For vocational legitimacy, I do feel a strange obligation to keep up-to-date with any westerns that broach the popular market. Films like Bone Tomahawk and Jane’s Got a Gun escaped my viewing (though not my notice), and I have heard good things about both original entries into the genre.

One that kind of blindsided me was an apparent re-make of The Magnificent Seven, originally a 1960 film directed by John Sturges and starring Lee Marvin and Steve McQueen (and Eli Wallach and Yul Brynner).  I’m sure I had heard about the remake at some point, but I dismissed it because, it seems, every cultural tentpole seems to have an announced remake in the works (I’m surprised that a Bullitt remake hasn’t been announced). But an official teaser trailer––or as I like to call it, a trailer, because semantics are exhausting––has been dropped on us that convincingly declares that this remake that is indeed happening.

I must disclose that, in the case of movies, I am not a curmudgeon. Though I have movies that mean a lot to me, I don’t hold them sacred. A remake doesn’t, through some weird retroactive cultural osmosis, “ruin” the original or, at the very least, compromise it. Don’t forget that I am a Transformers fan, and I accept that there exists the Michael Bay movies alongside the original cartoons that I love so much. One has not been erased nor invalidated by the more recent entries (though the definition of Transformers may be changing, which disheartens me). There are the movies as well as the cartoons, and I live happily in the in-between. Such is the case with any adaptation. Especially as a person who identifies as a nerdy individual, I have grown tired of pre-judging––and post-judging––media which has been adapted from previous iterations or other media.

Truth be told, I haven’t seen the original The Magnificent Seven. Perhaps that’s a sin from a guy who is making a western comic. Part of what mediates, perhaps, my aghast heresy of this trailer is that I am quite familiar with the film The Magnificent Seven was adapted from, Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai from 1954. Similarly, my declared and subjective “favorite film of all time” is Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo, which was, of course, adapted (illegally, as it turns out) into Sergio Leone’s A Fistful of Dollars. So, I hold no particular awe nor reverence toward the John Sturges film if only because I have seen the original it was adapted from. Perspective is a key ingredient in the consumption of popular culture and it took me awhile to realize it.

What I do like about the trailer is that it adheres to the spirit of Seven Samurai (which, if you have about three hours to kill, give it a shot––it holds up pretty well for being a black and white samurai film in Japanese) in that the seven are very diverse in terms of character, speciality, and focus. In a way, it feels a little bit like a cartoon or video game where there is no overlap between characters; each one fills a narrative or, at the very least, thematic need as well as having something cool and unique about them. Surely, by the time this movie is released we’ll be talking about the “machine gun guy” or the “indian guy” or the “upstart kid” or the “moral high-ground leader.” It’s what made that original Japanese movie so important in addition to being what makes it most outdated in a modern setting. I’m not saying that it created that idea where each character not only has a unique thematic purpose but also has a unique, marketable quality (in terms of merchandising; a bad but equitable example of this can be seen in the historically atrocious film, King Arthur, led by Clive Owen and Keira Knightley, not that King Arthur has any historical validity in the first place, but still), that makes the group seem less like a gathering of inscrutable gunslingers and more like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. There is no doubt that Seven Samurai is, at least, an early example of it.

A drawing I did while re-watching Seven Samurai back in '01 or '02, based on the moral high-ground leader of the group.

A drawing I did while re-watching Seven Samurai back in ’01 or ’02, based on the character, Kambei Shimada, the moral high-ground leader of the group.

No matter what, I’m intrigued. I like Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt and I would like to see them both in a western. Lucky for me, they get to be in the same one––it’s like Silverado all over again. I also like––or would like to like––a number of the other cast in the movie. However, it is a story we’ve seen before, whether in the original context or the dozens of interpretations and dilutions we’ve seen since then. And this will just be another one of them, for better or for worse. At the very least––and this is increasingly become the most important criterion for my movie-going experience––it looks fun.