Seventh Son (2014)

Seventh Son (2014)
  • Time: 102 min
  • Genre: Action | Adventure | Fantasy
  • Director: Sergey Bodrov
  • Cast: Jeff Bridges, Julianne Moore, Ben Barnes


John Gregory, who is a seventh son of a seventh son and also the local spook, has protected he country from witches, boggarts, ghouls and all manner of things that go bump in the night. However John is not young anymore, and has been seeking an apprentice to carry on his trade. Most have failed to survive. The last hope is a young farmer’s son named Thomas Ward. Will he survive the training to become the spook that so many others couldn’t?


  • Quickie Review:

    In a world terrorized by witches and other hideous creatures, a Spook called Master Gregory (Jeff Bridges) is the only remaining protector of humanity. With Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore) gaining strength, Master Gregory takes on Thomas (Ben Barnes) as his apprentice to rid of this threat once and for all. That synopsis is more exciting than the movie itself. Seventh Son lacks quality in all facets of filmmaking. Poor acting, directing, and CGI set pieces culminate to a movie that makes watching it a challenge. Simply skip this one.

    Full Review:

    The first trailers for Seventh Son made the movie seem like a mediocre fantasy flick. Even with my managed expectations where I just wanted some fun dragon fights, I was bored.

    Before I fully delve into the negatives I will mention the one thing I like about the movie. Seventh Son has a significant number of creatures. I liked seeing overall variation in the design of the creatures. Apart from that, I really can’t say anything else that was at least satisfactory.

    Actually, I’m going to backtrack a little with the one positive I mentioned. Yes individually the creature design is nice, but they are usually showcased in a large CGI set piece. During these scenes so many effects are added that it starts to feel over-congested. These are supposed to be the most exciting parts, but with such a bloated mix of CGI on screen I started to care less and less. Then there is the story, which as generic as it gets. You know every beat of the movie. Now generic stories can still be enjoyable if at least the characters are interesting. Instead all the characters feel like cartoons because everyone overacted. Yes, that’s right, including Julianne Moore, who just won an Oscar for Best Actress. So I don’t blame the actors for this, it was clearly the director’s choice.

    Look I’ll end this review now, because I might forget this movie even existed any minute now. It was not so bad that I wanted to gouge my eyes out. Yet the movie is so filled with below par filmmaking that it is bland and barely tolerable.

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  • A wise and battle-weary Old Man is confronted by the greatest enemy from his past and recruits a young farm-Boy who slowly learns his destiny through interaction with a mysterious artifact he owns. As the boy grows, the Man, though grumpy, comes to respect and rely on the Boy, the Boy in turn slowly learns to accept the teachings of the Old Man and together the boy falls in love and they defeat the Evil and its Empire.

    That’s pretty much the basic plot outline of nearly every fantasy film made since Star Wars at the very least, whether it’s Science Fantasy like Star Wars (or as TV Tropes dubs it, the Standard Sci-fi Setting), or the Standard Fantasy Setting from a popular book (see: Eragon). The latest incarnation of this tired trope is helmed by Russian director Sergei Bodrov, director and writer of Quickie, Prisoner of the Mountains, and Mongol: The Rise of Genghis Khan. Based on Joseph Delaney’s 2004 fantasy novel, The Spook’s Apprentice, Seventh Son follows Tom Ward, the seventh son of a seventh son as Jeff Bridges’ Master Gregory, a Spook (basically a Monster Hunter Gandalf), recruits him to defeat the recently escaped evil witch Mother Malkin, played by Julianne Moore, who should know better.

    Seventh Son is an awful, boring and completely unoriginal film in almost every way. The source material is apparently loosely based on Lancashire, the English county Delaney is from, and yet the film is shot in the lush wilderness of British Columbia, a Canadian province. Other sets range from Christian churchs to Meditteranean market-harbour-cities, and finally to an ancient Roman-themed deserted mountain fortress with Arabic interior decorations. The deluge of influences on the production design becomes so distracting that the first time you see Asian peasants carrying water buckets in the background you’re confused, but by the time the Hindu protector god Vishnu appears alongside a giant salamander and a pair of dragons to destroy the harbour-city one no longer cares about a consistent universe. In terms of costuming it cannot be stressed enough how obviously this film wants the viewer to sub-consciously align it with Star Wars with the fact that Tom, Gregory and in one dream sequence Tom’s mother all dress like fucking Jedi. It’s more confusing than Lando Calrissian wearing Han Solo’s outfit at the end of Empire Strikes Back.

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  • Not much happens in Seventh Son, though it certainly works hard to convince you otherwise. Based on the first book in Joseph Delaney’s The Wardstone Chronicles series, this anaemic entry into the fantasy adventure genre barely delivers the needful and repels any attempt at narrative momentum.

