5 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Seven Samurai Review


It’s time to look at a classic film that came out all the way back in 1954. People will remember that year as the Godzilla debut but this film also made some waves as well. It would later inspire other big films like The Magnificent Seven which grabbed this formula and improved upon it. Seven Samurai is a film with a decent premise but one that drags on quite a lot with padding being thrown in for most scenes. This film would have benefited from cutting out around 90-120 minutes and would have resulted in a movie with tighter pacing and a more engaging story. As it stands, it’s a reasonable movie if you really like the old samurai setting but otherwise I would highly advise checking out The Magnificent Seven instead.

The movie starts off with the villagers wondering what they should do. A group of bandits show up every year and steal all of their food and crops. If they strike again these guys probably won’t be able to survive. Some of them think they should just roll over and die while others think they should fight. They reach out to the village elder and he tells them to recruit some Samurai. It’ll be tough because they have no money and almost no food but it’s their best option. They manage to reach out to one samurai named Kambei for help. He tells them that they will need 7 Samurai in able to pull this off. Gradually they locate the rest of the samurai and head to the village to get ready to fight the Bandits. Will this group of fighters really be enough to take down the villains or are they all marching towards their graves?

So the main problem with this film is really the length. It’s well over 3 hours and you need to have a pretty good excuse to make your film that long. Very few films have gone for such a length because it’s so difficult. A lot of big blockbusters nowadays could easily stretch themselves out to 3 hours and you could see it working well like Mission Impossible, Avengers, Batman V Superman, etc but even those usually end up cutting content to stay under the 3. 3 hours is just a very long time and you have to have dynamite characters and a great story or it will inevitably drag out. So I always say that having a long runtime is not necessarily a good or a bad thing. All theatrical films should aim to at least be 2 hours but if they really know that they don’t have enough story for it than cutting it down to a shorter length is fine. That’s really what Seven Samurai should have done because the plot isn’t built for 3 hours.

What I described above is really the main plot. It’s very direct and you don’t need a lot of time for it. As a result we get a ton of what I’d call filler scenes. Characters just walking around, making faces, laughing with the locals, etc. There are so many scenes here that could have been cut entirely and other scenes that could have been trimmed down. You could definitely make this roughly a 90 minute film while keeping in all of the key scenes. It’s what the movie should have done because it’s not as if it does many things wrong. My negatives with the film are rather brief other than the length. It just made the film rather boring at times and you would often be waiting for the film to get to the next moment.

Another issue here is really that there wasn’t much of a villain. None of the bandits are given any real character development. They have absolutely no presence in the story and you would be hard pressed to remember any of their names if they even got any. This is a problem because that makes this a samurai film with no real fight scenes. There are general action scenes where the two forces collide, but there is no true battle scene where the heroes use their blades in battle. Every “fight” is just a one and done slice that ends the match in an instant. I would have liked to have seen some actual fights here as that would have made the film a whole lot more exciting.

Seven Samurai also goes out of its way to make the villagers really unlikable. You have one subplot where the father forces the daughter to cut off her hair and physically attacks her when she gets together with one of the samurai. Nobody does anything about this and it makes the samurai look pretty bad for just watching the whole time. I’d have liked at least one character to have stepped in and totally put a stop to it. At the end of the day they yell at the guy a bit but don’t do much more than that. That ties in a bit to the characters angle.

From the main characters the only real solid one was the quiet samurai who is really good at fighting. He murdered his first opponent after being forced into a fight and from there he took down a bunch of other enemies. He is definitely treated as the most powerful samurai in the film and that is pretty clear after his initial scenes. The others are strong enough I suppose as they all contribute. Kambei is also a reasonably solid lead and is good at making the plans. We don’t really get to see him fight much but you know that he is skilled.

How much you enjoy the film will probably also depend on how you enjoy the setting. This is taking place in very old times of course so don’t expect to see any sleek buildings or a modern Tokyo/NYC type environment. The characters are struggling to survive in a poor setting so everything can be pretty muddy and desolate. You definitely feel the desperation in all of the characters here since they’re about to fight in a life or death battle and the people they’re protecting don’t even trust them. It really puts the Samurai in a tough spot.

I’d say the best part of the film is the soundtrack. It can be a little overly dramatic for the scenes that are playing but I think a good soundtrack works even if it is misplaced. For example, a cool rock song will sound just as awesome whether it’s played during an emotional scene or a battle moment. So either way I liked the classic opera theme that would play when the characters were thinking. It was like a subtle darkness approaching kind of message. This theme shows up quite a lot and I was always happy to see it appear.

Overall, Seven Samurai is a decent film but one that is incredibly dragged out and is best to watch in short batches. The writing is okay and the film would have been greatly improved with some more action scenes and more interesting characters. With all the time we had I think you could have developed all of them with more personality. I’d like to see some in-fighting and that would have been a good way to accomplish both goals at once. Ultimately I don’t think you’ll remember most of the characters much after finishing this one but at long as you have one standout character that’ll help. So check this one out if you want to see a classic team up film but otherwise you can just jump ahead in time and check out a different title.

