Try as I might, I just could not get to Antoine Fuqua’s remake of The Magnificent Seven (The original, a Western re-imagining of Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai) in the theater. I had a free ticket from The Magnificent Seven collection Blu-ray set I picked up at Best Buy to revisit it before this new one. Also in hand, I had a free IMAX ticket from a guest spot on an internet radio program I guested on to talk The Magnificent Seven. The film opened and did well, keeping it in theaters for quite some time, but I just could not get the time. Well, now I finally do, and in glorious 4K Ultra High Definition Blu-ray. That’s no match for IMAX, but I’ll take it as a rather nice concession in the comfort of my own home.
In Director Antoine Fuqua’s modern vision to a classic story, the desperate townspeople of Rose Creek employ protection from seven outlaws, bounty hunters, gamblers and hired guns after the town falls under the deadly control of industrialist Bartholomew Bogue. As they prepare the town for the violent showdown that they know is coming, these seven mercenaries find themselves fighting for more than money.
For many people, the thought of a remake brings about eye rolls and their constant uninformed complaining about nothing original in Hollywood anymore blah blah. Add on top of that a remake that its remaking itself off of was indeed a remake, too and its just extra jokes. They all forget that some of their favorite films or ones we have cherished over the years were remade. Heck, sometimes we knock off and get some of our favorites and new innovative ideas from that. Overall, the point is, let a film, be it original or remake or rip off stand on its own and don’t groan. It may be fun. It may be good. It may be better than it has any business being. And Antoine Fuqua’s The Magnificent Seven is just that.
Fuqua knows the core recipe instilled in Seven Samurai and filtered right into the original The Magnificent Seven. While this film seems like it pulls almost completely from the western version, it still gets the idea and then puts its own stamp on things. Said idea is that the cast leads the charge in the film. And with all seven members, plus the surrounding characters, this film is lively, fun and separate enough from its predecessors to sit by itself and not feel incredibly repetitive or pointless. This film has energy, excitement and is constantly proving its worth and reasons to exist. Its no title cash in.
Denzel Washington leads a nice charge of a cast to protect the small western town. Fuqua’s cast in this film keeps the basic gist of the characters from the previous film but expands upon them. Obviously, this is a much more diverse cast of characters here, but aside from that surface level observation, they are all their own unique people aside from the one trait that would make them recognizable to someone who has seen the previous film. This is also character actor city, with the likes of Ethan Hawke and Vincent D’Onofrio looking like they are having a blast and chewing up scenery. Haley Bennett might not have a fun role here, but she gives a pretty damn good performance to go along with a terrific turn she had in The Girl on the Train this year. As expected, Peter Sarsgaard plays a great ruthless bastard in the film.
One area where the film sets itself apart and improves upon its predecessor, is in the action department. Granted, this is a more modern film, but it really helps things along. Fuqua crafts some really fun and interesting shootouts. There are sequences staged in this film that really bring an intensity and load in some surprises. Things get loud, things get explosive, they get tragic and they also bring the thrills. The cast here all is game and sells it quite well. It works quite well.
The Magnificent Seven is a heck of a fun film, and with all they had in line for it, I’m surprised that they didn’t give this one a shot at a summer release. Its really got a lot of what summer movies have going for them right here. Its also the best film (Or first film I’ve really enjoyed) from Antoine Fuqua in quite a while. I’m never going to pass on an opportunity to watch Seven Samurai again (One of the greatest achievements ever in film), but I think I would easily reach for this over the original western remake. The film just paces itself better, carries more thrills and the cast is just as game.
Encoding: HEVC / H.265
Resolution: 4K (2160p)
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
Clarity/Detail: The Magnificent Seven comes to 4K UHD just like the descriptive word in its title says so. This film is one of the best 4K UHD offerings for modern film. Its a razor sharp, crisp as hell image, littered with an insane amount of detail. I’ll explain more in the individual sections, but the work on the depth, blacks and colors are all plenty impressive. The film also moves smoothly, cleanly and confidently. Those picking this one up should be crazy happy with their magnificent purchase.
Depth: Magnificent in this 4K UHD presentation is the dimensional work on display in this picture. While the big landscaping scenes can be breathtaking and just absolutely deep and gorgeous, its some of the interior work that impresses. When inside a saloon or church or what have you, take note of the open doorways or windows in relation to the characters and camera movement. The backgrounds look entirely three dimensional and place plenty back to enhance the depth. Also, some of the backdrops while characters are stirring about in the middle of town provide this same effect.
Black Levels: Blacks are rich, deep, layered and overall give a very nuanced performance of what you’d want from 4K. Even in the darkest depths, you can still make out the outlines, patterns and such on people and objects. Shadows are quite gorgeous looking in their appearance. Details on hair follicles (seriously, check the frizz out), clothing and surfaces still managed emanate patterns, and detail like threads, scuffs, scrapes and overall aging. No crushing witnessed during this review.