    Jeff Bridges stars as Gregory, the sole remaining “spook” belonging to an elite order of knights whose life’s work is to battle the dark forces. His former lover, witch queen Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore), has escaped her imprisonment in time for the imminent arrival of the Blood Moon, a centennial event that offers a resurgence of her diminished powers. Their reunion ends with the shapeshifting sorceress evading his trap and leaving dead his trusted apprentice (Kit Harington).

    Gregory enlists farmhand Tom Ward (Ben Barnes) as his next trainee. The seventh son of the seventh son, Tom is seized with visions of doom that involve the beguiling enchantress Alice (Alicia Vikander), Mother Malkin’s niece who has been assigned to spy on Gregory. She warns Tom about Gregory, Gregory warns him about Alice.. Master and student go through the motions of his training. Ghouls and ghosts and other CGI monsters present themselves for vanquishing. Mother Malkin purrs about unleashing hell so that women are no longer victimised by men.

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  • ˝You’ve spells, boy. What kind?
    Sometimes I…I see things. Things that haven’t happened yet.
    Could be useful. Not the passing out part of course, but the visions.˝

    Take the cartoon “The Sword in the Stone”, add in a few ingredients of “Willow” and use a diminutive small portion of “The Lord of the Rings” and you’ll get “Seventh Son” as a result. The umpteenth adaptation of a series of youth books and again a contribution to the fantasy genre. Now, I’m a huge fan of fantasy. Start a movie in which knights, magicians, dragons, trolls, witches, gnomes and other mythological creatures are introduced and I will be completely absorbed in this fairytale world. Unfortunately, this film is a huge mishmash of multiple facets of previously released movies (which at first sight shouldn’t be a problem) .The biggest problem is the storyline. What an incomprehensible tangle this is. Had the seventh son of the seventh son seen this in his visions , he would leave without notice to an unknown destination and never be in touch again.

    It’s certainly not the overly present CGI which is disappointing, although it doesn’t look smooth all the time. It’s mainly the interpretations that started to annoy, with front runner Jeff Bridges as Master Gregory. This mumbling pub visiting magician, better known as a Spook, is doing his utmost to come across as an unpleasant person. It seems like Bridges just copied his character from ˝R.I.P.D.˝. A mix between Catweazle and Gandalf but with a huge toothless lower jaw which ensures you can only hear an unintelligible stream of mumbled words coming from under his D’artagnan-like mustache. Besides a few witty and sarcastic quotes, you shouldn’t expect any serious dialogs of this character. Ben Barnes interprets the lucky apprentice Tom Ward. A person without charisma who acts and looks quite dull and colorless. The only thing you can admire him for, is the fact that he worked his way up to savior of the world in a record time (the previous unfortunate was already 10 years an apprentice. He had to master it in 3 days. Respect!), because mankind is about to meet again with a gang of villains led by Mother Malkin. Julianne Moore attempts to depict Mother Malkin as a demonic witch who can transform effortlessly into an invincible flying dragon. However, it remains an attempt because she doesn’t really look that frightening. As a person she looks to ordinary and her cleavage impressed me more at times than her acting performance. The fact that Bridges and Moore acted together in ˝The Big Lebowski˝ as father and daughter, probably made for a lovely reunion.

    But the biggest problem in ˝Seventh Son˝ was undoubtedly the total absence of any explanation. The seventh son of a seventh son has access to magical powers. I guess we have to take that for granted ? Gregory knew to outwit Mother Malkin one way or another in the past and saw a chance to lock her in a cave somewhere in a high mountain. He used a huge iron gate to close it completely. Apparently at that time Mother Malkin wasn’t powerful enough to beat Master Gregory. That’s quite obvious to me, since he was able to carry that huge fence together with her up the mountain. In the wake of Mother Malkin there was also an army of invincible figures. Probably they were at that moment astray I guess. And the term invincible is also something you should take with a grain of salt. They were eliminated without too much trouble. The multi-armed Shiva-like swordsman looks dangerously but disappears out of the picture in a ridiculous way. The course of the entire history is nowhere deepened and logical explanations remain off. Eventually you don’t bother about the whole story anymore and continue to watch in a haze of total indifference with this recurring thought ˝Oh well, I guess it ought to be like this and it probably will be obvious to the savvy viewers. I’m obvious not part of that group.˝

    The CGI looks stunning but occasionally it simply sucks. The dialogs are quite comical at times, but mostly they feel contrived and uninspired. The whole is extremely predictable and some developments are downright ridiculous. That the half-witch Alice (Alicia Vikander) seduces Tom with a single glance. Now that’s what I call magic. Ingenious opening sentences and flirting techniques aren’t necessary those days I guess. The release of this film was delayed by one year. That alone you can interpret as a bad omen. It’s pretty unlikely that they are going to make a motion picture of the subsequent books. Well, I’m not eagerly looking forward to that.

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