Making a new movie out of an old one is a tricky business. It’s not something that should be done lightly. Do so and the results could be catastrophic! Like the new Ben-Hur which plainly sucks balls. Take the necessary caution and you might end up with a product that might revel its predecessor.
Welcome to class ‘Hollywood’ 101! Here are 7 easy steps to follow if one wishes to remake an old movie …
Lesson #1: A remake for money = a bad idea!
First ask yourself: ‘Why do I wanna make a remake?’
If you can’t answer that question immediately, go find something else to do with your time! It means: you’re probably rehashing a good old idea for the purpose of money. Such projects almost always sink to the bottom of the ocean upon their release. Psycho, RoboCop and Total remake … err … Total recall are some of the worst ideas being greenlit by Hollywood. They don’t even come close to the original movie (which is almost always a classic) and the new movie brings nothing new to the table … nothing!
If you wanna do a remake … do it like The magnificent seven. Copy the old story but insert new ideas, new plot changes, new characters and enough differences with the original movie, so that any comparison falls flat on its face. A good remake should ‘feel’ like an entire new movie!
Lesson #2: Which actors to choose?
In order for your remake to be successful, casting the right actor has to be downright pitch-perfect! Any wrong casting and your movie will lack confidence.
Start with an Oscar-winning lead for the main part (Denzel Washington).
Then add a fan-favorite for the second-in-command, preferably an actor who’s only just started his career in Hollywood (Chris Pratt).
You also might think of including a beautiful woman, despite The magnificent seven being an obvious rough-‘n’-tough man fest (Haley Bennett).
Don’t forget to include a genuinely great method-actor to spice up the story a bit (Vincent D’Onofrio).
The other parts are less important, but still irrelevant. Be sure to add a new face (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), a has-been who’s still around and good enough to use in less vital roles (Ethan Hawke), a European guy who can fill in the bad guy with the distasteful grin (Peter Sarsgaard) and someone who looks completely different from anyone else (Byung-hun Lee).
The more talent you gather – mind you: not fame but talent! – the easier your movie will draw in huge crowds.
Lesson#3: Every character supports the story!
One of the reasons why the 1960 classic of the same name is somehow forgotten these days is because the casting only features white-trash cowboys. No blacks, no Indians, no Mexicans. Just Caucasian pawns in a chess game that’s too white to be right. Choose your characters carefully … and for God’s sake … add some color, baby!
Why not make the lead guy a black man? There aren’t many black cowboys to begin with, and to gear up your movie with an African-American hero in an otherwise mostly white community – that’s a sure-fire thing to turn a few heads, I’ll say!
You most-def. need a loudmouth to spew some jokes along the way. This is after all a big Hollywood-blockbuster and no million dollar movie should be without a certain amount of humor.
Add some color in the mix! The magnificent seven, the new that is, doesn’t make the same mistake as the old one. This time you have an Indian (awesome gig from actor Martin Sensmeier who – believe it when you see it! – actually has Indian roots), there’s a wild Chinaman running around (okay, in all fairness, he’s from South Korea) and you also have a Mexican who isn’t afraid to throw in some Spanish lines.
The casting is without a doubt MUCH better than the ’60s original (which isn’t really original, as it’s a remake from the 1954 Japanese überclassic Shichinin no samurai, so this movie right here is actually a remake of a remake.)
Lesson #4: Serve me up with some action, please!
There’s no denying that the new The magnificent seven is the most expensive from all three movies. Japan never spends as much money as America on making movies, and back in the 1960’s a million dollars was different from what it means today.
Granted, the movie looks goooood! The action is in one word: overwhelming! The storm-shooting near the end is truly breath-gasping and a thrilling contest of of life & death! You actually fear for the lives of the villagers, not to mention your favorite heroes who fight off an army.
