This week at the movies, we’ve got a familiar Western septet (The Magnificent Seven, starring Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt) and a flock of spindly animated birds towing precious cargo (Storks, with voice performances from Andy Samberg and Katie Crown). What are the critics saying?
It’s hard to escape the law of diminishing returns, but when you’re starting with an original as strong as Akira Kurosawa’s classic Seven Samurai, you can take a few steep tumbles and still end up with acceptable entertainment. That’s the gamble, anyway, that director Antoine Fuqua takes with this weekend’s The Magnificent Seven — a remake of the 1960 John Sturges Western that transplanted Kurosawa’s story from 15th century Japan to Mexico in the 1800s, and yet another retelling of a tale that’s already inspired a slew of pictures over the years, some more faithfully than others. (Battle Beyond the Stars, anyone?) Critics say there’s really no getting around the fact that this Seven has little reason to exist, but it’s still a largely entertaining ride for a couple of crucial reasons: one, Fuqua knows his way around a set piece, and two, watching Denzel Washington lead a Western is mighty satisfying even if the movie around him is something less than the sum of its parts. Don’t expect another classic Samurai adaptation, but if it’s mindless entertainment you’re after, go right ahead and saddle up.
Storks flaps forth from the hallowed halls of Warner Bros. Animation boasting a starry cast (including Jennifer Aniston, Andy Samberg, and Ty Burrell) and a rather intriguing premise inspired by the titular birds’ mythical involvement in baby-making. It has a lot of things going for it, in other words — which is why it comes as a disappointment to read reviews describing a run-of-the-mill effort that has all the zany energy and colorful animation audiences expect from modern cartoons, but not enough heart or genuine wit. Like most recent entries in the genre, Storks is competently made and should make for a passable diversion for families in a pinch — but the critics say you’ve seen better and don’t have to look far for better choices.
Speechless speaks to a sensitive topic with a heartfelt lead performance and a fine balance of sensitivity and irreverence.
Featuring full-tilt heartstring-tugging family drama, This Is Us will provide a suitable surrogate for those who have felt a void in their lives since Parenthood went off the air.
Also Opening This Week In Limited Release