winners who write history.
There was a sweet homage to the 1960 version of The Magnificent Seven as the score launches into that movie's theme as our heroes ride into the sunset.
My only disappointment was nothing really new was brought to story.
Overall, I give The Magnificent Seven a solid 8 stars out of 10.
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