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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Jul 31, 2016

Will The Remakes Of 'Ben Hur' And 'The Magnificent Seven' Be As Good As The Original Versions?

TWO OF THE most memorable movies of our youth have been remade this year: the classic epic set at the time of Jesus Christ, “Ben Hur”, which will open in August, and the iconic western, “The Magnificent Seven”, which has a September playdate. “Ben Hur” is based on the novel by Lew Wallace and was first filmed in 1959 (there’s also an earlier 1925 version) by Director William Wyler. It won a total of 11 Oscars, including best picture and best actor for Charlton Heston as Ben Hur.

Ben Hur is a prince falsely accused of a crime by his adopted brother, Messala. He is forced into slavery in the high seas but later finds redemption. The remake is directed by Russian-Kazakh filmmaker Timur Bekmambetov (“Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter”, “Wanted”) and has a cast of newcomers: Jack Huston as Ben Hur, Toby Kebbell as Messala (the late Stephen Boyd is unforgettable as the villain in the original) and Nazanin Boniadi as leading lady. From the trailer we saw, we don’t think it can top the William Wyler original.

“The Magnificent Seven” was first made in 1960, directed by John Sturges and starring Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, Robert Vaughn, Brad Dexter and Horst Buchholz.

It has a theme music that became hugely popular and we can remember it up to this day. The film was actually based on the acclaimed 1954 Japanese classic, “The Seven Samurai”, by the legendary filmmaker Akira Kurosawa.

The story concerns seven gunfighters who are hired by a small Mexican town to protect them from marauding bandits. The new version is directed by Antoine Fuqua (“Olympus Has Fallen”, “The Equalizer” remake, “Training Day”) and stars Denzel Washington (who won his second Oscar for “Training Day”), Ethan Hawke (who’s also in “Training Day”), Chris Pratt, Vincent D’Onofrio, Byung Hun Lee, Manuel Garcia, Martin Sensmeier, with Peter Sarsgaard as the villain, originally played by Eli Wallach. Let’s see if it could top the original.