The Magnificent Seven

“What we lost in the fire, we found in the ashes.”

To begin with, a confession. I’ve not actually seen 1960 original of ‘The Magnificent Seven’ (I type this whilst wearing an expression of utter chastisement)… So this review will be unique as I won’t be comparing the two films but writing about this version on its own merit (she types whilst hiding desperately in the hope of not losing her wannabe film critic status!) Now we can begin!

In 1870’s American corrupt industrialist and baron Bartholomew Bart (Sarsgaard) is determined to takeover the mining town of Rose Creek. An impromptu meeting results in the death of many town’s people, including the husband of Emma Cullen (Bennett). She’s determined to save her town and get revenge for her husband’s murder so calls upon the help of bounty hunter Sam Chisolm (Washington) who brings together a group of gunslingers to help him. 

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Where this film excels is in providing fun. Whilst utilising a diverse cast it still uses the cliches we’d expect from a Western and plays around with them. We’ve got the gambler, the sharpshooter, a knife-wielding assassin, a tracker, a warrior and an outlaw being fronted by an officer of the law. They all say and do the things we’d expect them to do, yet the film and the actors themselves do this so successfully that we end up being unable to resist the charm  of the whole affair. The cast are all fantastic and truly bring their characters to life.

Washington provides a winning performance as a man closed-off and haunted by his past, determined to get the revenge he has been seeking for decades.Hawke and Lee make for an excellent double act and have an instantaneously excellent rapport. Garcia-Rulfo has an intriguing charisma, although rarely at the centre front you are constantly aware of his presence. Sensmeier is superb as the Comanche warrior who says little but does a lot. D’ Onofrio ends up being very sweet as Jack Horne, a ‘bear in people’s clothes’. MVP has to be Chris Pratt providing another charmer you hate-to-love. He’s as watchable as ever (just look at that face and tell me otherwise) and provides some of the best gags.

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There’s something endearingly old-fashioned about the movie – the characterisation, the lack of any blood whatsoever and the representation of violence. Most exchanges end up with a lot of death which the film doesn’t ponder the morality of. In fact the film goes for the ‘guns are cool’ approach which somewhats conflicts with the more modern elements of the show.

Whether this remake ‘needed’ to happen is not being debated here (as I cannot do so due to my ineptitude as a film person!) However it’s a more than entertaining thriller and it’s a true pleasure to see some old-fashioned heroes on the big screen. There’s a whole lotta charm if not quite magnificence in this throwback to old school Hollywood.

3.4

Dir:Antoine Fuqua

Country:USA            Year: 2016               Run time: 132 minutes

Cast:Denzel WashingtonChris PrattEthan HawkeVincent D’OnofrioByung-hun LeeManuel Garcia-RulfoMartin SensmeierHaley BennettPeter SarsgaardCam Gigandet

The Magnificent Seven opened in UK cinemas on September 23rd.  

Nerve

A modern moral fable for the digital age?

Nerve has lots of things going for it. An excellent concept, a solid-to-good cast and directors who are dab hands at manipulating audiences. Ariel Schulman (brother of Nev) and Henry Joost directed Catfish (2010) which is one of the best documentary films from the 21st century. The fact that six years on it is still unknown if it actually is a documentary only emphasizes just how good a film it is. It’s approach going one way then tacking a totally unexpected diversion is only one of the similarities it shares with their latest venture. There’s also the utilisation of social media – just how much trust the little rectangular shaped device we never leave home without?

Vee (Emma Roberts) is a high school senior currently in the process of trying to tell her mother (Juliette Lewis) that she wants to leave home in Staten Island and go to an arts school on the other side of the country. It’s not the first time she’s shied away from life, she shies away from most things. However when Sydney (Emily Meade), her best friend,  teasing goes too far Vee decides to prove she’s a Player not a Watcher by signing up to Nerve. Nerve is an online truth or dare game, only without the truth. All though her other best friend Tommy (Miles Heizer) is against her participating the first dare goes well and even leads her to teaming up with Ian (Dave Franco), a fellow Player. But as the dares escalate in terms of risk and the manipulation becomes all-consuming it looks like Vee is trapped in the game.

To begin, I just want to start with a bit of a moan about this film. It’s my main issue with it actually – just how ‘old’ these ‘teenagers’ actually are.  Let’s go through the stats: Emma Roberts (25 years old),  Dave Franco (31 years old), Emily Meade (27 years old), Kimiko Glenn (27 years old), Marc John Jefferies (26 years old), and Machine Gun Kelly (26 years old, and yes, apparently that is his name…) It’s hilarious that the average age of the cast is almost a decade older than the characters they are playing. I know Nerve is not alone with this,  I remember finding it hilarious when I found out the cast’s ages of Glee, but I found it far more grating here. For a film that becomes increasingly clunky/ preachy with its moralistic message it almost becomes insulting to have a cast who really don’t look 17/18 feigning at being teens. HOWEVER, the cast are reasonably charismatic enough to get away with this and certainly allow the film to chug away in an entertaining enough manner.

Like many films of this genre it’s  based on a high concept and mostly original idea yet doesn’t quite manage to become more than the sum of its parts. It’s the kind of film that when you really think about it falls apart completely and once you finish watching you won’t really remember. AND if you’ve seen the trailer you’ve pretty much seen the entire movie. It doesn’t say anything new about the dangers of the web, is full of cliched outlines rather than characters but does what it sets out to do reasonably well. It’s one of the first film’s to accurately reflect the sea of mobile phone screens that feature within every crowd of people. Plus there’s a Roy Orbison track 

Think A Cinderella Story (2004) meets Hunger Games (2012). A tale for teens that will just about entertain adults for the length of it’s 90 minute running time.

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‘Nerve’ is in cinemas now.