Tag Archives: Cowboys & Aliens

The Magnificent Seven vs. The Historical Negationism of Westerns

Yesterday marked the North American premiere of The Magnificent Seven, a movie that I’ve been looking forward to ever since I saw the trailer some months back. The reason for that is far more simple than you might have guessed: I’m a sucker for Westerns. A large part of that can probably be traced back to my playthrough of Red Dead Redemption back in college-

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-but even before that there had always been something appealing about the clink of spurs, the arid desert heat, and towns that weren’t big enough for two particular individuals. That being said, I did with The Magnificent Seven what I do with everything I’m excited about, which is research it obsessively.

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Eventually my search led me to a thread in /r/movies sharing the new poster for the film, which you can see on the right. Clicking on the image should help you get a better look at the titular cast of characters, and reveal an additional reason for my interest you might have expected me to be more upfront about.

Of the seven men four are people of colour.

Denzel Washington, emphasized by the number that outlines him, is bounty hunter Sam Chisholm and leader of the group. On his far right is Martin Sensmeier, of First Nations descent, playing Comanche warrior Red Harvest. Skipping past Chris Pratt on his left are Byung-hun Lee as assassin Billy Rocks and Manuel Garcia-Rulfo as Vasquez, a Mexican outlaw.

Now if there’s anything enthusiasm likes it’s company, and as I scrolled down through the thread seeing if anyone else shared my excitement for the film I came across this comment:

multicultural7 Continue reading

Mashin’ It Up

Outrage doesn’t even begin to describe what fans of Teenage Mutant Ninja
Turtles felt when Michael Bay, producer of the franchise’s next live-action film,  announced that the quartet would be aliens. This was coupled with the news that Leonardo, Raphael, Michaelangelo, and Donatello would not only lose their alien status, but would not be teenagers either.

Ninja Turtles aside [that’s the working film title, folks], why should this matter to non-fans? From an objective perspective, this is simply taking two modifiers, “mutant” and “ninja,” and replacing them with another, “alien.” The original thing idea was already a conglomeration of extremely dissimilar parts. The seemingly mindless melding of genres.

Take the past decade in film for example. Jon Favreau’s Cowboys and Aliens hit theatres in 2011, and Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, premiering this summer, causes us to branch out further still. The film is based on a book by Seth Grahame-Smith, the same person who authored Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Taking zombies into account, they’ve terrorized everyone and everything from strippers to ninjas to plants to the entire Marvel universe.

So where does it stop, and should it? Grant Morrison will be writing Dinosaurs Vs. Aliens, both a graphic novel and a feature film that will pit highly evolved dinosaurs against extraterrestrial invaders. This sounds utterly ridiculous, but if anyone can do it, it’s Morrison. His miniseries We3 features three mech-clad house pets and their escape from a government facility, and he finds a way to embody these animals and their experiences with more depth than you would think possible.

So clearly this can be done well. 2009’s Sherlock Holmes mixed detective work, martial arts, and some steampunk elements. Joss Whedon’s short-lived series Firely was a space western, meaning that it melded both the futuristic and the American Western. Genre mashups can and have worked.

At this point in time I think that we’ve oversaturated media with these films, books, shows, et cetera. In light of the fact that this summer’s The Avengers is essentially a gigantic hodgepodge of genres I’m postponing my embargo on such works for the time of being. Until then, please, for the sake of good entertainment, enough with the zombies.