Starring: Ben Barnes, Julianne Moore, Jeff Bridges, Alicia Vikander, Olivia Williams, Antje Traue, Antje Traue
Directed By: Sergey Bodrov
Written By: Charles Leavitt, Steven Knight
Rating: PG-13 (US) Running Time: 1 hr 42 min
It has been a tiring weekend at the movies. Actually, it’s been a tiring few weeks at the movies, as studios nearly always wait until the start of the year to release the projects they are less than enthused about. Ironic really, since this is also award season, and while the industry is patting itself on the back for the quality work they released at the end of last year. They are simultaneously dumping their worst material on us in the hope to recover production costs. This last weekend was tougher than most. On Saturday the 7th of February, I lost two hours of my life to Jupiter Ascending, the day after that, I lost another 102 minutes of planet time to Seventh Son.
Seventh Son is based on a novel called ‘The Spook’s Apprentice’ by Joseph Delaney, and finally arrives in our theaters after several release date changes. Did you know this was originally scheduled for February 2013? It tells a pretty familiar story about a young man called Tom Ward (Ben Barnes), a farm boy yearning for adventure, who is, you know; “The One!” The Seventh Son of the Seventh Son, which apparently makes this kid special, not that the film really bothers to explain what that actually means. And he’s only brought into the story after Master Gregory (Jeff Bridges), gets his last assistant killed. Which immediately had me asking ‘if Ward was so important, why wasn’t he already Master Gregory’s apprentice?’
Beyond the incredibly underdeveloped back story of the titular character, this is your standard Dungeons & Dragons style nonsense with lots of visual effects sequences. Complete with a tired plot involving an evil witch trying to take over the world, the aforementioned farm boy, and a sage Spook looking to pass on his teachings. Sound familiar? I don’t know about you, but a certain classic space adventure flick* released in 1977 came to mind.
The big difference between Seventh Son and that film? (If you don’t know the film I just referenced, see my footnote below, and then pretend you knew all along!) Chemistry! There is none in this film, and at times, it felt like the entire cast were phoning in their performances. Perhaps due to the effects heavy nature of this film, and the amount of green-screen sets and fake creatures the cast had to interact with. Or, they all read the dull script after they had signed their contracts, and just knew this was a turd that couldn’t be polished. Either way, Seventh Son lands in our theaters with a resoundingly dull thud, and while it delivers a couple of fun action sequences, it will likely leave our lives pretty quickly, and only be remembered as a low point on several actors IMDB page.
* STAR WARS!
If you’re in the mood for some mindless CGI fantasy, and some slickly staged battles between various magical creatures, then you might find Seventh Son entertaining. Just don’t expect the plot to make any sense. The movie is rated a family friendly PG-13, so the violence never gets too graphic. This might appeal to a younger audience more.
The visual effects are decent, though hardly groundbreaking, and I enjoyed a couple of the larger action sequences. A cheaper matinée screening is recommended if you can’t wait for the HD rental to watch at home on your TV.
The final battle between the forces of good and evil was actually pretty decent. How all the players in this story get to that point didn’t make any sense, but at least when they arrived, the encounters between dragons, magical leopards and multiple armed sword wielding villains was entertaining to watch.