Overall 5/10

8 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

The Magnificent Seven Review


It’s time to take a look at a classic western from a while back. The Magnificent Seven is known as one of the all time great westerns and I can see why. It may even rank up there as my favorite one in the genre as at the moment it beats all of the others that I can think of. The fights are very good and I liked seeing the team get former Avengers style. This is a movie that has held up quite well.

The film starts with a village getting harassed and robbed by a group of bandits. They show up every year to steal all of the crops, livestock, and possessions that the village has. The village is fed up with this but they don’t know what they can do against such foes. 3 farmers head off into town to find some good guns to buy and see two impressive gunmen. The farmers ask one of them for help and the guy agrees to do so. Furthermore he will look for 6 more so the 7 of them can team up against the bandits. They will wait at the village until the villains arrive. The odds aren’t great at 40-7 but each of these 7 is worth a full squad.

One of the best aspects of this film is how it takes time during each aspect of the plot so you really get to know all of the characters. Each member gets a full introduction scene where you immediately get a feel for what kind of person the character is. The first two to be introduced are the two most important characters, Chris and Vin. They manage to survive an onslaught of villagers so that someone who died can be buried. The village hadn’t let him be buried earlier because the town was quite racist back in these days so the heroes showed them what was up. Another gunman is introduced as the quickest shot in the west who just wants to better himself. Another one is hard on money, one’s a fugitive, etc. Each of these shooters is given quite a lot of hype in their debut appearance.

Then you’ve got Chico who isn’t a pro like the others, but he really wants to be acknowledged as one of the more powerful fighters. He gets humiliated by Chris early on but doesn’t let that get to him. As the film goes on he shows more and more why he can be relied upon as well. By the end of the film I’d say he probably isn’t even the weakest member. He’s probably be around 5th place out of the 7. Not amazing or anything, but considering how young he is that’s pretty good.

The writing in the film is definitely on point. We get a lot of snappy dialogue and all of the characters are written well to be realistic and professional at all times. They’re just fun/charismatic characters to have around. The pacing of the film is great as I mentioned as well. I also enjoyed the gun fights. They last for a while but there is always something happening so I wouldn’t say that they dragged on at any point. If I have one complaint, it’s that the 7 should have done a little better based on how good they all were individually. It felt like they were mowing the villains down but by the end they were still heavily outnumbered.

The film also did stretch your disbelief a bit towards the end. The main villain captures all of the heroes and instead of shooting them all he spares them all…and gives them back their guns. Naturally the heroes return and slaughter all of the villains so it makes you wonder…why would the villain do this? It made no sense. The villain tries to justify this by saying that if he murdered them it’d be more work but I can’t buy that. He was prepared to murder them just a few minutes earlier. It was not a smart play and it felt like the writers had written themselves into a hole and took this as their quick out. If you ask me it’s not a situation you should put the heroes in. The villain deciding to spare everyone is usually pretty cheesy as it is. Giving them back their weapons is a whole other level of this.

The ending is definitely pretty emotional though as the body count gets quite high. It’s a pretty ambitious ending as you can’t always have everyone make it out in one piece. This is the realistic outcome of a big war type event. You can tell that this kind of film really doesn’t need a sequel. It got a few anyway but this film works quite well as a stand alone. It’s long and so there is a lot of content here. Everyone has a satisfying character arc to go through as well.

Chris was my favorite character. He’s just a solid leader in general. He’s all business and a great shot. While the film hints that he may not be the best shot out of the 7, he’s certainly one of the best. His partner Vin was also very likable. He was the first person to aid Chris in his quest and was also pretty fearless. While Chico had a rough start with getting drunk and all, he did prove himself by the end of the film. With him to protect the village you figure they would be safe from now on….in theory.

Harry’s the worst member of the 7. Not only are his skills not all that impressive but he’s only here for the money and doesn’t seem to care about anything else. I wouldn’t trust him at all. Bernardo probably gets one of the smaller roles in the film but he was a likable guy. He was sure to protect the kids to the end and seemed to quietly be quite a good shot as well. Britt was the most impressive marksman to me thanks to his quick draw skills. The guy could hit someone from a very long distance and was also good with a knife. Finally you have Lee who was more in line with Harry. Based on his intro I was expecting a whole lot out of Lee and he really didn’t live up to any of his potential. Even by the end I wasn’t really sold on his character. So I really liked 5/7 of the gunmen with the other 2 being fairly weak in comparison.

As always though the villagers were the most annoying characters. It seems like in every wild west film it’s a given that they will betray the leads at some point. They want to give up halfway which is the worst time to give up. Don’t they realize that this will just make the enemies go at them even harder? They try to say that the villains won’t hurt them if they give up quietly but we know this isn’t the case. They’ve already been harming the village from the start and it would only get worse. These guys lack any real intelligence at times like this. The only good ones were the village elder and the main 3 guys. The girl at the end of the film was also good. The rest of the men would just hide when the villains showed up and cracked pretty quickly so I can’t say that they ranked.

Overall, The Magnificent Seven was quite impressive. The horses managed to live through the fights which is usually my worry with the genre and in general the film avoided making any key mistakes. It wasn’t gritty and the characters were actually quite solid. This is definitely the gold standard for westerns and if you haven’t watched this film yet then you should definitely change that. It’s going to be very difficult for the sequels to quite match up to this one.

Overall 8/10