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Sunday, September 25, 2016

MOVIE REVIEW: THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN








































In this remake of the classic 1960 oater of the same name (itself a Western remake of Akira Kurosawa's masterpiece, The Seven Samurai), seven gunslingers join forces in order to protect a small town from a mining tycoon (Peter Sarsgaard) and his goons, who plan to seize the residents' land by force. The seven-man army is led by a mysterious bounty hunter (Denzel Washington), and also includes a sharp-witted gambler (Chris Pratt), a troubled ex-Civil War soldier (Ethan Hawke), a mountain man (Vincent D'Onofrio), an expert knife thrower (Byung-hun Lee), an outlaw (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), and a Comanche warrior (Martin Sensmeier). Directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day). ~ Jack Rodgers, Rovi

Director: Antoine Fuqua

Cast: Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D'Onofrio, Lee Byung-hun

Release Date: Sep 23, 2016

Rated PG-13

Runtime: 2 hr. 12 min.

Genres: Action/Adventure

Review:

I’ll start by saying that I’ve never seen the original The Magnificent Seven film so I don’t have anything to compare it to.  The plot itself has been recycled multiple times so the story itself doesn’t hold much in the way of surprises.  Antoine Fuqua seems to know this so he tries his best to honor the classic westerns of yesteryear.  As such, you get plenty of scenic cinematography and high intensity shoot outs throughout.  Ultimately, the only way this film would maintain anyone’s interest would be because of the cast.  Denzel Washington holds the entire film together as the steely eyed bounty hunter.  The film is at it’s best during the first half as the team is assembled and we get a taste of each of the characters being assembled.  Some of which get more time than others but in the end you can tell the actors are just having a blast.  That keeps the film fun and interesting even as we start heading into very well worn territory in terms of story.  As such, The Magnificent Seven is an enjoyable bit of entertainment that could have used a tad bit more depth to make it truly standout.

B

Cindy Prascik's Review of The Magnificent Seven







































Dearest Blog: Yesterday it was off to Marquee Cinemas for one of my more anticipated offerings of 2016, Antoine Fuqua's remake of The Magnificent Seven. Spoiler level here will be mild, nothing you wouldn't know from the trailers. 
When a brutal robber baron tries to steal a town right out from under its inhabitants, the townsfolk turn to an eclectic band of gunslingers to defeat him. So, dear reader(s), you're tired of remakes and reboots and rehashes, right? I hear ya. Hollywood apparently doesn't, but I do. Scarred though you may be by lady Ghostbusters and a decidedly Michael Bay-ish Ben-Hur, I'm asking you to give this one a chance. Please. 
Throwing the universe's most watchable actor, Denzel Washington, into an ensemble picture is a bit like putting a perfect diamond on a CZ-tennis bracelet--no matter how good the rest is, it won't compare--but he does a masterful job of leading this pack without actively scene-stealing. 
His diverse group of not-so-merry men is uniformly fantastic, with Byung-hun Lee and the brilliant Vincent D'Onofrio nearly walking off with the movie. Gunfights are tightly-choreographed chaos, a delight to watch. The picture also boasts some majestic scenery and a lovely score by Simon Franglen and the late James Horner. 
Throughout, it feels like a throwback to the glory days of Hollywood westerns. Among The Magnificent Seven's relatively few weaknesses: It relies just a little to heavily on Chris Pratt's appeal, while criminally wasting the lovely Matt Bomer. 
Haley Bennett overacts like a madwoman at times. There are some weirdly obvious inaccuracies, like blindingly-white teeth all 'round, and a few prominently-placed prostitutes who more closely resemble 1980s video extras than anything from the wild west. The entire cast is sweat-shiny for the duration...except Denzel, who is cool as a cucumber until the very end. 
Also, the movie is occasionally so very traditional as to appear almost comical on today's cinema landscape. This remake defies many current cinema norms. Though a battle is the picture's primary focus, there are no bloated, never-ending fight scenes. The pace is deliberate, but the movie is never dull. There's surprisingly little graphic gore, despite a Game of Thrones-esque body count. 
The single female lead provides opportunities aplenty, yet she's never shoehorned into a romance with any of our heroes. Finally, this film is utterly disinterested in kicking off a franchise. Come on, reader(s), when was the last time you walked out of the theatre without feeling like you'd just been set up for the next sequel? 
The Magnificent Seven is a beautifully-filmed, epic western that features top-notch performances from some of today's best and most-loved actors. Simply put, movies like this are why I go to the movies. 
Of a possible nine Weasleys, The Magnificent Seven gets eight. 
Until next time... 


Sunday, September 18, 2016

Cindy Prascik's Review of Snowden

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Dearest Blog: Yesterday it was off to Marquee Cinemas to check out the latest from Oliver Stone: Snowden. 
 
Spoiler level here will be mild, nothing you wouldn't know from the trailers. Convinced the US government's spying has gone too far, a CIA consultant steals information to expose its secrets. Snowden is awards bait at its most obvious. 
 
Timely, contentious subject matter combines with decorated talent to peg it an early contender, but that doesn't necessarily make it a great movie. 
 
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is compelling as Edward Snowden, though his deliberate method of speech is nearly as distracting as his French accent was in The Walk. Rhys Ifans and Nicolas Cage turn in terrific performances as Snowden's CIA mentors, and Melissa Leo, Zachary Quinto, and Tom Wilkinson are fantastic as the journalists who helped break Snowden's remarkable story. 
 
While Snowden's tale is undoubtedly fascinating, the movie seems to drag. Your attention isn't likely to wander too far, but you'll be getting mighty fidgety by the second act. A political story by default, Snowden may annoy both sides of the aisle equally. 
 
Unlike last weekend's pristine cinema hero, Sully, Ed Snowden is no squeaky-clean good guy; his reasons were brave and selfless, but he still broke laws intended to protect the country he loves so much. Is he a heroic villian? A villianous hero? The movie asks the questions, but isn't all that convincing in its answer. Snowden is distractingly desperate for awards, but there are some great moments to be found. 
 
A scene where a video-screen Ifans looms cartoonishly-large over Levitt's doubting Snowen is particularly effective. 
 
The film maintains tension throughout, but a cheesy ending leaves you feeling like it was all for naught. Snowden clocks in at 134 minutes and is rated R for "language and some sexuality/nudity." Snowden is a reasonably entertaining outing, but its heavy-handedness is ultimately its downfall. Of a possible nine Weasleys, Snowden gets five and a half. 

Fangirl points: Timothy Olyphant! Until next time... 
 

Saturday, September 17, 2016

MOVIE REVIEW BLAIR WITCH








































Director: Adam Wingard 

Cast: Wes Robinson, James Allen McCune, Callie Hernandez, Corbin Reid

Release Date: Sep 16, 2016

Rated R for Terror, Some Disturbing Images and Language

Runtime: 1 hr. 29 min.

Review:

The Blair Witch Project was such a singular moment in cinematic history that it’d be impossible to recreate the buzz and feel of watching that original film.  Regardless, Adam Wingard tries to do just that with mixed results.  This sequel is really just a remake of the original film with updated technology and a shiner gloss.  Blair Witch follows a lot of the same beats of the original film with a few twist and turns to spice things up a bit.  The third act offers up some interesting questions about what’s really happening but it’s not enough to make this a truly memorable film.  There are some fun sequences but there are just too many moments that emulate the original film. Occasionally, going so far as to lift shots and dialogue from the original.  This slavish adherence to the original leaves this sequel unable to find its own footing and feel.

C+
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