Blu-ray Review: THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN

MGM/Fox Home Entertainment
Release date: August 2, 2011
MSRP:  $16.99

Once upon a time, there was a legendary Japanese filmmaker named Akira Kurosawa. He made many great films, including one called Seven Samurai. Hollywood looked to the land of the Rising Sun, liked what they saw and decided to make their own versions of some of Kurosawa’s films.

THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN is one of those films and I can’t imagine it being done better.

When a ruthless bandit named Calvera (Eli Wallach) terrorizes a small Mexican village, the townfolk seek out some gunslingers to protect them. The pay is small and the risks are great, but stumble across Chris (Yul Brynner) amd Vin (Steve McQueen), a pair of tough men with a willingness to help the underdog. The pair assemble a group consisting of Britt (James Coburn), Bernardo (Charles Bronson) Lee (Robert Vaughn), Harry (Brad Dexter) and Chico (Horst Buchholz) and head south to help the villagers.

Now it this like your basic action flick, but it is much more than that. The acting is good, especially that of McQueen, who seems to have had strong chemistry with Yul. Bronson and Coburn also deliver some of the best performances of their careers.

But the film is also elevated by a fun, smart script. There is plenty of action, but also sweet, touching scenes where the village happily embrace these strangers and offer them what little food they have. On one scene, a local boy respects the gunfighters and expresses disgust towards his own father.

Village Boy 2: We’re ashamed to live here. Our fathers are cowards.

O’Reilly (Charles Bronson): Don’t you ever say that again about your fathers, because they are not cowards. You think I am brave because I carry a gun; well, your fathers are much braver because they carry responsibility, for you, your brothers, your sisters, and your mothers. And this responsibility is like a big rock that weighs a ton. It bends and it twists them until finally it buries them under the ground. And there’s nobody says they have to do this. They do it because they love you, and because they want to. I have never had this kind of courage. Running a farm, working like a mule every day with no guarantee anything will ever come of it. This is bravery. That’s why I never even started anything like that… that’s why I never will.

The dialogue is everything it needs to be: fun, tough and touching. The screenplay does a nice balancing act with all of those things and that keeps it from being a simple genre flick.

Video: TM7 is presented with a 1080p MPEG-4 AVC with a ratio of 2.35:1. While it does not appear that any major restoration was done, the film looks nice. The colors are nice, the fleshtones are good and the black levels are sharp. There is some grain present, but that is to be expected from a film this old. Had they attempted to clean all of it up, I think the DNR would have made it look worse, rather than better. And with the film having a dirty, dusty look, a little grain is just fine.

Audio: Sound is delivered with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless track. To be honest, I don’t know that this film needs that much audio firepower, but it does sound very good. There are some night scenes in which the clicks, chirps and whistles of the night come accross very well. It sounds great, just don’t excpect any directional fireworks.

Without a doubt, The Magificent Seven is classic and one of the rare occasions where a remake does the original justice. For many reading this, the question is wether or not it is worth upgrading to HD. The transfer is quite good and and I don’t think that anyone that purchases it will be disappointed. The movie truly is a must-own and if you do not have a copy in your film library, this is an excellent excuse to snag a copy.

Jeremy Lynch