Seventh Son Review
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned or at least like a witch bearing a grudge
Goblins, Ghouls and Dragons… all the ingredients for a good ol’ fashioned fantasy film, only this one is half baked.Seventh Son is somewhat of a late comer to the silver screen, originally intended for release last year but delayed due to issues with its post production process. Hoping to jump aboard the current young adult film adaptation band waggon, The Wardstone Chronicles lends its inspiration to this fantasy adaptation directed by Sergei Bodrov. Bodrov, known for his epic award winning features such as Mongol and Prisoner of the Mountains, disappointingly fails to translate his previous successes over to Seventh Son. Boasting an impressive production team, who between them have worked on successful films such as Shutter Island, Drive, The Aviator et al. you would be forgiven for thinking that Seventh Son could deliver a similarly outstanding performance.Jeff Bridges stars as Master Gregory, an alcoholic witch hunter, or ‘Spook’ in need of a replacement apprentice after his last one met an untimely demise. Bridges provides us with a decisively lacklustre performance as Gregory, employing a strange accent reminiscent of Bane from The Dark Knight Rises mixed with Sean Connery. Gregory’s character tries to bring an element of comedy to the film and with a few well timed one liners and the light hearted repartee between himself and Tom, he does just about manage to do this. Recently it seems that Bridges has become accustomed to playing the disgruntled older man with a chip on his shoulder: True Grit, Crazy Heart and now Seventh Son, which alas, does not live up to his previous depictions or successes.
After scouring the land for the seventh son of a seventh son (the basic entry requirement to become a Spook), Gregory meets Tom Ward (Ben Barnes), a seemingly ordinary boy who dreams of escaping his mundane life of pig farming in search of something more. Tom is gifted with a special power which he hopes to embrace and understand but the story fails to spend much time developing this further, leaving it at a dead-end half way through the film.
Having previously being cast in similar fantasy fiction films such as Dorian Grey and The Chronicles of Narnia, one would expect Ben Barnes to be able to draw upon his past roles to provide a believable performance as Tom Ward, the chosen one. Unfortunately, Barnes is deathly dull as Tom, which isn’t helped by the poorly written dialogue which fails to show off or expand upon any of the talent that the young actor does possess.
Without hesitation Tom sets off with Gregory, leaving his family behind including his mother played by Olivia Williams, to begin his training and life as a future Spook. Along the way Tom meets Alice (Alicia Vikander) playing the role of the love interest, who holds a secret which could be the undoing of poor young Tom. Again, the script and the directing limits any potential chemistry between Tom and Alice and what we’re left with is a half hearted attempt at a teen romance which is anything but believable.
Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore are the only redeeming qualities in this 'young adult' flick.
Tom and Gregory go through the motions of training and fighting monsters which will ultimately lead to them facing up to the evil Mother Malkin played by Julianne Moore. Moore’s performance as the wicked witch comes across restricted and limited. As the queen of darkness she doesn’t seem to actually do much apart from saunter about in some beautiful gothic gowns, designed by Jacqueline West, whilst flexing her talons. The character of Malkin is similar to that of Angelina Jolie’s portrayal as wicked fairy, Maleficent, but unsurprisingly Moore fails to deliver the same impact. Moore’s performance in Seventh Son is average at best, a huge contrast to her brilliant portrayal as Havana Segrand in Maps to the Stars.
Luckily for Moore, she was able to accept the Oscar Award for her best actress in Still Alice without this poor performance in Seventh Son hanging over her. The film features a number of other established actors who align themselves with Malkin’s dark forces, but fail to be developed, leaving these characters to perform as background props. At first glance Seventh Son appears as an action packed fantasy adventure, but this idea is quickly laid to rest as the film unfolds. The story develops at an intermittent pace which almost falls to the background due to the overuse of CGI in creating the undeniably beautiful landscape setting for the film and of course in the creation of the mythical creatures our duo must face.
The fight scenes in Seventh Son are enjoyable to watch, albeit not as elaborate as you may expect from this genre, but this actually fits in with the medieval world in which the film is set. With the use of various magic powders and potions the fight scenes are laden with flashes and smoke, everything you would expect from a witch-hunting knight. Despite all the money poured into this project, Seventh Son fails to deliver what’s expected of it, the few redeeming qualities are the occasional humorous moments delivered by Bridges, and of course the reunion between Bridges and Moore, as the last time we saw them together was in the cult hit The Big Lebowski, and dude, I’d rather remember them like that.
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