I’ve reviewed a few movies in my time that I really looked forward to. The first degree burn I received was for 47 Ronin, a samurai movie that looked promising but ultimately was let down by the numerous production hurdles, issues with directors and decisions on what language it should be released in (I mean come on?!) So I went into Seventh Son with shields raised to maximum, an armour +10 spell in effect and a pillow to hide from anything remotely scary… All I forgot were my earplugs…
Our movie starts with Jeff Bridges, a ‘Spook’ imprisoning a witch (Mother Malkin, played by a less than terrifying Julianne Moore) in a mountain using some rather dodgy DIY involving a thin cage, some rusted bolts and some scatterings of iron. Or was it silver? Who knows, who cares?. The witch escapes after 10 years and Mastery Gregory (Bridges) along with his apprentice attempt to rein her in. Sadly this doesn’t go so well for apprentice Billy Bradley (Kit Harrington, Game of Thrones) and she escapes, hell bent on revenge once again. Bradley’s bad luck forces our Spook to seek out another “seventh son of a seventh son” – which apparently makes you genetically special – this time in the form of Tom Ward (Ben Barnes). You see it would seem that families that reproduce at such a phenomenal rate owe Spooks an apprentice, for a fee of course. Thus begins Ward’s training. Cue the montage.
Alongside all this is the theme that not all witches are bad and that perhaps our Spook is a bit more spooked than he cares to admit. Case in point: during a trip to buy provisions our Ward goes and falls for a young, rather attractive witch (Alicia Vikander) who starts filling his head with ‘we’re not all bad, it’s you who are killing us’ liberal fluff. I liked the idea of it. It isn’t a new idea but it is one that you don’t often get in a movie like this. So I thought “great, a movie where we are not sure if the big bad is in fact the big bad”. And indeed after a short while there is a cool fight scene where the new apprentice is asked to do something quite extreme but refuses on moral grounds, disappointing his Master. But regrettably Seventh Son then blunders its way through said moral quandaries of ‘labelling people’ and ends up being exactly what these types of movies are usually about: Bland hero kills monsters, except for one, because she is hot.
We also discover that Ward has a secret, one that can help in their plight of stopping the evil witch from performing a ceremony. You see in just a few days when the moon turns blood red Mother Malkin can cast a spell that will cover the land in evil. Sadly when Ward’s secret is out the logic that SHOULD unfold doesn’t. We don’t even get any cool ‘I am the one’ moments, which is why I went to watch this in the first place. We then get the usual journey of betrayal, falling, bad fighting, more falling, a staff that appears really powerful but seems to only act as a fire-lighter SOMETIMES, some good fighting, a witch with a vendetta that makes no sense and an ending that I am still trying to fathom.
Sadly Seventh Son doesn’t know what it wants to be. It tries to be an epic, but the random jumping from evil witch gathering her army of sisters, to ‘please give me a halls’ Jeff Bridges (his accent can only be described as Yoda with influenza, and I literally could not understand him at times) means that the movie is all over the place. There are some decent fight scenes, but even these came across very blurred in the 3D I saw (I would say avoid it in 3D, as most of the movie is dark and it really doesn’t work well) and there are some very forced funny moments that I can only assume were meant to break the ‘tension’ – only problem being there usually wasn’t any.
As for character building, other than a short scene where ‘Darth Yoda laryngitis Bridges’ explains his sordid past to our naive young warrior there is none. We do get some back story to what being a Spook is actually about as well as a scene that is basically ‘stay inside, I am sure you will. Oh my god, he didn’t!’. There are also the occasional out of place and way too personal comments that are slipped in here and there to try and make something of the story but they stand out like the nails on Moore’s hands (very Maleficent). There is also very little dialogue for a movie that could have used it, the most coming from the main protagonists, Bridges and Moore and very little from Ward, who is supposed to be the centre of the movie. In fact Ward seems to just stand about looking confused until he has the old classic speech of ‘look into yourself, believe in yourself’ after which he develops them skills (which are pretty underwhelming).
Seventh Son attempts to bridge gaps in its story by throwing in fight scene after fight scene that are usually redundant. There are a few that are well placed and make the movie move in a positive direction, and are quite spectacular too, however the majority of the movie just comes across as lost, playing to tropes that the producers and/or directors think will engage the audience enough to keep them entertained for the 120 minutes running time. Not even the awesome Djimon Hounsou, who plays master (but apparently totally useless) Assassin Radu, managed to grip my attention. I mean come on. If you can turn into a frigging dragon and STILL not impress, something is not right.
I am truly disappointed that Seventh Son turned out as it did as I think there could have been a lot more to it had they focused on creating a logical and coherent story. Instead we are made to ride on thin character motivations overly peppered with pseudo ‘who am I’ questions that ultimately collapse under the end result of bash and smash.
My final gripe: Bridges, DUDE, what is up with the VOICE!?
Last Updated: January 15, 2015