Movie Review: Seven Samurai (1954)

Hello there, and welcome back to Akira Kurosundays! That’s right, every Sunday (unless something comes up in my life) I’ll be talking about a movie from this Kurosawa box set I have. It started last week with “Rashomon”, and it continus today with… this.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Seven Samurai”.

When a poor, defenseless village is threatened by a league of bandits, the villagers decide that they can’t stop them on their own. So they hire seven samurai to help them out with this situation. It’s a simple setup that leads into a surprisingly nuanced narrative that I like a lot. And when I say nuanced I don’t mean that it’s some ultra deep mindbender of a story, but rather that it takes its simple adventure story setup and adds to it with elements of war drama and comedy. It balances a lot of tones on its plate, but I feel like it succeeds wonderfully at all of them. And despite that mastodont of a runtime, it moves at a surprisingly fast pace, never really getting boring at any point. It does admittedly threaten to buckle under the weight of its runtime and content thickness at times, but it doesn’t take long for it to then pick itself back up and continue on the path of greatness. Seriously, this is a great samurai story.

The characters in this movie are for the most part pretty interesting. There are the titular swordy boys, all of which are colorful (ironic, given the color palette). They all feel unique to each other and have some interesting dynamics with each other. A few of the villagers are also alright, rounding out the cast nicely. And among the actors you can find people like Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Daisuke Kato, Keiko Tsushima, Isao Kimura, Minoru Chiaki, Seiji Miyaguchi, Yoshio Inaba, and many more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Fumio Hayasaka, and I think he did a really good job with it. His score just works very well in conveying the mood of the various scenes, and even elevating certain parts. When the music needs to be eerie and ominous, it gets eerie and ominous. When it needs to be more on the epic and exciting end, it does that. And when it needs to be a bit more lighthearted and comical, it succeeds at that too. Just like the story, it captures and balances all tones wonderfully while feeling like an engaging and cohesive whole.

As made very clear in the intro, “Seven Samurai” was directed and co-written by Akira Kurosawa. And good god damn, he really knocked it out of the park here. His control of the camera and the actor is simply masterful, giving us direction that creates a wonderful flow from moment to moment, whether it’s in a slower character development scene, or in the action scenes that appear throughout. Speaking of which, those action scenes are excellent. Exciting, tense, fun, and frankly just stunning to look at. It all just comes together spectacularly.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positing rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 98/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.6/10 and is ranked #19 on the “Top 250” list.

So yeah, “Seven Samurai” is terrific, not much else I can say on that. It has a great story, really good characters, great performances, really good music, and excellent directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Seven Samurai” is a 9.76/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Seven Samurai” is now completed.

Seven samurai, many butt cheeks.

Movie Review: The Magnificent Seven (2016)

mag7

Do I really need to say something? My love of westerns has been proclaimed on this blog so many times that it should be burnt into your brains by now. So yeah… let’s review a western.

Ladies and gents… “The Magnificent Seven”!

The town of Rose Creek is being held under the boot of the villainous Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard). So it’s up to a band of badasses led by Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington) to get over there to save the town and stop Bogue. It’s a tale that’s been told a million times. The plot in this movie does nothing new in terms of drama, but I didn’t really mind. You can tell that the plot here wasn’t meant to be an epic masterpiece that would grip us with it’s impressive dramatic heft. It’s just aiming to retell a classic plot for a newer generation without pandering to a certain demographic. And I thought the plot here was realy fun and pretty well realized.

The characters in this movie are all so fun and entertaining. Denzel once again knocked it out of the park, but there was never any doubt about that… it’s Denzel, he’s awesome! Chris Pratt was very likable and fun in his role as this gunslinger who likes card tricks and also being a little bit of a jerk. Ethan Hawke was great as troubled sharpshooter Goodnight Robicheaux (actual name, I love it). Byung-hun Lee played Ethan Hawke’s sidekick/friend and he was really cool in the movie. Manuel Garcia-Rulfo played the outlaw of the gang, Vazquez, and he was really fun. Martin Sensmeier played the native American man Red Harvest, and he was a badass. Then we have Vincent D’Onofrio as the human bear, Jack Horne… how do I put it? He was really over the top… and I fucking loved it. D’Onofrio is an actor who knows how to be over the top in a role in just the right way, and that is exactly what was shown here… and he was awesome. Peter Sarsgaard was just the right amount of slimeball as Bogue, and he did it very well. And Haley Bennett was great as this determined young woman that hires Chisolm to help the town out. Overall, the cast was really good.

The music in this movie went through some interesting developments. It was originally set to be composed by James Horner, who had begun working on it before filming even began. However he sadly passed away before it could be officially finished, so the task was given to Simon Franglen to finish it. And the score for this movie is great. Tense, exciting, fun… perfectly fitting for the movie, really elevating a lot of the scenes. What was also kind of fun was that they played the theme from the original “Magnificent Seven” during the end credits. So you could say that the music in this movie was quite… magnificent (*crickets*). Jokes aside, rest in peace Mr. Horner… you did great and you are missed.

This movie was directed by Antoine Fuqua, a director I’m a bit of a fan of. And he proved once again that he is a really good director. This movie looks terrific, some of the shots actually made me go “Wow!”. Also, the action here is pretty badass. When action is happening in this movie, it is fast-paced, intense, fun, and awesome! There are a few standout moments in this movie, and those moments are two pretty badass shootouts. This movie was also surprisingly violent for PG-13. I’m not saying that there was a ton of blood and gore, but it gets pretty violent for a PG-13 movie. I’m not saying it gets quite as brutal as “Casino Royale”, but it is still pretty violent.

This movie has gotten some pretty good reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 63% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 54/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,0/10.

“The Magnificent Seven” is an incredibly fun western movie. Is it a mindblowing and dramatically impressive film? No, but that was never the point of this film. It has a fun plot, great characters, great performances, great music, great directing, and great action. Time for my final score. *Quick draws envelope*. My final score for “The Magnificent Seven” is a 9,54/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
seal-of-approval

My review of “The Magnificent Seven” is now completed.

More movies like this, please.