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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Magnificent Seven is a remake of the classic 1960 Western (which itself was a take on Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai). The biggest issue is the movie's relentless violence: It's not particularly gory, but there's tons of shooting and killing, as well as stabbing and slicing with knives and arrows. Characters are bashed with blunt objects or kicked, bloody wounds are shown, and rape is referenced. Language includes a few uses of "s--t" and "bitch," and more. Sexual content is limited to verbal innuendo/references, though one female character's cleavage is highlighted. Another character is referred to as "drunken," and most characters drink and/or smoke cigarettes or cigars. But teamwork is a strong theme, as is overcoming racial tensions and stereotypes. The titular seven are a diverse bunch, and they work together against difficult odd for the greater good. But the lack of consequences for their violent actions should also be considered (as should the fact that the cast is almost all men).
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What's the story?
In THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, it's 1879, and murderous robber baron Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard) is persecuting the town of Rose Creek, intimidating its simple farmers into giving up their land. When bounty hunter Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington) arrives in town, the newly widowed Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett) begs him to put a stop to Bogue's evildoing. So Chisolm recruits a team of outcasts -- including a quickdraw Irishman (Chris Pratt), a Southern gentleman (Ethan Hawke), a Chinese knife expert (Byung-hun Lee), a Mexican bandit (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), a grizzly bear-like tracker (Vincent D'Onofrio), and a Comanche warrior (Martin Sensmeier). But with only a short time to prepare and Bogue heading up an entire army of gunslingers, can Chisolm's team finish what's been started?
Is it any good?
It's perhaps a bit too noisy and relentlessly violent, but this remake adds a new, multicultural angle to a sturdy old story and looks good doing it. The Magnificent Seven is a Western that's worth re-telling to a younger generation. Re-teaming with Washington for the third time (after Training Day and The Equalizer), director Antoine Fuqua takes inspiration from many classic Westerns, as well as Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai (1954), which is the original source of the story. His sense of rhythm and space is admirable, though he often errs on the side of too much, rather than not enough.
Yet even if Fuqua's direction isn't on par with that of Kurosawa or Western masters like Sam Peckinpah, he effectively uses the language of the genre to underline its strong, simple themes and codes of honor. The movie occasionally acknowledges racial differences and fears but quickly gets the seven on equal footing, and they come to life in entertaining ways. The thundering score (begun by the late James Horner and completed by Simon Franglen) helps, using bits of Elmer Bernstein's legendary music from the 1960 version. The Magnificent Seven has always been, and still is, more crowd-pleaser than great poetry, and that's OK.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about The Magnificent Seven's violence. How does the fact that much of the shooting and killing is bloodless affect its impact? Does exposure to violent media desensitize kids to violence?
Do you consider Bartholomew Bogue a bully? How is he dealt with? What is learned? How else can bullies be handled?
How does the movie deal with the characters' different races and cultures? Does it seem to take a positive, pro-diversity approach? Does that make up for the fact that there are few female characters of note?
- In theaters: September 23, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: December 20, 2016
- Cast: Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke
- Director: Antoine Fuqua
- Studio: Sony Pictures Releasing
- Genre: Western
- Character Strengths: Teamwork
- Run time: 132 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: extended and intense sequences of Western violence, and for historical smoking, some language and suggestive material
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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