On the Silver Screen – Seventh Son
Sergei Bodrov’s Young Adult fantasy movie Seventh Son finally hits cinemas after a year stuck in post production limbo.
The basic premise is that the seventh son of seventh sons are all destined to become “Spooks”. A group dedicated to defend the world from demonic evil. They’ve fallen on hard times and there is only one left after the latest apprentice suffers a gruesome death.
Most of the film boils down to a mentor/mentee relationship with Jeff Bridges playing John Gregor -the only surviving Spook- who takes on the young Tom Ward (Ben Barnes) as his apprentice in an attempt to train him to fight the evil Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore) before the blood moon reaches its fullest.
It’s fairly standard fantasy plotting. We have an old wise mentor who takes on the reckless and untrained youth to teach him about the destiny he is about to inherit. There’s a ticking clock and an ultimate evil needing vanquished. As stories go this one doesn’t bring any surprises and as such manages to be more than a little boring.
One saving grace is that the pacing of the film isn’t all that long and it’s fairly well paced for the most part. We don’t have to spend too much time with the boring characters before an action sequence kicks in. The action sequences are handled capably on the whole and manage to be fairly entertaining throughout if not all that creative.
The overall look of the film is hampered by CGI that is at times really fake looking. It’s hard to get absorbed in a world that looks so profoundly fake with some really dodgy green screen effects and obvious digital trickery.
Surprisingly the film has a pretty solid cast filling out the main roles but doesn’t really give them an awful lot to do. Jeff Bridges tries to channel his inner Gandalf but generally comes across as a mumbling idiot. It could have been part of his character to drunkenly slur his way through his dialogue and present the appearance of making it up as he goes along. I sort of enjoyed his mugging but he’s capable of a whole lot more than that so it’s a shame to see him so underutilised. It’s becoming a pattern with him doing bad films like this. The guy needs to find a role worth his talents before he becomes a complete joke.
Julianne Moore comes across the best here as the villain of the piece. She’s clearly having a lot of fun with the role and chewing the fake scenery while hamming it up to perfection. Her character confuses me as the film constantly tells us that she’s the ultimate evil but she never seems to do something that’s all that evil. She seems to be defending herself for the most part. It’s a symptom of poor world building really but she didn’t seem all that bad.
Ben Barnes is completely forgettable in his role but he has nothing to do beyond hit all the stops in a standard coming of age arc that ends exactly the same way as it always does. His character is uninteresting and is fairly bereft of any discernible character traits so it’s not exactly the opportunity for a perfect performance. Similarly Alicia Vikander only plays the role of the standard boring love interest so finds her talents drastically underused.
A really standard fantasy movie setup that goes nowhere interesting and completely fails to surprise in any way.
Mercifully the film is a short experience with plenty of somewhat competent action sequences that keep things moving along at a decent clip. It’s difficult to get bored as it doesn’t sit still for long enough.
It has a good cast but they are all criminally underused with Jeff Bridges sleepwalking his way through a Gandalfesque role coming across as more drunk than anything else. He does manage to be entertaining some of the time but there are better places to get a dose of Jeff Bridges.
Julianne Moore clearly has a lot of fun chewing the CGI scenery as the villain who doesn’t seem all that evil. She is entertaining to watch but her character lacks substance or justification.
Ben Barnes has very little to do other than act as the mentee role in the story hitting all expected stops on that journey. Alicia Vikander is his cookie cutter love interest with no real personality.
There are better fantasy movies so I don’t really recommend this as being worth anybody’s time. Even the competent action sequences can be found done better elsewhere.