Magnificent 7 – Box Office Review

There’s plenty of films being remade or rebooted currently in theaters. Some of these retellings are done well, as we’d hope. Some leave us wondering why film studios would even bother remaking the movie at all (cough, Ben Hur, cough, cough). The fact is, films are getting a fresh look by modern story tellers and because of that I bring my thoughts on the remake, “Magnificent 7’ in this box office review…

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Director Antoine Fuqua continues to make entertaining action films along with his muse Denzel Washington. The director/actor relationship between these two seem to work and fortunately for us they continue to make movies together. After seeing of few of his movies, I now know what to expect before walking into the theater. I wasn’t disappointed at all by the grittiness, violence or tone of this movie. I anticipate this style of story telling from him and, for the most part, I enjoy his approach to movie making. I was a bit put off by the initial monologue of the villain, played by Peter Sarsgaard. I enjoy westerns and period pieces when told well. I doubt highly though, in a wild west town the main villain would give a speech about “capitalism” and refer to it by such a name. I felt that this aspect of the monologue was a bit too on the nose with recent events for a period piece set in the wild wild west.

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The violence in this film was everything I wanted from a western. Gun play, knife throwing, arrows being shot into people, fists to faces, horse riding tricks and even a gatling gun are part of this action packed onscreen adventure. I was not in the slightest disappointed with this aspect of the movie. I loved all the fighting, explosions and casualties. It was great fun and one of the most entertaining westerns I’ve seen in awhile.

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Magnificent 7” is in theaters now! If you’re a fan of the original, which I just re-watched before writing this review, you’ll appreciate the similarities but could be put off by some of the differences. Probably the most altering difference was the ending. The original lends itself to a more touching conclusion. The remake is pretty straight forward in that it’s action, action, action, and now it’s over. If you’ve never seen the original, check it out one Sunday afternoon while sitting at home on the couch. Another difference was the language used in each film. The original is bit cleaner and less racist. However, both are entertaining films and I recommend you get off the couch and get into the theater to see this remake.

Denzel Washington;Chris Pratt;Ethan Hawke;Byung-hun Lee;Vincent D Onofrio;Manuel Garcia-Rulfo;Martin Sensmeier

Hell or High Water – Box Office Review

I will continue to say that genre isn’t as important as story. It doesn’t matter if the story is Fantasy, Action, Science Fiction or in this particular case, a Western as long as the story is good. Movie goers want a story that will allow them to experience feelings and take their minds to a make believe world for an hour and twenty minutes or more. So let’s take a look at my thoughts of “Hell or High Water” in this box office review…

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This film is a modern day western with an attempt at adding a Robin Hood theme to it. I say attempt because the bank robbers aren’t giving the money to the poor, they’re just trying to creatively help their family using stolen money and established investment practices. The methods and tactics are well thought out and we are led to believe that people would be ok with bank robbery if they benefited from it because after all, banks are robbing the average man anyway. So in this story, I suppose, turn about is fair play, to a point.

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The cast in this film is dynamic. We have Jeff Bridges (who basically is playing the character he played in “True Grit”), Chris Pine and Ben Foster. The surprise performance for me was Chris Pine. I wasn’t sure how much I’d enjoy his performance but his character develops nicely throughout the film and by the end we are seeing a different man than when the film started which was exactly what needed to happen. Ben Foster I am a huge fan of. Most people don’t remember his name but they do remember his face. He’s an actor that everyone asks “Who?” then when they see his face usually respond with “Oh, I love that guy! He was in…(insert any number of films).” He has so far always elevated the enjoyment of the films he’s in that I’ve seen. He’s an incredible supporting actor that only makes those he’s sharing screen time with better. This film is no exception. He really helps bring out the best in Chris Pine and adds a new dimension to his character that we might not otherwise get to experience. Foster’s character knows exactly who he is and acts his part to excellence all the way to the end of the film.

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Hell or High Water” is in theaters now! If you don’t mind some social commentary on the banking industry this film is definitely worth seeing on the big screen. If you hate banks you’ll appreciate this film even more and should probably see it twice just because. If you enjoy Westerns this is also a very entertaining modern version. It’s got some short comings in dialogue and some slower moments in the 2nd act but overall this was an enjoyable film.

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The Hateful 8 – Box Office Review

Quentin Tarantino continues to thrive where violence, racism and character development are key to story telling. “The Hateful Eight” is a western that attempts to bring a sense of mystery into a story driven primarily by dialogue and the characters present on screen. It’s a lengthy film that makes zero apologies for moving at a more relaxed tempo. If long movies are key to you feeling like your money was well spent, it’s well spent on this movie.