Also original is how not everyone uses guns and/or rifles. That is also different from the 1960’s classic. Not only is the action bigger and better … it’s also more fleshed out. You have guys throwing knives and daggers. You have a big, strong man who takes down a man and the horse he’s sitting on. You have dynamite! You have explosions! You have chaos in the town the flying deadly arrows shot with pristine precision by the Indian on the roof! You have a girl who rides shotgun (literally!) and there’s even a good old punch in the face …
Of course bullets are buzzing around, as this is a Western shoot-out after all! Most men are packed and there’s some awful lotta shootin’ in the gallery, folks!
Lesson #5: Only a good story makes for a good movie!
It’s true that the new movie follows the old one – and steals some pointers of the Japanese original – but in retrospect, there is still much to be had story-wise.
The script not only includes new blood – both Mexican, Asian and Indian – but the way things are set up is also slightly different from either one of the original movies. Along the way, the bad guy behaves different and makes different choices.
There’s a mega-weapon used near the end (I won’t spoil which one!) and the girl plays a far bigger role in the movie than the girl of the 60’s did (back then: women were weak and in much need of rescue by strong men … nowadays the scene of women in movies has shifted – thank God! – and Lara Croft-powergirls are popping up everywhere).
The tension is also well set. You never deem it natural that your heroes will shoot out of any and all situations. They get themselves into some serious trouble … exciting stuff to watch!
Lesson #6: Magic of the scenery …
Dealing with the Old West gives you a great opportunity to fancy some long John Ford-shots issued by the most awesome cinematography!
What does that mean? Simple. The entire movies plays out against a beautiful scenery of nature. Horses are running around in the grassland. And you can establish the most fascinating sunset or simply shoot a scene from a great distance where the horizon becomes a mix of the green grass touching the blue sky broken by milky white clouds.
Some of the cinematography is simply stunning!
And you need to see this movie on the big screen …
Director of the movie Antoine Fuqua delivers one of his finest films ever, as previously he only seemed good enough to make stereotype action movies, like Training Day or Olympus Has Fallen. Congrats sir!
Lesson #7: Every movies has flaws … well almost!
Never mind that your movie is flawed. This is no Godfather or Memento. This is no groundbreaking cinema! There is no Oscar-worthy acting in this movie. And the action itself, while fun to look at, is hardly the stuff of dreams. Even the story, though it’s a well-written script, doesn’t give us anything cutting-edge.
It’s okay when your movie is just okay … if your movie is just there for entertainment purposes … and not to break any new ground.
Besides, whatever flaws your movie may/may not have – it’s too late to change ’em. So learn to live with them …
The magnificent seven is flawed, so what? It’s one of the best remakes in recent times, I’ll tell ya that much!
—> So you see, making a remake isn’t just as easily as penning down a new story. You really wanna stay as far away as possible from the previous entries without alluding yourself that this is in fact a rehashing of old material.
p.s.: Did you see it or not? The letters in red form the word ‘awesome” (I wanted to make magnificent but it was too long, so I took a shorter synonym.)
did you know?
This is Denzel Washington’s first Western film.
Give it to me straight:
The magnificent seven is a wonderful remake. It respects the Japanese and American originals from the 1950’s and the 1960’s … but still finds the time and energy to come up with something new. The casting is the best yet with some color in it (finally!) as the Japanese was full of, well, Japanese actors and the original American movie was paled by an all-Caucasian cast! This new one adds a Mexican, an Indian and even a South Korean guy, the last one who makes terrific super-fast Bruce Lee movements whilst throwing around razor-sharp daggers! Fascinating stuff, no?
The story is also interesting as it strays away (sometimes, that is) from the original ones. Especially the female who calls out for help does get to play in the sandbox with the 7 magnificent heroes.
Finally, there’s the beautiful cinematography of the scenery and the skilfully chosen actors to perform on screen that makes this version of The magnificent seven one of the best … and quite frankly a heck of a lot more entertaining to watch than the dreary 1960’s movie …
Hey guess what? This movie is not just *any* remake – it’s magnificent!