Critics Consensus

The Magnificent Seven Ain't Half Bad, Pardner, but It Ain't Great Neither

Plus, Storks only partially delivers, and Speechless, This Is Us, The Good Place, and Designated Survivor are all Certified Fresh.

by | September 22, 2016 | Comments

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?


The Magnificent Seven (2016) 63%

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 (2016) 65%

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.


 

What’s Hot on TV

Speechless: Season 1 (2016) 98%

Speechless speaks to a sensitive topic with a heartfelt lead performance and a fine balance of sensitivity and irreverence.


This Is Us: Season 1 (2016) 92%

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.


The Good Place: Season 1 (2016) 92%

Kristen Bell and Ted Danson knock it out of the park with supremely entertaining, charming performances in this absurd, clever and whimsical portrayal of the afterlife.


Designated Survivor: Season 1 (2016) 87%

Kiefer Sutherland skillfully delivers the drama in Designated Survivor, a fast-paced, quickly engrossing escapist political action fantasy.


Also Opening This Week In Limited Release

  • The Age of Shadows (2016) , a period thriller from director Jee-woon Kim, is at 100 percent.
  • Closet Monster (2015) , about a teen whose efforts to come to terms with his sexual identity are complicated at home and on the job, is at 91 percent.
  • Honeytrap (2014) , a drama about a girl’s struggles to deal with bullying at her new school, is at 88 percent.
  • Girl Asleep (2015) , about a teenager’s surreal 15th birthday, is at 86 percent.
  • Queen of Katwe (2016) , based on the true story of an Ugandan woman who became an international chess champion, is at 84 percent.
  • The Lovers and the Despot (2016) , a documentary telling the stranger-than-fiction story of South Korean film stars kidnapped by Kim Jong-il, is at 80 percent.
  • Goat (2016) , a college hazing drama starring Nick Jonas, is at 79 percent.
  • My Blind Brother (2016) , an indie comedy about the tense family dynamic between a slacker and his — you guessed it — blind brother, is at 77 percent.
  • Chronic (2015) , starring Tim Roth as a hospice nurse whose personal life needs its own emergency care, is at 76 percent.
  • The Dressmaker (2015) , starring Kate Winslet as a wronged woman who exacts revenge in the Australian outback through couture, is at 52 percent.
  • The Free World (2016) , about an ex-con whose freedom is imperiled by his sense of obligation to a friend in need, is at 43 percent.
  • Beauty and the Beast (2014) , starring Léa Seydoux and Vincent Cassel in yet another version of the oft-adapted tale, is at 18 percent.
  • I.T. (2016) , a techno-thriller about a man whose smart home is used against him, is at 8 percent.

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