Color Reproduction: This isn’t a film for crazy colors, but boy does this thing even make dirt brown pop. Every color in this scheme is rich, full and luscious in appearance. Greens from valleys and such look marvelous as the picture really brings on the HDR in places that don’t seem obvious to one when watching. The clothing in this, too, get some nice pop.
Flesh Tones: Skin tones are pretty warm and maintain consistency throughout the duration of the film. Facial features are crisp and visible from any distance. You can make out freckles, stubble, wrinkles, dirt, dried blood, chapped lips and more like looking through a window. There’s a great part where Ethan Hawke is being shaved and you can see a concise difference between his dirty dusty skin color and the clean, freshly shave portion of his face.
Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos (English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD default), English Audio Descriptive Service, French (Canadian) 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, German 5.1 Dolby Digital, Hungarian 5.1 Dolby Digital, Italian 5.1 Dolby Digital, Polish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital, Russian 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish (Castilian) 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish (Latin) 5.1 Dolby Digital, Thai 5.1 Dolby Digital, Turkish 5.1 Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Arabic, Bulgarian, Chinese (Traditional), Czech, Dutch, Estonian, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Slovene, Spanish (Castilian), Spanish (Latin), Thai, Turkish
Dynamics: Holy crap, this is one hell of a Dolby Atmos track! The Magnificent Seven blasts through your viewing area, putting you right amidst a shootout or just horse riding over the plains of the old west. This track really knows and is fully aware of where its action is at and enhances so with such, layered, detailed sound effects perfectly tracked in their volume. It comes with a healthy balance of the score and dialogue thrown in with said effects too. Whether its a gun clicking or a spur sputtering on a wooden saloon floor, its going to sound real and like its right there in the room with you.
Height: From above you get some extra bullets whizzing by or a horse galloping or over the screen. There are some shouts and parts that happen on high points of buildings that do bring the effect right above you as well. This is a mix that recognizes the ceiling speakers, but doesn’t abuse, keeping things true to the film itself and as integral part of the mix.
Low Frequency Extension: This western sure knows how to rumble. Loud, railgun fire, shotguns, pistols, roaring fires and explosions fill out the pumping action of the film. Also crashing through wood, punches, knives impaling and clip clopping of horse hooves will pitter patter on your subwoofer as well. The LFE really brings a pounding to give this film an involved and intense feel in the viewing.
Surround Sound Presentation: The Magnificent Seven is aware and fully functional in keeping its action sequences and environments completely realized through the 7 channels. Bullets whizzing, gun fire from behind or to the side, people in town just doing normal commerce all are accounted for and realized in this mix. Ambiance isn’t just constant sound here either, the speakers have their own unique additions to completely match action and placement of things on screen. Little things happening in one shot are not forgotten in the next. Its a really impressive culmination in terms of surround work.
Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is crisp, clear and clean throughout. All the characters get every lip breath or lip smack accounted for when they speak in the film. Volume placement, showing distance and location is accurately pinpointed through the speakers in the movie’s entirety.
The Magnificent Seven comes with the Blu-ray edition and an UltraViolet digital copy of the film. Aside from the “Moments” feature, all the bonus features appear on the Blu-ray edition of the film.
- Chisholm (4K, 16:46)
- Faraday (4K, 12:46)
- The Seven (4K, 13:53)
- Action Sequences (4K, 18:16)
Blu-ray Bonus Features
Deleted Scenes (HD, 7:29)
The Seven (HD, 8:36) – A very safe general look at the film’s cast with interviews from Antoine Fuqua and all the members from the set.
Directing The Seven (HD, 5:03) – This is the general fluff piece on Antoine Fuqua. The producer and cast all talk about how great he is while Fuqua talks about his reasons and excitement for making it.
The Taking Of Rose Creek (HD, 5:16) – This is a little insight and discussion over one of the big action sequences in the film.
Rogue Bogue (HD, 5:26) – This one is like the other ones, but its about the villain, played by Peter Sarsgaard.
Gunslingers (HD, 4:55) – Featuring cast and crew interviews, this one talks about the gun and horse training for the film. The guy who handled the guns and such on the film goes back all the way to working with John Wayne on movies.
Magnificent Music (HD, 4:10) – This tells the story of how James Horner was the first person approached to do the score and had left Antoine Fuqua pieces of music based off the script that he had intended for the film. While all the other featurettes are incredibly generic and basic, this one is heartfelt and pretty endearing.
No, its no Seven Samurai, but it is quite a bit of fun. And like the base of this story is supposed to, its driven by a game cast chewing up scenery. This 4K UHD Blu-ray is the first Western to hit the format and its really gorgeous looking and carries a big punch all over the room with the Atmos track. If you’re wanting a 4K UHD title that’s a real example of some of the impressive things this new format can do, this is one of them. The extras here are plain, generic and forgettable. The movie warrants your attention well enough though and it performs very strong in this presentation. That’s the key.