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Why We Don’t Run Movie Reviews Any More

Sep 25, 16 • Movie Reviews1 CommentRead More »

BadgerI think I have officially hit movie burnout. It was Date Night last night, so the Mrs. and I went out for dinner and a show. The show in question was the latest remake of The Magnificent Seven, for the very good reason that the Mrs. adores Chris Pratt and will watch anything in which he stars.

And maybe that’s the problem with this movie: Chris Pratt Overload. Or maybe that’s why I have so much trouble rebooting the Badger & Vole Review series: aside from the not insignificant challenge of talking Vole into doing it again, perhaps I’ve just plain seen too many movies. When I sat down to write this review, I suddenly developed a terrible sense of déjà vu, which led me to take a quick look at—yes, I could just take our 2013 review of The Lone Ranger, make a few substitutions, mainly replacing “Johnny Depp” with “Chris Pratt” and the “Transcontinental Railroad Corporation” with “Bartholomew Bogue Mining Company,” and fill in the rest from boilerplate.

Perhaps that’s the secret to being a successful movie reviewer: having the ability to choke down the same old dog food every day and write the same review over and over, and yet still be grateful that you’re being paid to watch movies instead of having to work at a real job.

Or perhaps I’m simply too old, too jaded, and have seen too many movies to properly appreciate this one for its own merits. So let’s cut to the catalog of faults.

• If you have a high regard for the 1960 version of The Magnificent Seven, skip this one. This version is only four minutes longer than the 1960 version, and yet it seems much longer, mostly because the filmmakers apparently decided to jettison all the character and plot development and concentrate on more, longer, and bloodier gunfights. The body-count in this one is right up there with Expendables 3.

• If you’re a fan of Blazing Saddles, skip this one, as otherwise you’ll find yourself muttering lines from Blazing Saddles while you watch; especially whenever Peter Sarsgaard is on-screen, playing boss monster chief villain Bartholomew Bogue as if he’s stopping just one thin notch short of channeling for the late Harvey Korman playing Hedley Lamarr. Remember, the threatened town in this one is Rose Creek, not Rock Ridge, and the oppressed workers are miners, not railroad track-layers. Big differences.

• If you’re a fan of the Marvel superhero movies, skip this one, as otherwise you’ll spend the movie looking for inadvertent cross-references to The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy—and finding them. Oh yes, you’ll find them.

• Finally, if you’ve ever had the misfortune of living through seven successive rewrites of the Wild Wild West script, each one worse than the one before, skip this one, as you’ll keep seeing bits of business and hearing lines of dialog that were rejected from different versions of that turkey. Which leads one to wonder: is this simply an unconscious side-effect of people in Hollywood only paying attention to each other’s work, or is there actually some sort of alien hive mind buried in the Hollywood hills and in control of the film industry?

But other than that: it’s a great movie. And Chris Pratt is charming and gets all the best lines. And it does star Denzel Washington, not Will Smith, which is a distinct plus.

One Response to Why We Don’t Run Movie Reviews Any More

  1. Bruce Bethke says:

    To answer the question: yes, there have been some good recent westerns. (Depending on how far you’re willing to stretch the word “recent.”) Silverado tops my list, or perhaps shares top billing with Unforgiven. Pale Rider is also right up there, provided you don’t consider it just a remake of Shane.

    The Russell Crowe remake of 3:10 to Yuma? Nah, not so much. Go watch the original Glenn Ford version instead, as it seems to stick closer to the original Elmore Leonard story. Elmore Leonard was a genius. If you want to learn how to write great lowlife characters and twisty “didn’t see that coming” plots, go read Elmore Leonard.

    As for Wild Wild West: the original Wilson & Maddock script was very good, and that’s what got me onboard. Unfortunately, the project then became a Warner Bros. / Peters Entertainment property, and as best I can tell it was taken over by people who *hated* westerns and western heroes and grew up wanting to do horrible things to them.

    This seems to be the point of inception for a lot of remakes, reboots, and late-arriving sequels in recent years, Terminator: Genisys probably being one of the worst of the worst. Someone grew up hating the original and yearning for the day when he or she might gain control of the intellectual property in order to do horrible things to it.

    It’s either that, or like that moron who destroyed Martinez’s “Ecce Homo,” the imbeciles honestly believe they’re improving it.