The Magnificent Seven (Blu-ray) (2016)

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Released 30-Dec-2016

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Western Audio-Visual Commentary-Vengeance Mode
Deleted Scenes
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-The Seven
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Directing The Seven
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-The Taking of Rose Creek
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Rogue Bogue
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Gunslingers
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Magnificent Music
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2016
Running Time 132:49
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Antoine Fuqua
Studio
Distributor

Universal Sony
Starring Denzel Washington
Chris Pratt
Ethan Hawke
Vincent DíOnofrio
Byung-hun Lee
Manuel Garcia-Rulfo
Martin Sensmeier
Haley Bennett
Peter Sarsgaard
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $29.95 Music James Horner
Simon Franglen


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 7.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Arabic
Danish
Dutch
Finnish
French
Icelandic
Italian
Norwegian
Polish
Portuguese
Spanish
Swedish
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

††† 2016ís The Magnificent Seven is the very definition of ďpretty good.Ē Itís not perfect, and it doesnít transcend or reinvent the Western genre, but itís a confident old-fashioned cowboy flick bolstered by competent filmmaking and an enormously likeable ensemble cast. A remake of the iconic 1960 western of the same name, The Magnificent Seven reunites director Antoine Fuqua with Training Day actors Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke, and although there isnít much in the way of depth or subtext, the resulting flick is easy to enjoy. Not to mention, itís arguably a few notches above the last classic Western remake (2010ís True Grit).

††† Set in the late 19th Century, the remote town of Rose Creek is being bled dry by the ruthless, iron-fisted industrialist Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard), who seeks to continue amassing riches by setting up a gold-mining operation. When Bogue begins killing the residents of Rose Creek to scare them into moving, the recently widowed Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett) sets out to find help, and happens upon skilled warrant officer Sam Chisolm (Washington). Convincing the stranger to help repel Bogue, Chisolm assembles a team for the fight ahead, including wise-cracking rapscallion Josh Faraday (Chris Pratt), Mexican outlaw Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), Comanche warrior Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier), skilled tracker Horne (Vincent DíOnofrio) as well as former soldier Goodnight Robicheaux (Hawke) and his Oriental partner Billy (Byung-hun Lee). Clearing the area of Bogueís enforcers, the squad begin preparing for all-out war, and work to train the remaining townspeople to fight for their town.

††† Any remake is met with a certain amount of public outcry on principle alone, though some have been able to overlook this in the case of The Magnificent Seven since the original John Sturges-directed film was itself a remake of Akira Kurosawaís 1954 masterpiece Seven Samurai. Hereís the thing: The Magnificent Seven isnít exactly sacred like, say, the Dollars trilogy or Rio Bravo, and even though the 1960 picture is a terrific, crowd-pleasing Western, there is certainly room to reinterpret the malleable premise. Naturally, with the film carrying a reported $90 million price tag, it looks impressive from top to bottom, with meticulous production design and lavish 35mm cinematography giving vivid life to the Old West. (Even though lighting is a touch too dark at times, and some of the digital effects shots are obvious.) This is the last score to be written by the late James Horner, and itís a real standout, carrying many of the composerís trademark flourishes, including a rousing reprisal of the original movie's iconic theme.

††† Fuqua continues to show that heís one of the better guys in Hollywood when it comes to making unadulterated guy movies aimed at an adult audience, standing alongside the likes of Joe Carnahan and David Ayer. There are various skirmishes scattered throughout the movie, but the climax is something else; the story culminates with a spectacularly explosive extended action sequence, finding Fuqua in his element, directing the hell out of the carnage. Carrying a PG-13 rating, the film certainly has its brutal moments, but Fuqua doesnít dwell on the gruesome details as much as he usually does. A full-blooded R-rated version might have been interesting, but The Magnificent Seven simply doesnít need extreme levels of blood, especially since classic cowboy pictures were mostly bloodless. And even though this remake plays out with an action blockbuster sensibility, Fuqua refuses to show sentimentality towards the characters, even the leads. Nobody is invincible, even though bad guys go down after a single bullet or arrow while the heroes can keep going after getting shot multiple times.

††† The Magnificent Seven could have been a simple, pared-down 80-minute actioner, but it runs a hefty 130 minutes, displaying adequate patience in the build-up to the climactic shootout. Penned by Richard Wenk (The Equalizer) and Nic Pizzolatto (True Detective), itís possible to grow to care about the characters, and appreciate them for their respective limitations and qualities. Thereís plenty of clever interplay and bantering, too, which further humanises the titular seven. Above all, there are real stakes here; itís easy to become invested in the story. Nevertheless, the film lacks the underlying themes of the original movie, which explored the hollowness of life as a gun for hire. Thereís nothing much going on beneath the surface here beyond its black-and-white views on villainy and morality. Perhaps this was a deliberate move to make for a more refreshing, easily-digestible action flick, but the film nevertheless feels hollow on the whole.

