The Magnificent Seven (4K Blu-ray) (2016)

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Released 30-Dec-2016

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Western None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2016
Running Time 132:49
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
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 $39.95 Music James Horner
Simon Franglen


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Atmos
English Dolby TrueHD 7.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
German Dolby Digital 5.1
Hungarian Dolby Digital 5.1
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1
Russian Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 2160p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Arabic
Bulgarian
Czech
Dutch
Estonian
French
German
Greek
Hebrew
Hungarian
Indonesian
Italian
Korean
Latvian
Lithuanian
Mandarin
Polish
Portuguese
Romanian
Russian
Slovak
Slovenian
Spanish
Thai
Turkish
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

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

††† Universal Sony present this new The Magnificent Seven on 4K Blu-ray in glorious 2160p, via the HEVC / H.265 video codec. Although shot on 35mm film stock, according to IMDb the movie was only completed at 2K, making this (presumably) a 4K upscale with HDR (high dynamic range) grading having been performed. The resultant presentation does represent a slight but nevertheless noticeable upgrade over its standard 1080p counterpart, rendering it the superior way to watch this Western on home video. Certainly, the standard Blu-ray still looks outstanding and you won't be missing out by sticking with it, but if you're 4K-compatible, I whole-heartedly recommend this edition.

††† Instantly, the increase in texture and detail afforded by 4K is visible, with a more refined grain structure, while the HDR gives the colour a serious boost and added pop. Every pore and wrinkle on the faces of the actors is discernible in close-ups, and the presentation brings out the intricate production design all the more. Indeed, you can sit back and marvel at the amazing textures on the clothes, the detail of the holsters, and every splinter of wood on the well-worn buildings. Leather looks extraordinarily lifelike, and you can make out every bullet-hole. Sharpness is top-of-the-line, with exceptional clarity and object delineation. It's such a perfectly clear image, yet it's also natural - Sony allows the movie to maintain a superbly subtle layer of grain to accentuate the filmic look.

††† The movie still looks dusty and warm, with the HDR grading at no point radically altering the intended colour scheme. It's more vibrant than every before, boasting improved colour depth and deeper blacks, effortlessly bringing out the beauty of the cinematography. A number of outdoor scenes were shot on location and feature spectacular backdrops, which again are easier to admire in 4K. You can legitimately count the blades of grass. It's smooth sailing from an encoding standpoint, as well - absolutely no aliasing, macroblocking, crush or banding spoils the flawless image. I was actually taken aback by how great the image looks.

††† As with the standard 1080p Blu-ray, the source does limit the presentation in some areas. Shonky CGI shots look a hair soft just as they did in the cinema, and the movie is deliberately dark in some scenes (particularly during a scene at the end set in a burnt-down church), which was a creative decision on the part of Fuqua and his cinematographer. Nevertheless, this is the best that The Magnificent Seven can look on disc; it felt like I was back in the cinema. It might even look better than it did in the cinema. It's more refined than its 1080p counterpart, and looks perfectly crisp in darker sequences. On the whole, this is a handsome, refined 4K presentation, one of the best that the format has to offer in this early stage, and it's hard to imagine anybody being disappointed.

††† As with the standard Blu-ray, there are heaps of subtitle options here. I found the English track to be easy to read and free of issues.

††† Note: Ultra HD is a new technology, and to get the most out of it, you need the proper equipment. Beyond the obvious UHD TV and 4K Blu-ray player, you also need to upgrade to HDMI 2.0 cables which are fast enough to accommodate the high bitrate, and support HDR. Some UHD televisions - as paradoxical as it sounds - don't even have HDMI 2.0 ports (buy Hisense at your own risk), so shop around before you buy. In addition to this, to get the most out of the viewing experience, your TV needs to be able to support HDR10 and/or Dolby Vision. Not all UHD TVs are created equally. Shop wisely, my friends.


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

Audio

††† Upping the ante in the audio department as well, Sony provides a Dolby Atmos track here, which defaults to a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mix for those who aren't Atmos-compatible. Since I only have a 7.1 set-up, I was unable to notice any difference in the audio compared to the already-stellar DTS-HD MA 7.1 track on the standard 1080p Blu-ray. Thus, my thoughts from the original Blu-ray below still stand:

††† 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. A variety of lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 audio tracks are also available on the disc, for those interested. But the lossless English track remains the star of the show.

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

Extras

††† No extras appear on the 4K disc, apart from "Highlights" which amounts to a few clips from the movie. Luckily, the standard Blu-ray disc available in this set comes with a fair amount of bonus material.

R4 vs R1

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

† † In both America and the United Kingdom, a Blu-ray set is available with a bonus disc featuring several additional featurettes reportedly totalling up to 30 minutes of content. The U.K. edition can be purchased quite easily from Zavvi (the U.S. Target exclusive being more difficult to obtain), and the bonus disc is available with the 4K Blu-ray, making it the easy winner here.

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.

††† Providing a noticeable improvement in the video department, this 4K disc is the best way to watch The Magnificent Seven, as it brings out more detail and texture in the cinematography. Not to mention, the 4K disc is endowed with a Dolby Atmos track, as opposed to the 7.1 mix on the standard Blu-ray, which should excite those who are Atmos-compatible. All things considered, this set comes highly recommended.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Monday, January 09, 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)
Excellent review - Anonymous REPLY POSTED
Chimes of doom! - Wilson Bros, UK