#2 Son and I went to see it. Two thumbs way, way up.
It took some guts to remake a film that not only stared John Wayne, but Glen Campbell, Dennis Hopper, and Robert Duval. One that won an Oscar. But this film not only bests out the original, it possibly sweeps the board: it's possible that every role is performed better in the new one than the old. Not certain, but possible.
What is certain is that young Miss Hailee Steinfeld (at 14, a year younger than #2 Son) gave a performance that is nothing short of astounding, and which is Oscar-worthy. Kim Darby's performance in the original pales in comparison.
And Matt Damon steals the show as La Boeuf, the Texas Ranger. I have a soft spot in my heart for Glen Campbell, but he was as hard drinking as the character of Rooster Cogburn. Not sure if that had anything to do with it, but his performance doesn't match Damon's.
Jeff Bridges perhaps won't get nominated for an Oscar, as he did in last year's Crazy Heart, but he fills The Duke's big, big boots more than adequately. His Rooster Cogburn is different from Wayne's - it doesn't feel like he's trying to be Wayne at all, although one quote is clearly left in as a tip o' the brim to the original: Fill your hand, you son-of-a-bitch!
Remakes are Hollywood's stock in trade, it seems. Love that or hate that, we should appreciate when a great, iconic film is redone better. Highly recommended.