††† It almost goes without saying, but the cast here doesnít match the pure badassery of the original film, which had Yul Brynner, Charles Bronson, Steve McQueen and Robert Vaughn - just to name a few - but the new selection of actors are effective nevertheless. Although it seems as if the producers were consciously working through an ethnicity checklist for maximum international box office appeal, the diversity actually allows each of the characters to stand out with their own distinctive characteristics and skills. Leading the pack is Washington, whoís confident and charismatic as a highly-trained gunslinger, while Hawke gets more dramatic material to chew on as a disillusioned soldier whoís haunted by the horrors of the Civil War. Meanwhile, it seems as if Pratt has been practicing his whole life to play a cowboy, and he relishes the opportunity, delivering an agreeably idiosyncratic performance. The other members of the titular team hit their marks respectively, and they all share a believable chemistry. As for Sarsgaard, he sinks his teeth into this villainous role, with a hamminess reminiscent of Western antagonists from old Hollywood pictures. Out of the Rose Creek residents, Bennett makes the biggest impression as the fiery widow, while the rest of the townsfolk are expendable.

††† For those seeking a competent, entertaining blockbuster, The Magnificent Seven should scratch your itch. Although not an instant classic able to sit alongside Unforgiven or Open Range, it is a thrilling ride nevertheless, more in line with recent endeavours like 2015ís Bone Tomahawk or the insanely underrated The Salvation. Itís also nowhere near as good as Seven Samurai, but who the hell expected it to be in the first place? Flaws and all, The Magnificent Seven is primo entertainment.

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Transfer Quality

Video

††† Unlike most contemporary blockbusters, The Magnificent Seven was shot on 35mm film stock, which is more than likely a mark of respect to the classic Hollywood Westerns of old. Although the movie does look dark at times (which was evident in the cinema), this is still a visually striking motion picture, and Sonyís 1080p, AVC-encoded high definition transfer does justice to the source. Framed at the movieís original aspect ratio of 2.39:1, whatís evident about the presentation from the very beginning is the detail and palpable grain structure, as the Blu-ray is able to bring out the intricate sets and gorgeous, vast landscapes.

††† Itís worth pointing out upfront the importance of properly calibrating oneís television. I initially starting viewing this disc before properly calibrating my display, and it often looked quite flat, but once I turned off noise reduction and TruMotion, and turned sharpness down to zero (yes, zero), the resulting picture looked beautiful from top to bottom - itís more than likely the best that the film is capable of looking in regular 1080p, thanks to a generous bitrate and its placement on a dual-layered BD-50. Since The Magnificent Seven was shot on celluloid, it features a thin but nevertheless noticeable layer of grain, creating a natural filmic texture. Detail and sharpness across the board are close to flawless - even in long shots, the presentation never falters. The Blu-ray also faithfully retains the filmís warm, earthly colour palette.

††† At times the transfer does struggle a tad, namely during darker sequences which arenít quite as refined as the daytime sequences and display some colour noise (see daytime camping scenes). Other shots here and there also lack refinement (some cutaways of folks being shot during the climax, for instance), but such moments appear limited by the source. Thankfully, there are no signs of crush, as the transfer handles the black levels brilliantly, and itís welcomely free of other encoding anomalies - there is not a single trace of aliasing, banding or ringing. Itís smooth sailing across the board, and itís difficult to imagine anybody being disappointed with this fine, organic-looking presentation of this handsome Western. The Ultra HD Blu-ray does provide a certain degree of improvement, but nobody is missing out with this standard 1080p Blu-ray.

††† Universal Sony provides a genuinely comprehensive collection of subtitle options. I had no issues with the English track, which is consistently easy to read and well-formatted.


Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

††† Whereas the 4K Blu-ray release of The Magnificent Seven features a Dolby Atmos track, this standard Blu-ray disc ďonlyĒ comes packaged with a lossless DTS-HD MA 7.1 mix. Atmos enthusiasts may be disappointed, but the rest of us will find a lot to love here. Put simply, the 7.1 audio is demo-worthy, bolstered by astonishing clarity, fidelity, separation, and subwoofer activity to really put us in the centre of the action. The dialogue mostly comes through the front speakers, and itís well-prioritised within the soundscape, ensuring we can always hear and comprehend whatever is being said. Also notable about the track is James Hornerís lively score (co-composed by Simon Franglen), which fills all the channels to terrific effect, but never drowns out the dialogue.

