Magnificent Seven is gunning for box office bull’s-eye

Magnificent Seven is gunning for box office bull’s-eye

There was a time when movies about the wild west dominated Hollywood. An entire generation of children wanted to be their favorite cowboy. As time went by, the Western genre of film grew wilder and the writing took on a maturity, often with discipline that defied restrictions from the 1950s and early 1960s.

1950s singing cowboy, Roy Rogers starred in more than 100 Westerns.

1950s singing cowboy, Roy Rogers starred in more than 100 Westerns.

One of the first to do that was the 1960 film starring Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson and Eli Wallach — “The Magnificent Seven.” The revenge storyline inspired later flicks like “Once Upon a Time in the West,” “High Plains Drifter” and the violent and powerful “The Wild Bunch.”

In the film, a Mexican farming community is hire gunmen from the United States to defend their village from a wicked army of bad guys.

It’s been awhile since we’ve seen a Western tale told, but “The Revenant” and “The Hateful Eight” proved that there’s still an appetite for the approach and director Antoine Fuqua has adapted the original screenplay into a modern take on the cowboy team-up format that we’ve seen in movies like “Young Guns,” “The Hateful Eight” and “Tombstone.”

Yup Brenner starred in the first "Magnificent Seven" in 1960.

Yup Brenner starred in the first “Magnificent Seven” in 1960.

This avant-garde film used an “Ocean’s Eleven” directive of pulling together the best of the class, in a gathering of greats. Denzel Washington plays Chisolm, Chris Pratt is Josh Faraday, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, Byung-hun Lee, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Martin Sensmeier, Haley Bennett and Peter Sarsgaard fill out the cast.

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The idea is nothing new, it’s based on the Akira Kurosawa 1954 movie from Japan, “Seven Samurai,” but it’s an idea that is durable and tenacious.

The movie is rated PG-13 for violence, language and suggestive material and clocks in at slightly more than 2 hours. This isn’t the first time that Denzel Washington has worked with Fuqua. You’ll remember Fuqua directed “Training Day,” which also starred Ethan Hawke.

For all of the backlash toward remakes these days, this movie avoids the label and is more of a reimagining, rather than a duplication. The village is still in need of saving, however there’s not a Mexican village, rather a Western town, along with the revisionist alteration of the storyline and direction that more closely resembles that of “Seven Samurai” than the first “The Magnificent Seven.”

Screen Shot 2016-09-04 at 10.02.09 PMThe budget of $100M is quite a bit higher than most movies of similar style, so the studios are obviously expecting results for their investment. Will it deliver? We’ll find out this month, as “The Magnificent Seven” hits theaters and IMAX September 23, 2016. My prediction is that it will build off the modern big screen squad motion pictures, like “Suicide Squad” and “The Avengers,” giving the audience more than they bargain for. This could be a modern day “Tombstone.”

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