Action Adventure

'The Magnificent Seven' Blu-ray Review: An all-star cast show how the West was really won

December 20, 2016Ben MK

Set in 1879, director Antoine Fuqua's remake of The Magnificent Seven roughly mirrors the structure of the 1960 John Sturges classic. Only this time, instead of Yul Bryner as the group's fearless leader, we have Denzel Washington as bounty hunter Sam Chisolm, who assembles a ragtag group of outlaws, wisecrackers and sharpshooters (Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D'Onofrio, Byung-hun Lee, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo and Martin Sensmeier) to defend the beleaguered town of Rose Creek from ruthless prospector Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard).

In the scenes that follow, Fuqua and writers Richard Wenk and Nic Pizzolatto aren't just unafraid to fall back on the tropes and clich├ęs of the Western genre; they wholeheartedly embrace them. Yet, even though the filmmakers succeed at delivering a cinematic experience that upholds the tried-and-true aesthetics of a Western, the result is something of a mixed bag, as their single-minded focus leaves the movie hovering somewhere between the worlds of action and drama, with not enough of either to justify its hearty, 2-hour-plus running time.

Still, the film's rousing finale — the inevitable, third-act battle royal that pits Chisolm and his band of well-meaning, rough-around-the-edges hooligans against Bogue and his army of bloodthirsty, armed-to-the-teeth ne'er-do-wells — is almost worth the journey. Comprising a large chunk of the movie's final portion, it essentially equates to the Western version of the climax to an Avengers or an X-Men film, only with horses, dynamite and a gatling gun, instead of super-powered combatants, futuristic technology and an invading, alien armada.

As for the performances, Washington is reliably great as usual, if not a tad understated, as the film's lead protagonist, while Sarsgaard proves he's got what it takes to be a despicable villain. The standout performance of the movie, though, belongs to Pratt, who brings the same charismatic quippiness to his part as a quick-drawing jokester that he brought to his roles in Guardians of the Galaxy and Jurassic World. And together with the rest of the impressive ensemble cast, it makes for just magnificent enough of a reason for this remake to exist.

The Magnificent Seven rides onto Blu-ray with a robust and pleasing 1080p transfer. And while the results aren't 100% flawless, it's damn near close, with ample fine detail to show off the Western-era production and costume design and rich color saturation, bringing to vibrant life the film's predominantly earth-toned color palette, green grass and blue skies. The only hitch with the movie's visual presentation are the black levels and contrast, which seem somewhat overcooked, resulting in some loss of shadow detail. Otherwise, the accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 sound mix more than makes up for this small deficiency, delivery crystal-clear dialogue and music, backed by a thrilling Old West sound design comprised of gunshots, galloping horses and explosions, all of which make their presence felt in the film's blistering, action-packed finale.

Sony's single-disc Blu-ray release includes an UltraViolet digital copy and the following Blu-ray extras:

  • Vengeance Mode (2:53:07) - An enhanced viewing mode for the film that delivers "scene specific behind the scenes video and commentary from the cast throughout the movie," where director Antoine Fuqua and the cast talk about what drew them to the film, its themes, the characters and the actors' performances, the action sequences and the stunts, and more.
  • Deleted Scenes (7:29) - Four scenes ("Breakfast Prayer," "What are You Gonna Do About It?," "Bravery and Responsibility" and "Goodnight Serenade").
  • The Seven (8:36) - A look at the titular Magnificent Seven and the actors who portray them.
  • Directing the Seven (5:03) - The cast talk about working with director Antoine Fuqua.
  • The Taking of Rose Creek (5:16) - A look at the making of one of the film's action set-pieces, from the production design, to the stunt work, to the challenges of filming in the heat of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
  • Rogue Bogue (5:26) - A look at the film's villain, Bartholomew Bogue, Peter Sarsgaard's performance and the costume design.
  • Gunslingers (4:55) - Armorer/Gun Coach Thell Reed shows viewers some of the film's weapons, and the cast talk about the requisite horse and gun training.
  • Magnificent Music (4:10) - Director Antoine Fuqua, Music Editor Joe E. Rand and Additional Music Composer Simon Franglen talk about completing the late composer James Horner's score for the film.

The Magnificent Seven is available from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment as of December 20th, 2016. The Blu-ray features English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 and English Dolby Digital 5.1 Descriptive Audio tracks. The film is presented with English, English SDH and Spanish subtitles. The total runtime is 2 Hrs. 13 Mins.

* Reviewer's note: Portions of this Blu-ray review were adapted from my original review of the theatrical release, published on September 22nd, 2016.

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