4 December 2016

Have Filmmakers Run Out Of Ideas?

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It's easy to say that filmmakers have run out of ideas when screens are full of sequels, remakes, and whatever the fuck piece of shit Batman V Superman was meant to be. In fact, this is something I heard two middle-aged men bitching about the other day and I suppose it's easy to see why. I mean look at what's on right now... Ben Hur and The Magnificent 7? It's like we're into the remake part of the studio named 'Stuff that Dad's might like'. Sadly my Dad is more into drinking himself into an early grave and remaining married to his miserable bitch wife than he is in seeing films, so I ended up going to The Magnificent 7 with a friend instead. I should point out at this point too that as terrible as I'm sure it is to admit, I haven't actually seen the original. Sorry. I guess I'm rarely sat in front of the television on Easter Sunday. It's just one of those things that's been on my 'to do list' for ages along with completing The Wire and either figuring out what the fuck my life is about or finally going through with the car exhaust, hose pipe, window trick.

So this new version of The Magnificent 7 is probably fairly close to the original story in terms of its set-up, I'm guessing. Sorry again that I haven't seen the original. Jesus. I mean, from what I hear, it's not even that brilliant anyway so fuck it- I don't care. But anyway, a small town is being shat all over by a big business man in what can only be a metaphor that's not only relevant to our contemporary times but also to literally any fucking time ever. In an attempt to defend themselves, the town decide to recruit a lone cowboy to help them fight, and presumably because they've seen how many people he took down in Man On Fire, they go for Denzel Washington. He in turn recruits six other blokes to help him because the town is being held hostage by an army and, when fighting an army, six more people clearly make so much fucking difference. Once together, the gang attempt to teach the locals that have hired them some self-defence which will conveniently end just in time for a giant third act battle. Other than Denzel Washington, the film also stars Chris Pratt wearing the exact same clothes that he did in Jurassic World, Ethan Hawke making as much money as he can before his next low-budget movie that's actually good, and a woman that looks a lot like Jennifer Lawrence but that I imagine is a hell of a lot more affordable.

I guess the main question would be 'is this film any good?' After all, if we just had a blanket rule that remakes were a bad thing then we wouldn't have John Carpenter's The Thing, David Cronenberg's The Fly, or the Christmas porno classic Tits A Wonderful Life. And as it turns out, you don't have to have seen the original to have seen this version because it contains literally every Western cliché in the book. You know that bit when the cowboy swings open the Saloon doors and everybody goes quite? Yep. That's here. You know those duels in which two cowboys see who can draw their guns the fastest? Yep. There's here too. In fact the only thing that they didn't have was a woman hogtied to a railway line in order for her to be rescued by the man she'll ultimately fall in love with. I've even heard the fucking soundtrack a thousand times before and I don't mean because the main theme to the original movie is one of the most famous in cinema history. Despite having died fucking yonks ago, James Horner somehow managed to score some of this movie and, surprise surprise, it contains that exact same tune that he's always used. It seemed impressive that he'd have scored an incomplete film over a year before it's release until you realise that as usual he just handed in the exact same piece of music that he did for Troy, Enemy At The Gate, and fucking Avatar.

So right now it's not looking good for filmmakers in terms of its originality and endless supply of fresh ideas, is it? However that's not to say that there's not fun to be had in this film. In fact, I'll come clean now and say that I thought it was alright. I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it. At one point, a character loses hope and rides off before the big battle. Do you think he might come back just in the nick of time to redeem himself and help those that stayed at the exact point that they could do with him returning? This film might be more predictable than a morning bowel movement, however even the most mundane of bowel movements contain a little pleasure. There's some pretty good action in this movie with the lead characters being so fast with their guns hitting numerous targets in such a small space of time that I can only assume that they're also fucking psychic. The actors are all mostly enjoyable too with this being a fun little Training Day reunion between Washington, Hawke, and director Antoine Fuqua. Oh, and I suppose the film deserves praise for its almost colourblind level of casting with the gang of seven consisting of more than just the usual shade of cracker-white. I can't help but feel some warmth towards any film that reminds those psychotically patriotic, white Americans that their country was founded on immigration and that they didn't simply originate there by crawling out of the soil with the 'Stars And Stripes' hanging off their dicks.

If there is an issue here however, it's in how Chris Pratt's character is quite blatantly racist and I'm still meant to give a shit about him as a person. Although he's only racist to people who aren't black or white which just confuses things. What's the point that the film is getting at with him? Essentially he does the same roguish thing that he does in every movie but with the twattish-ness slightly raised to the point that I was hoping he'd die in the final battle. Sadly this was also where the film's shortcomings became obvious as characters did die when squaring off against an army, and in most cases I really couldn't have cared less. Which means, despite being over two hours long, the movie still didn't manage to get me to emotionally invest in any of them. I once battered a school friend because he stamped on a bug I'd just spotted. This therefore means that the film couldn't get me to give the equivalent level of fucks for any of its characters that I once had for a dead bug.. which is sort of a problem.

And speaking of bugs, I suppose this brings me back to the state of filmmakers and their lack of originality. Because although every Dad might be sneering at the fact that this film is just a remake of that western they grew up on, younger people might also notice some similarities to A Bugs Life. I might not have seen Robert Vaughn prance about with Charles Bronson, however I have seen Toshiro Mifune fight an army alongside Takashi Shimura. Hollywood might not have many ideas but it's got as many now as it's ever had as the more cine-literate amongst us will be well aware that the 1960 version of The Magnificent 7 was itself a remake of Kurosawa's 1954 film Seven Samurai. You know we mentioned that a remake of Ben-Hur is out now too? Well this may well be a remake of the 1959 Charlton Heston movie, but even that was just a remake of a 1925 film, which was itself a remake of a 19-0-fucking-7 film. Hollywood is a place in which films are made for money and if you're going to pay for remakes then you're going to fucking get them. If you're not happy with the lack of originality then go and see something else because other films are available. In fact, as this film is showing, there's also another movie out called Swiss Army Man in which Daniel Radcliffe plays a farting corpse that speeds its way through the emotions of life. So yes, I agree that Hollywood will spoon feed you any old shit that you'll lap up but whenever somebody says that, “filmmakers have run out of ideas”, what they're really saying is, “I know fuck all about films”. Thanks for reading, motherfuckers, and see you next time.

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