††† Furthermore, environmental ambience is excellent, with the sounds of insects and the wind filling the speakers during outside sequences. However, itís during the extended shootouts where the track simply roars to life. Surround channels are put to great use for maximum immersion, with bullets zipping all around, while the subwoofer ensures that every gunshot and explosion makes a real impact. The gunshots may not sound like canons, but the sounds are appropriate to the weaponry of the era.

††† I detected absolutely no encoding anomalies or flaws with the audio mix. From start to finish, it sounds sensational. Having viewed the movie in the cinema, I am more than happy with all aspects of this Blu-ray presentation. Lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes are also available in French, Italian and Spanish, for those interested.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

††† Universal Sony have assembled an agreeable supplemental package for the movie, despite its notable underperformance at the box office. I would have liked a meatier documentary and perhaps a commentary track, but I can't complain about the quality of these extras.

Vengeance Mode (HD; 173:07)

††† Rather than an audio commentary or a PiP track, you can watch the movie here with seamless branching to a number of behind-the-scenes segments featuring interviews with Fuqua and his seven leading actors as they discuss the shooting conditions, training, characters, locations, and so much more. These segments vary in length, from less than a minute to several minutes, and itís interesting to view scene-specific discussions and on-set footage whilst watching the movie. In all, thereís about forty minutes of making-of material scattered throughout, and although many would likely prefer the option to view it all separately, itís certainly more gratifying to watch it as part of the movie. Note that there is nothing in the way of an audio commentary between the segments, which does feel like something of a missed opportunity, but it doesnít matter too much in the grand scheme of things.

Deleted Scenes (HD; 7:29)

††† Four deleted scenes are available here, which can be viewed individually or via a ďPlay AllĒ function. As usual, itís easy to see why these were trimmed in the long run, but the final scene - entitled ďGoodnight SerenadeĒ - is quite good, featuring Hawkeís character playing a tune on the piano.

The Seven (HD; 8:36)

††† This first behind-the-scenes featurette concentrates on the titular seven gunslingers. Fuqua talks about his casting decisions and shares his thoughts on the performers, while the cast also chime in to discuss the film and their approach to their respective roles.

Directing The Seven (HD; 5:03)

††† This short but nevertheless fascinating segment is dedicated to Fuqua. Cast and crew talk about Fuquaís directorial technique, including his dedication to practical effects, while the filmmaker himself touches upon his love of the Western genre and his passion for the project.

The Taking of Rose Creek (HD; 5:16)

††† Another much-too-short featurette, this piece is all about the central town of Rose Creek, which was built specifically for the production. Some of the key action sequences are touched upon as well, with a primary focus on the dangerous stunt-work.

Rogue Bogue (HD; 5:26)

††† This is a profile of the movieís primary antagonist, logically enough.

Gunslingers (HD; 4:55)

††† Easily the most fascinating featurette on the disc, this extra concentrates on the weapons training and horseback riding undertaken by the cast in preparation for the movie. The actors all talk enthusiastically about armourer Thell Reed, who has been in the business for decades and even worked with John Wayne. Reed is also on hand to wax lyrical about the firearms being used for the production. Of course, I wish this was at least twice as long, but this is a great, informative segment nevertheless.

Magnificent Music (HD; 4:10)

††† Legendary composer James Horner passed away whilst The Magnificent Seven was shooting, but he nevertheless wrote the score before his death based off the script. This final featurette discusses the score, with various crew members talking about Hornerís contributions and legacy.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

† † There's a Zavvi exclusive Blu-ray edition in the United Kingdom with a bonus disc entitled "Seven Tales of Making The Magnificent Seven." Here are the featurettes on the disc:

††† The bonus disc is also available in a Target exclusive set in the United States. Reportedly, these additional featurettes total 30 minutes in all, leaving our edition looking inadequate. America and the U.K. win this time.

Summary

††† I was genuinely ambivalent towards The Magnificent Seven, though the talent involved definitely intrigued me in the lead-up to the movie's release. And I must say, I do not regret catching this one in the cinema. It's a good old-fashioned cowboy flick for guys, and I'm happy to own this one on disc. Fun and well-made, it's an easy recommendation.

††† Luckily, the Blu-ray from Universal Sony is a winner. The video presentation is about as good as can be considering the movie's visual scheme, but the audio is a knockout and the selection of special features is satisfactory. All things considered, this one comes highly recommended.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Wednesday, January 11, 2017
Review Equipment
DVDSamsung UBD-K8500 4K HDR Blu-Ray Player, using HDMI output
DisplayLG OLED55C6T. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 2160p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationSamsung Series 7 HT-J7750W
SpeakersSamsung Tall Boy speakers, 7.1 set-up

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Unnecessary remake - Cynical