February 23, 2017
Credit must be given to MusicEd921, as this does replace the original film. Director Antoine Fuqua is never much given to subtlety, and there were many times in his film when it could easily have been The Ridiculous Six instead. Much of that is gone, and what's left is a film that isn't magnificent, but is...fine. I have to say that sadly this is just not a film that does much for me, no offense to the editor.
Many of the editor's changes are very smart, and I will say that all are incorporated flawlessly. But not all of them work for me. A big one is unfortunately the extensive reworking of the score, which I found overbearing here. Anyone who complains about the lack of hero themes in MCU films may change their mind after watching this, because there is such a thing as overkill. I really did not need to hear the Mag7 theme after every single member joins and at every "horses riding against the sun" moment. In addition, this was James Horner's final film, dedicated to him, and he's a magnificent composer in his own right. It honestly feels kind of disrespectful to trample all over his work rather than playing with it more subtly.
The primary issue holding the film back though is not anything the editor can fix: the script. While individual lines can be taken out, and characters can be made less invulnerable (though 1800s shooting accuracy is still ridiculous in this film), the editor can't add depth or character development where there is none. The deleted scenes were a nice try but honestly this is the least engaging version of Seven Samurai I've ever seen, and yes I'm including Battle Beyond the Stars.
No character besides Denzel's "Sam Chisum" has any backstory or depth (and his is removed), the writers instead settling for making them all different races and giving them "quirks". There's the noble savage, the alcoholic Irish gambler, the Mexican outlaw who respects parents, etc, etc...oh, and the widow who's dressed whorier than the actual whores in town, smh. (The movie's terms, not mine.) There really aren't any believable motivations for any of the seven, which I could let go if it were meant to be a pure action film. At 2h15 minutes though, and with few standout action moments, it feels like an attempt at both drama and action, not fully succeeding on either count.
You could do worse than this movie for a popcorn night at home, and you could do better. It's a shame with literally 9 or 10 super charismatic actors giving solid performances (Hawke and D'Onofrio are fantastic), the director couldn't come up with a better vehicle for them. I'd prefer to watch the original western, or Seven Samurai, or A Bug's Life, or Rogue One, or Battle Beyond the Stars, or Seven Swords...but if you're going to watch 2016's The Magnificent Seven, this IS the version to watch.