Overall, the characters in this story were engaging and for different reasons entirely. It is always good story telling to have 2 or more people on screen and they each depict unique personalities, driven by individual needs/circumstances. The story might require characters to share a common interest, temporarily, as this film does, but eventually those unique backgrounds drive the characters forward. The story develops nicely and by the end of the film it’s clear that this film shares the concept of Greek Tragedy over Comedy.

There was one character in particular I wasn’t clear on. The actor is listed in the opening sequence which implies he is important but he doesn’t appear until the 3rd act of the film. It’s at this point he also proves to serve as a plot device more than an actual character and he clears up some of the questions that were in my mind as I watched the film. So, it’s unclear whether this individual character was actually a character for the story or a MacGuffin.

The run time on this film was excessive in my opinion. Delivering the finale at 167 minutes (almost 3 hours) the film could’ve been 30 to 45 minutes less and I would’ve enjoyed it more. I don’t need to see characters walking back and forth on screen to drop things off if it does nothing to help move the plot along or develop characters. There was a great deal of screen time spent on things that could have easily been cut to make the speed of the film more entertaining.

“The Hateful Eight” is in theaters now! I give this film 3 out of 6 bullets required for a  cowboy six shooter. If you enjoy Tarantino films you might appreciate this latest addition to his filmography. I’m not sold on recommending a theater viewing for this film but certainly a Redbox pick up wouldn’t hurt. The characters are rich and developed but the story is time consuming.

Comment below if you’ve already seen it and share your thoughts! Join in on the fun of movie watching and share this post with anyone who you feel would enjoy another one of my Box Office Reviews.

The Good Dinosaur: Box Office Review

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When Pixar announces they are making a new film there’s a certain level of excitement that happens. They have built a reputation for emotionally moving, entertaining and thought provoking animated films that probably make Shel Silverstein jealous. Unfortunately, nobody has a career of home runs. Michael Jordan missed some shots during his career. Even Tom Brady throws an interception from time to time and that’s what I felt walking out of “The Good Dinosaur” this weekend. Pixar tried and failed to meet the level of excellence I have come to expect from their films.

The film opens with a “what if” scenario. What if a comet didn’t strike the earth and eliminate all the dinosaurs? Well, in theory, it’s plausible that dinosaurs and prehistoric man would co-exist, however briefly. This is a solid concept for story telling because it allows the viewer the chance to understand immediately what world we are about to enter. A world where dinosaurs and man co-exist on a prehistoric earth. That’s where it felt like the thinking stopped and the questionable took over.

The creative team behind this film decided that the dinosaurs would all sound like they belonged in a western film. So, the main dinosaur family sounds like cowboy farmers, the pterodactyls sound like stage coach or train robbing buffoons, and the Tyyannosaurus Rex family, led by Sam Elliott, really took the western cowboy rancher sound to the extreme. An odd choice, but they made a decision and stuck it… but they didn’t. For some reason, while every other dinosaur character sounds like a cowboy, the main dinosaur sounds like a normal city kid. Apparently accents aren’t hereditary and dinosaurs are born sounding western, except for one. This is not a learned accent. It’s a birthright and the lead character did not have this pattern of speech even though his family did. Bizarre.

The story is a coming of age tale for the young dinosaur. He must become a grown up dinosaur and face his fears head on. This film details the crucible that he must endure if he is ever to find his family again. He won’t do this alone either. He’ll have a trusty side kick human who acts like a dog. At one point the dinosaur and the kid get stoned on berries and the audience is treated to a weird drug trip montage which felt wildly out of place in a Pixar movie. This film felt like that scene in the movie “Elf” where they ship the children’s book that didn’t make sense because they didn’t want to go back and start over with a story that worked.

Then the ending, the dinosaur finds a family of humans for the kid before he heads back to his farm with the surviving family members that didn’t die (it’s Pixar, someone always dies). I thought maybe we’d have a scene where the kid finds the dinosaur and his family and both families live on the farm and it’s all happily ever after. Nope. The kid goes off with his adopted human family and the dinosaur finds his family on the farm. So, the moral of the story is, have fun with strangers but don’t get too close because you’ll leave them eventually because they’re different? I walked out of that film so confused. The animation looked incredible though. So while I was thoroughly confused I did love how real some of the scenic shots looked.

“The Good Dinosaur” is in theaters now! I give this film the earth destroying comet it deserves so this ridiculous story would not have been made. Let’s leave the dinosaur and human experience to the Jurassic Park franchise. They seem to be back on track finally.

Comment below if you’ve already seen it and share your thoughts! Join in on the fun of movie watching and share this post with anyone who you feel would enjoy another one of my Box Office Reviews.

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