“We will meet again.”
Seventh Son is Sergey Bodrov’s (Mongol) latest fantasy epic film starring Jeff Bridges, Julianne Moore, Alicia Vikander, and Ben Barnes. It’s a big budget adaptation of Joseph Delaney’s novel, The Spook’s Apprentice, which failed to make a splash at the box office. It is set in a Tolkien-like fantasy world where supernatural forces live among humans. There are witches, warlocks, boggarts, ghouls, and many other dark morphing creatures, and then there are spooks who protect the people by hunting down these monsters. Bodrov relies heavily on the CGI effects, but the film does look good thanks to its production design. Bridges plays the sole remaining spook, Master Gregory, who is trying to hunt down the extremely dangerous witch, Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore). Malkin plans on using her powers to reunite her followers and unleash evil across the world. After losing his latest apprentice (played by Kit Harrington), Gregory must train the young seventh son of a seventh son named Tom (Ben Barnes) who really doesn’t seem to be an interesting prospect. He only has a week to train him before reaching Malkin and preventing her from fulfilling her evil plan. Along the way, Tom falls for a young witch named Alice (Alicia Vikander) who has been spying on them. She isn’t a dark witch, but is following her mother’s orders. Seventh Son doesn’t take itself too seriously and Bodrov jumps from one action set piece to the next without spending too much time on the characters and thus not allowing the audience to think too much about the silliness of it all.
The greatest disappointment is of course the weak screenplay that never allows us to engage with the characters despite being played by a fantastic cast. It’s inevitable not to thing about The Big Lebowski when seeing Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore working together again. Moore had a fantastic year, winning the Oscar for her lead performance in Still Alice, but here she doesn’t have anything interesting to do. She plays a typical and cliched villain. Bridges goes extremely overboard with his character, reminding us that we shouldn’t take this adventure film too seriously. It’s hard to understand his drunken mumbling which will remind us of his work in True Grit. Olivia Williams and Djimon Hounsou also have some small roles in this film, so it is a huge disappointment to see such a talented cast wasted in a big budget film like this. Barnes and Vikander are young talented actors that try to do the best with the material they are given. The Swedish actress has taken Hollywood by storm after her performance in the Danish film, A Royal Affair, and she has five films coming out this year. She’s an actress I will be keeping my eyes on.
Seventh Son has been receiving terrible reviews, but it wasn’t as bad as I had expected. The plot moves along very quickly and in a very predictable manner, but it never tries to take itself too seriously and that is Seventh Son’s greatest strength. The action set pieces are fun and the film is short (under 95 minutes). Of course it isn’t a good film either, but considering it is light for the eyes it’s not a difficult film to watch. If you’re bored you might find the film entertaining and it’s a good way to kill time, but there is nothing memorable about it either. More than anything it’s a huge disappointment for wasting such a talented cast. There’s no character development, but the impressive set designs and quick pace make up for it.