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Arts & Life

Movie Reviews: 'Magnificent Seven' And 'Storks'

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

It is Friday, which means it's really a time to talk about movies. And to do that, let's first cue a little bit of music.

(SOUNDBITE OF ELMER BERNSTEIN ORCHESTRAL PIECE, "MAIN TITLE AND CALVERA")

GREENE: Get me a horse, a cowboy hat. OK, maybe not right now in the studio. But that is the theme from the old western "The Magnificent Seven."

And there is a remake of that classic out this week. Justin Chang is here to tell us about it. He's film critic for the Los Angeles Times.

Hey, Justin.

JUSTIN CHANG: Hi, David.

GREENE: So I assume not everyone saw that original movie. Just remind us of the story of this great film.

CHANG: Yes, of course. Seven Americans are hired to protect a Mexican village from some robbers who repeatedly steal a harvest.

The original "Magnificent Seven" is of course a remake itself of Akira Kurosawa's masterpiece "Seven Samurai," which is by far the best iteration of any of - this story.

The new film is - it's OK. It gets the job done. It has some inspired moments.

GREENE: (Laughter) That's not the best billing, but you're not saying not to go?

CHANG: No, I'm not saying not to go. What's kind of novel about this one is the diversity of the cast. So you have Denzel Washington, you have Byung-hun Lee, the South Korean actor. You have a Native American actor. So they're - they've kind of tried to diversify. Baby steps, you know?

GREENE: Well, what is it - you mentioned this remake of "The Magnificent Seven" was - is a remake of - remake of this story. What is so...

CHANG: (Laughter) Yes.

GREENE: ...Compelling about this story? And why is it so attractive to filmmakers?

CHANG: Yeah. I think it's just such an irresistible concept. You know, there's people who are at the end of their rope, who are innocent, who are preyed upon, rising up against a powerful, oppressive force. The underdog story and the implications of it are just incredibly irresistible.

I just - I do think that we have a lot of movies now where people sort of gang up, you know. We have a lot of, you know - superheroes gang up. We have "The Avengers," you have, you know, "Guardians Of The Galaxy." It's like that part of the premise is actually a little bit stale at this point, or just not as fresh and invigorating as I think it probably was in the '50s, when, you know, with "Seven Samurai." So I think it's a durable concept, but it's definitely seen better days.

GREENE: OK. So this movie is OK. And you say I could go to see it, but don't need to go to see it.

Is there a movie this weekend that I just shouldn't miss?

CHANG: You know, I can't be objective, David, about what I'm about to recommend...

GREENE: OK.

CHANG: ...But, you know, as the father of a 2-month-old. But I really enjoyed the hell out of "Storks," which is this kind of delightfully silly, nonsensical movie revisiting the fantasy of, where do babies come? Well, the stork brought her, or the stork brought him. And this movie really makes no sense at all. You know, I mean, it's a film that...

GREENE: (Laughter).

CHANG: ...Sort of has some appeal, I think, to parents in the audience because there's sort of this wink, wink - well, we really know where babies come from. But I think I walked out more confused about where the babies come from...

GREENE: (Laughter) OK.

CHANG: ...Than I think I did going in. But that being said, it's quite an enjoyable zippy, madcap story, that it has some really sweet things to say about family and the importance of, you know, finding a family to love and loving the family that you have. And I was very you sort of won over by that sentiment. But, again, I cannot be objective about it. I wrote my review balancing, you know, my own child on my lap, but, you know.

GREENE: Aw. That's really adorable.

CHANG: (Laughter).

GREENE: Well, Justin, always great to talk to you. And have fun at the movies this weekend.

CHANG: You too, David.

GREENE: Justin Chang is the film critic for the Los Angeles Times. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.