Shoot ‘em up Western
You know that old classic 1960 western of the same name? Well, it looks like it’s getting a remake that nobody was asking for. How about all those other older westerns that were big in the old days? You know, the ones with the burnt-down churches, gun firing, duels, saloons, trips out into the wilderness, and a message on repentance? Well guess what? This modern take on the extinct genre does all of that with loud booming noises and not much else.
It’s the exact same tone as The Wild Bunch, the same key concept as Seven Samurai, the same type of story arc as Stagecoach, and follows under the same standards as every other western ever made. Does that automatically make The Magnificent Seven a bad motion picture though? Not exactly. It’s neither fantastic nor a failure, just somewhere in the middle.
It all starts pretty much with the usual bad guy threatening the village of Rose Creek in 1879, starting his terrorism by burning down the church. From there, the seven heroes of the town are rounded up one by one, starting with the African American cowboy, played by Denzel Washington (Glory, Training Day). Now, I have a lot of respect for this two-time Academy Award winning actor, and for the most part he plays his part here rather heroically. His role just suffers from a lack of real commitment, both on his own part as well as the director.
At least the second addition to this clan is better, the usually more laid-back actor Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy, Parks and Recreation). His character is a real jerk to everyone he meets, but it’s still hard not to like the way he plays the part, particularly when he cons his victims with card tricks and talks about how he treats his guns as if they were his wives.
But my favorite performance has to go to Ethan Hawke (Boyhood, Training Day). His calm, raspy voice feels genuine enough to tone down on all the other mayhem that goes on, especially in the third act.
Each of the four other easily distinguishable characters, which include a native, a silent one, a tagalong fellow, and an overweight drunk, follow the predictable plot structure of training the town people to fight against the bad guys in explosive gun-slinging fashion. It does sound awfully familiar, as if only every other movie of the 1950s has done this, and you know what? You’re right. But there is one additional thing that adds on to this experience that we didn’t have back then: IMAX surround sound.
With thanks to the advanced sound technology we have now, every gun firing and bomb blowing is felt with the intensity of the battle. While the camera and edit patterns may not help all the time with the enjoyment, the experience of listening to this in a large theater will.
But then again, there are plenty other films coming out within the next few months (Arrival, Passengers, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) that will utilize the use of surround sound possibly better than The Magnificent Seven. This film is visually backed up with costumes that look like they came fresh from Value Village and set pieces that do not feel lived in at all. It almost feels as if it’s too much like the feel of old westerns with the cheap-looking studio sets.
But that’s the least of my complaints. There’s nothing exactly harmful or demeaning about this motion picture, nor should it be considered among the worst of the genre. It simply is what it is. You don’t have to see it if it doesn’t grip you, and you don’t have to love it if you do end up seeing it. Just acknowledge that this remake is evidence of cinema artists striving to revive the old days when Hollywood was about simple entertainment rather than making a profit for some industry.
In a year full of remakes and sequels that very few people were asking for, it begs us to question, why did films like this one get the greenlight? I have one possible answer to that: it’s not the audience who wants to relive the old days, but the filmmakers themselves.
The Magnificent Seven is simply another way of Hollywood producers and directors to try and bring back the old days of film, when it wasn’t all about setting up franchises or taking advantage of the peoples’ tastes. It’s just like anybody else who misses how things used to be, and will do what it takes to relive the old days. It’s a common thing as well with autism, where people on the spectrum will simply not let go of certain obsessions.
Six-Word Lessons on Growing Up Autistic, Lesson #34: They Can’t Transition Between Things Easily.
Since everything in my life is always changing and causing uncalled for disturbances, I need something of familiarity that helps me to feel more in a safe place. I have had a number of these nostalgic escape devices, which includes Disney movies, episodes of SpongeBob, and Pokémon. It was like when I was at Arizona State University and I had to single-handedly move all my things from one apartment to another in a few hours, on a hot day in August. It was such a torturous experience for me, but then that evening, I watched Beauty and the Beast, and everything was alright with me. So these little callbacks to when I was younger has helped me to sustain my happiness and keep pushing forward.
This sort of tactic has been known to help kids with ASD of all ages, especially when they’re younger, as described in my sister’s book:
The Kindergarten Adventures of Amazing Grace: What in the World is Autism?
This tells about a boy in his kindergarten class who is so nervous about going to a new school that he has to carry around a stuffed giraffe with him everywhere. It helps him to feel secure, having that familiar object with him everywhere he goes. The only problem was that carrying the old stuffed giraffe with him everywhere made the other kids in his class disrespect him, thinking that it made him look “babyish.”
Hence why kids who do need to have that sense of familiarity should never become a subject of bullying. I once heard of a teenager with autism who still carried around a plush toy from his youth wherever he went. Imagine the sort of hard time he gets from his peers! I do not want to hear of anyone being unnecessarily bullied because they need something a little extra to feel more confident in another place. We all have completely different needs, and if someone needs to always have something that brings back old feelings, then it is our duty to encourage that.
Nostalgia is not a bad thing, it gives us a means of getting away from the harsh happenings of the now. It reminds us how things were not always bad, and if we could get by then, we can get by in the future.
- What are some of your favorite memories? Keep those memories close at hand wherever you are. This can include pictures hung up in your home, pictures placed in your wallet, or a bracelet that you wear all the time.
- Do not ever put down somebody with autism for his/her childish habits. You don’t know what they go through. It could just so be that a babyish-looking toy is carried for the sake of feeling secure in what to them is a difficult time.
- Don’t discourage your autistic child from holding on to childhood nostalgia. It is their way of finding a sense of security in a world that is not typically kind to their autistic needs. What they need from you is space and a bit of freedom.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see reviewed, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!
Chitwood, Scott. The Magnificent Seven Review. Digital image. Coming Soon. LLC, 22 Sept 2016. Web. <http://www.comingsoon.net/movies/reviews/769045-the-magnificent-seven-review#/slide/1>.
The Magnificent Seven. MGM. Web. <http://www.mag7movie.com/#home>.