Movie Date: The Magnificent Seven (PG13)
It's hardly magnificent, but a solid enough date movie that provides good fun for all
STARRING: Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Lee Byung Hun, Haley Bennett, Peter Sarsgaard, Vincent D'Onofrio, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Martin Sensmeier
DIRECTOR: Antoine Fuqua
THE SKINNY: When a small Western town is threatened by a ruthless man (Sarsgaard) eyeing its gold mine, it's up to Emma (Bennett) to find brave men to help protect her home. The hired hands she enlists include bounty hunter Sam Chisolm (Washington), gambler Josh Farraday (Pratt), sharpshooter Goodnight Robicheaux (Hawke), tracker Jack Horne (D'Onofrio), assassin Billy Rocks (Lee), outlaw Vasquez (Garcia- Rulfo) and Comanche warrior Red Harvest (Sensmeier).
By JASON JOHNSON
This is, of course, a remake of the classic 1960 Yul Brynner movie of the same name, which was itself an adaptation of the 1954 Japanese film Seven Samurai.
Obviously, this new version isn't as good as the old stuff, but that's fine. We've learned to lower our expectations.
Anyway, the basic narrative is so powerful that it's almost impossible to ruin.
A town is in peril. A ragtag group of ruffians come together to offer their protection.
It's bulletproof. There are not many things in this world quite as touching as strong men fighting to protect the weak.
It's very primal and beautiful.
Washington is perfect in this sort of role. He's been drawn to play alpha papas before in films such as The Equalizer, Flight, Man On Fire and Remember The Titans.
I also think it's lovely that we've come to the point where no one raises an eyebrow over a black cowboy. For the record, there's also an Asian cowboy (Lee).
The only problem I have with The Magnificent Seven is probably that it doesn't look quite epic enough. In a Western, we want glorious vistas and lots and lots of space.
There are times when the camera seems too close to the action. A greater sense of vastness and wildness, as we saw in The Revenant, would have been nice.
By JOANNE SOH
I like how it's the woman who stands up and takes charge when things go awry.
Emma is the rose among the thorns but she sure isn't a wallflower.
Fuqua has certainly given this classic story a modern twist, courtesy of our plucky heroine who manages to move Sam to form his band of mercenaries.
The way she's written and portrayed by Bennett, the movie should be re-titled The Magnificent Eight.
The men know what they are in for, that their lives are at risk, yet they fight for justice. Timely for the current political climate?
Clearly paying tribute to Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai, Fuqua bides his time, nice and slow.
The thing about Westerns is that you need a lot of patience before the big showdown, but the film could have benefited from more editing as some parts are way too deliberate, thus killing the momentum.
Thankfully, the actors share solid chemistry, which is vital when you have such a varied ensemble cast. Washington never fails to be the backbone of any movie, Hawke is great as the guy with baggage, Pratt is the requisite wisecracker and Lee is cool.
That said, Fuqua is no Joss Whedon and the Seven are no Avengers.
His leads may bring out their colourful personalities well, but the others are pretty one-note. Fuqua has given us wonderful baddies in his other films, but here, he's merely a stereotypical creep.
THE CONSENSUS: It's hardly magnificent, but a solid enough date movie that provides good fun for all
Movie Review: A Chinese Odyssey Part Three (PG13)
It is okay if you haven't watched the two earlier films.
Part Three, also directed by Jeffrey Lau, offers some recaps, but they don't matter much as the entire movie doesn't make any sense.
The reboot-cum-sequel of the Stephen Chow-starring 1995 fantasy comedies A Chinese Odyssey: Part One and Part Two follows a reincarnated Monkey King, now a small-time gangster named Joker (Han Geng) who's madly in love with fairy Zixia (Tiffany Tang).
But Zixia tries to evade his advances as she knows their union will be fatal to both parties.
Throw in some crazy escapades with Longevity Monk (a hilarious Wu Jing) and the Bull King (Zhang Chao), and you have one insane riff on the Chinese classic Journey To The West.
If you can take an extremely silly and incoherent plot, then this may be your cup of tea. Otherwise, avoid.