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Non-Review Review: The Magnificent Seven

The Magnificent Seven is a western, pure and simple.

It is not a deconstruction. It is not a reconstruction. It is not filtered through the lense of postmodernism or through the prism of postcolonialism. It does not interrogate the underlying assumptions of the western, nor does it explore the relationship between the myth of the frontier and the brutal reality. From beginning to end, through and through, The Magnificent Seven is very much a straightforward execution of the familiar western tropes delivered with a minimum of irony or reflection.

"Ain't we magnificent?"

“Ain’t we magnificent?”

There is a certain charm to this. Director Antoine Fuqua takes great pleasure in running through the standard western tropes, particularly those epic tracking steadicam shots of riders galloping through acres of beautiful countryside as the theme music builds. There is a certain pleasure to be had in The Magnificent Seven as a film resistant to modernisation, a film content in the assumption that the language and iconography of the genre does not need to be tweaked or updated beyond the application of some computer-generated imagery and a modern cast.

There is also something deeply frustrating in all of this, something that reduces The Magnificent Seven to a rather lifeless collection of western imagery tied together in a fairly unimaginative way without anything particularly bold or exciting to say.

The sky's the limit.

The sky’s the limit.

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Star Trek: Enterprise – Marauders (Review)

Next year, Star Trek is fifty years old. We have some special stuff planned for that, but – in the meantime – we’re reviewing all of Star Trek: Enterprise this year as something of a prequel to that anniversary. This April, we’re doing the second season. Check back daily for the latest review.

Well, it looks like Star Trek: Enterprise used up most (if not all) of its ambition for the second season.

The second season of Enterprise got off to a fairly decent start, Shockwave, Part II notwithstanding. Minefield and Dead Stop weren’t perfect, but they were taking the show in a direction that seemed promising. A Night in Sickbay may have been a pretty serious misfire, but it was still a very ambitious instalment of the series. However, it seemed like that ambition was not to last. The second season of Enterprise becomes fairly conventional from this point out – fairly relaxed and fairly generic.

"We don't like your kind around here..."

“We don’t like your kind around here…”

This is the type of approach that producers will frequently describe as “back to basics.” More cynical commentators might use the phrase “back to the well.” The goal seems to be to offer the audience more of what they’ve had before, to repeat what had worked in earlier episodes in earlier seasons in earlier shows. There’s a creeping sense of familiarity to the whole exercise, as if the writing staff are merely filing the numbers (and character names) off old scripts so that they can be recycled. It is very environmentally friendly.

Marauders starts the trend, offering viewers what amounts to The Magnificent Seven… in space, with Klingons!” It works quite well as a diversion or change of pace. It is significantly less satisfying as a direction for the rest of the season.

"Settlement this!"

“Settlement this!”

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