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The Magnificent Seven: 50th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24
  • Audio Codec: PCM 2.0 Mono, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: A
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Studio: MGM
  • Blu-ray Release Date: August 2, 2011
  • List Price: $16.99

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Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:3.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:2.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2.5/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG  thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:3.5/5]

Based on Kurosawa’s classic Japanese film, Seven Samurai, The Magnificent Seven features all of the main ingredients of an epic Western: stirring action, bang-bang gun play, an archetypal plot of good versus evil, and a stellar cast. John Sturges’ well-paced direction moves beyond the usual shoot’em up and builds a crescendo of dramatic tension, culminating in the final battle. This film spins the tale of a small Mexican village, terrorized by the villainous Calvera (Eli Wallach), that hires seven gunmen to rid them of this brutal banditry once and for all. What lifts this plot above the typical Western film is the eventual bond forged between the gun fighters and the townspeople. The hired guns read like a who’s who of 1960’s cinematic heroes: Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, Robert Vaughn and James Coburn. The only incongruity here is young Horst Buchholz whose slight but noticeable German accent doesn’t quite fit in. Their synergy is excellent, in true ensemble spirit, and these actors handle the laconic dialogue with aplomb. The Old West backdrop, essential to the atmosphere of this film, receives gorgeous cinematic treatment. Last, but certainly not least, Elmer Bernstein’s heroic and spacious score supports the action perfectly. Surprisingly, the gun-fighting is limited to two encounters between The Seven and their Mexican adversaries.

Video Quality

[Rating:4/5]

Having seen a good number of restored film transfers to Blu-ray discs, I can attest that not all make this transition to high resolution video equally well. Dependent on the quality of the master and transfer technique, some classic movies actually suffer. But this is not the case here. There is some inevitable grain and a bit of washout in the backgrounds, but the detail of the close ups is clear and crisp and the color palette excellent. The cinematography in the gun fight sequences is just about as good as it gets in a Western film.

Audio Quality

[Rating:2.5/5]

The memorable Bernstein score that was recapitulated in the subsequent “Seven” series films adds a great deal to the dramatic tension of this movie. However, like many soundtracks of the era, it is monaural, and while reasonably clear, it lacks the dynamic range expected in a “big” picture.  The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio version adds a little breadth and depth over the 2.0 mono PCM version, but it still falls well short of magnificence.  There are no obvious surround effects in the additional channels. The dialogue channel is clear.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:2.5/5]

While there is certainly some interest in these short subjects, this is still small beans for a 50th Anniversary edition.

  • Commentaries by actors James Coburn, Eli Wallach and Walter Mirsch
  • Featurettes: The Making of the Magnificent Seven; Elmer Bernstein and the Magnificent Seven
  • The Linen Book: Lost Images from The Magnificent Seven
  • Theatrical Trailers
  • Still Gallery

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3.5/5]

The Magnificent Seven presents a good story, albeit not original, with iconic characters and reasonably tight direction. The cinematography is first-rate with a knock-out restoration of this Western classic. Each of the leads creates a distinctive characterization and their interaction is seamless. The Oscar-nominated score is still pulse-pounding, although the sonics are clearly dated and not up to the best of today’s high-definition accounts.  This film genre has become one of the most durable in Hollywood’s long and distinguished history. Perhaps, not the ultimate statement in Westerns, as there are many contenders, such as The Wild Bunch and The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. The Magnificent Seven is still a very good watch in its retelling of a timeless account of good guys and bad guys. If you have seen the original release, you will be quite pleased with this anniversary edition. If you have not, then you will certainly find it to be two hours well spent.

Additional Screen Captures

[amazon-product]B004J04KXU[/amazon-product]

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:3.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:2.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2.5/5]

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