Category Archives: Western

Just The Seven Of Us!

This review may contain spoilers. But you should read it anyway. It’s great. Trust me.

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THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (2016)

Starring: Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, Haley Bennett, Peter Sarsgaard, Byun-hun Lee

Director: Antione Fuqua

Rating: PG-13 for six gun fun and ‘splosions

Plot: Seven gunslingers are hired to protect a town from a greedy land grabber who really loves grabbing land and killing innocent townspeople.

The Magnificent Seven is a remake of a classic movie which is itself a remake of another movie.

I know, it’s confusing. Allow me to explain, then we’ll both know.

In 1954 acclaimed Japanese film director Akira Kurosowa brought us the acclaimed Japanese film Seven Samurai which starred Toshiro Mifune, an acclaimed Japanese actor and the only man on the planet allowed to wear a man bun.

toshiro

Total. Bad. Ass.

In 1960 John Sturges remade Seven Samurai into The Magnificent Seven, with cowboys in place of samurais and guns in place of wicked awesome samurai swords. That movie starred Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen, who were also very cool.

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“is that guy wearing a man bun? Yes he is. Is it Toshiro Mifune? No it’s not Toshiro Mifune. Shoot him.”

Without warning the 21st century arrived so it was time for another Magnificent Seven movie. This one is also set in the old west and stars Denzel Washington and some guy named Chris Pratt who was in that movie Passengers which everybody hated.

Okay, he was in Guardians of the Galaxy, which is pretty great.

Jurassic World was okay, I guess.

Passengers bit donkeys.

That means it’s bad. I’m trying to make “bit donkeys” a thing so feel free to use it.

Things are not at all rosy in the mining town of Rose Creek. The nearby gold mine is owned by wealthy lunatic Bartholomew Bogue (an oily Peter Sarsgaard) who treats the miners like slaves and the townspeople like pawns in a chess game where beating and murdering the pawns is how the game is played.

Evil villain Bogue wants the townspeople out of Rose Creek in three weeks, and to prove how serious he is he kills a few who dare to stand up to him, like the husband of Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett). Determined to set things right, Emma sets out to find some gunslingers to stand up Bogue and his army of vicious gunmen.

Luckily Emma heads to the next town over and witnesses ace warrant officer Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington) dispatch a bar room full of bad guys with his shiny six shooter. Chisolm is reluctant to help Emma because he’s allergic to suicide missions, but when she mentions the name Bartholomew Bogue he agrees to help with her save Rose Creek.

Hmm. Maybe Chisolm has an old score to settle with Bogue?

Hint: It’s a western. THE HERO ALWAYS HAS A SCORE TO SETTLE WITH SOMEONE.

Chisolm needs some help if he wants to take down Bogue, so on his way to Rose Creek he recruits six more gunslingers to get the job done.

Cowboy Roll Call!

Cocky gambler Faraday (Chris Pratt) who drinks a lot.

Ex Confederate Army sharpshooter Robichaeux (Ethan Hawk) who also drinks a lot.

Asian Billy Rocks (Lee Byung-Hung) who is really good with the knives and the stabbing.

Fugitive desperado Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo) who is on Chisolm’s wanted list.

Mountain man Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio) who speaks softly and carries a big tomahawk.

Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier) A Comanche who rarely speaks and when he does it’s in subtitles.

The seven arrive in Rose Creek and easy dispatch two dozen of Bogue’s men, then tells one survivor to  run and tell Bogue he’s a big stupidhead and nobody likes him.

Figuring that if he doesn’t stop in Santa Fe for their annual Chamber Music Festival, Bogue will return to Rose Creek in seven days with an even bigger army of hired killers. Chisolm and his gunslingers helps the citizens of Rose Creek dig trenches and set explosives to even the odds against the bad guys, and nothing brings neighbors closer together than preparing for a violent and bloody land war.

Bogue and his thugs do return and The Magnificent Seven concludes with a long and explosive gunfight between townspeople and desperado. Bullets fly, lots of guys die, and Rose Creek is reduced to a pile of splintered timber and smoldering ashes. But when the smoke clears, Bogue is vanquished, a couple of people survive to clean things up, and Chisolm rides off into the sunset because good guys always win and Denzel’s name is above the title.

While Denzel, Star Lord, and the rest of the cast look like they had fun playing cowboy, this new version of The Magnificent Seven is an uninspired remake that doesn’t hold a candle to the 1960 classic or the even more classic 1954 version.

And that’s too bad because this high falutin’ city boy loves a good western.

I went out West once. Stayed in Santa Fe for a spell. Yes siree…

They got an annual Chamber Music Festival ya know..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Close Encounters of the Cowboy Kind

Cowboys and Aliens (2011) Director: Jon Favreau Starring: Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde Rating: PG-13 for old west violence and scary space aliens

Pop quiz, hotshot…

You invite a friend over to watch a DVD. He’s in the mood for an action packed sci fi movie, and you want to watch a classic shoot em up western.

What do you do? What DO you do?

I say ask your friend to leave! It’s not like he was going to contribute anything to your evening. Would it have killed him to stop off at the 7-11 for a bag of chips or an assortment of snack cakes? And he goes through your stuff when you’re in the bathroom. I’m serious! Don’t ask me how I know, I know!

But, if you insist on letting this snooping deadbeat (who is NOT your friend) stay, might I suggest you watch a movie you both will agree upon like Cowboys and Aliens, a sci fi western with scary creatures from outer space and gunslingers galore!

On a typical day in the wild wild west, a man (current 007 Daniel Craig) awakens in the Arizona desert with no memory of who he is or what has happened to him, which is not out of the ordinary for anyone who has spent an extended period of time in Arizona. The only clue he has to go on is a strange metal bracelet on his left wrist which looks like any other piece of southwestern jewelry except it doesn’t have all that damn turquoise on it.

The man moseys into a nearby town of Absolution where he is identified by the Sherriff as Jake Lonergan, a local outlaw who robs cattle and rustles banks or whatever outlaws did for kicks in 1873  (I’m not much of a history buff). His presence also attracts the attention of a local hot girl named Ella who is played by Olivia Wilde, a stunningly beautiful woman whose slinky grace and almond shaped eyes has me firmly convinced one of her parents is a Siamese cat.

Absolution is under the thumb of greedy cattle baron Woodrow Dolarhyde (a grizzled Harrison Ford) who storms into town with his crew demanding the release of his drunken idiot son from jail.  Unfortunately, Dolarhyde’s fun is interrupted by a squadron of alien spaceships who blow up half the town and carry off several townspeople, including his drunken idiot son.

Lonergan, Dolarhyde, hot girl, and a bunch of western character actors set out to rescue their kin and to make the desert safe for outlaws and bandits again. There are some creepy encounters with the CG aliens who are neither friendly to nor charmed by 19th century humans who only bathe when the seasons change.  Along the way Lonergan begins to piece together what happened to him (hint: his bracelet aint jewelry), Olivia Wilde reveals why she’s the only hot girl in the entire southwest, and Dolarhyde bores everyone with stories about archeology and Nazis.

During the films climax which features a fierce battle between humans on horseback and aliens in their towering mothership, we learn the space creatures are here mining for gold. It’s never explained why they are doing this, but I assume the gold will be brought back to their home planet and processed into quality rings and necklaces and sold directly to the consumer at rockbottom prices.

Cowboys and Aliens is an interesting mashup of two popular film genres, an experiment I hope other film makers try with other genres.

Hey…How about a horror courtroom drama!

A rom-com disaster film?

A musical heist movie?

You still there?