If you want to hear Jeff Bridges using annoyingly raspy vocal patterns for a 100 minute running time as Julianne Moore’s witch character turns herself into a dragon at will, then Seventh Son is your movie. I’m going to try to be hesitant to rip on the movie though, because as low as my expectations were going into this latest early-year-fantasy-crapfest, I came out slightly surprised. “Slightly” being the key word.
This is a film that has gone through a number of production slugs, the main ones being a vast array of release date delays. The story (co-scripted by Steven Knight, who wrote and directed Locke, one of my favorite movies of 2014) follows John Greggory, or the Spook (Jeff Bridges), a witch hunter who spends his days doing exactly what that title suggests. Being the last of his kind, he seeks out Tom Ward (played by Ben Barnes), a “sheventh shon of a sheventh shon” (couldn’t resist). According to folklore, being a seventh son of a seventh son is a sign of special powers and abilities, and that is what the Spook intends to bring out of Tom. The main witch of the movie is Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore), who can turn herself into a dragon and is protective of some kind of magical stone.
If that synopsis forced out a yawn, then the movie will do the same. It sucks, but did you really expect more? This is an early-February release that features a bearded Jeff Brides repelling a witch and training an apprentice. If you take it at face value and don’t expect much more, you may have a little fun with it. But keep in mind, I use the term “may” intentionally, because this is far from being a good movie and it’s one that only emits fun if you understand what it’s going for.
But I have a hunch that even if everyone goes in with low expectations, not everyone will like it. Hell, I said it “surprised” me and I’m still not giving it a recommendation. But from my viewing experience, it’s not a terrible movie, unless you go in wanting some kind of Oscar-winning fantasy epic like The Lord of the Rings (which would be stupid on your part). No, Seventh Son stays in the shadows, taking certain elements from other fantasy movies in the past few years such as Eragon and Season of the Witch. And even though I wouldn’t say that I enjoyed the movie in general, the first two acts reminded me a lot of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, John Turtletub’s 2010 fantasy movie that I’ve always liked.
However, Seventh Son isn’t as good as The Sorcerer’s Apprentice because once the training sessions between Tom and the Spook expire, the film culminates in a terribly forgettable finale that tries to get us to sympathize with an evil character. It does nothing more than hide itself among the rest of the awful fantasy movies with finales that include random bursts of flames and buildings crumbling and creatures sprouting four arms.
It takes a while to get to that headache-inducing finale, but the hour or so it takes to get there isn’t terrible. I had some fun with it, whether it was the interplay between Bridges’ Spook or a funny chase sequence in which the two are running from a giant monster that you can see in the above image (I have no idea how to describe that thing). In that sequence, the Spook and Tom jump off a cliff and into the water. They breathe a sigh of relief as the Spook says that they have nothing to fear because the monster hates water. Then, the beast jumps into the water, and the look on Bridges’ face is priceless. These are the moments that make the movie more fun than it could have been with someone less fun in the role of the Spook.
This is a mediocre movie at its best, and an awful one at its worst, but at 103 minutes, Seventh Son isn’t slow or unbearable, and despite the mediocre Ben Barnes in the leading role, Julianne Moore brings creepy and over the top charm to her paper-thin villainous character. Even Game of Thrones’ Kit Harrington (Jon Snow) makes a cameo. And if that doesn’t do it for you, hearing Jeff Bridges mumble, “Fuckin’ witches” under his breath as he ascends a flight of stairs should.
Rated PG-13 for for intense fantasy violence and action throughout, frightening images and brief strong language
Starring Jeff Bridges, Ben Barnes, Alicia Vikander, Kit Harington, Olivia Williams, Antje Traue, Djimon Hounsou, Julianne Moore
Written by Charles Leavitt and Steven Knight
Directed by Sergei Bodrov