Director: Sergei Bodrov
Cast: Ben Barnes, Jeff Bridges, Julianne Moore, Alicia Vikander, Olivia Williams, Djimon Hounson, Antje Traue, Kit Harrington
Plot: When a blood moon signifies the return of a powerful witch (Moore), witch-hunter Master Gregory (Bridges) seeks out a new apprentice (Barnes).
Fantasy films are far and few in between. The best ones are masterpieces, the Lord of the Rings perhaps earning the place as the best fantasy films out there, movie perfection in their own right. Other entries are less successful, an Eragon trilogy shot down after the first attempt and Clash of the Titans failing to summon up the correct atmosphere. Sadly, Seventh Son is yet another swing and miss, as yet another director tries to give us a tale of dragons, witches and destiny without truly understanding how to go about it.
As with all fantasy films, there are some good points buried beneath the rubbish. For one, I was very interested in the fact that the cast are asked to perform with American accents. Fantasy is a genre usually delivered with an English dialect. Game of Thrones is filled with Brits, for example. It isn’t as though the cast aren’t capable of giving us a good English accent. Olivia Williams and Kit Harrington are Brits themselves and we all know that Alicia Vikander’s English accent is up there with whale music and the sound of fruit machine winnings falling into your hands on the scale of things we most want to listen to. That tells me that somewhere along the line a decision was made to make this fantasy film American, giving the States their own foray into the genre. It is just a shame that Seventh Son is a poor vehicle to try and start this trend with. I want to put most of the fault down to the director, because he doesn’t seem to understand what the audience want to see. Yes, special effects should be a priority with this kind of movie. Seventh Son is bursting to the brim with mythical creatures and spectacles that it is important to do justice. Julianne Moore and her lackeys have the ability to transform into a number of awe-inspiring creatures from various dragons to giant bears. A mid-act fight with the troll-like Boggart is also made fairly splendid due to an impressive use of CGI. However, these scenes are the equivalent of a firework display. Pretty and wondrous to behold, but in the blink of an eye, they are gone and we have moved on. And it is in between the fireworks, where Seventh Son falls apart.
One problem is that the fantasy genre seems to be stapled together by the same old plotline. In defence to Bodrov, he is working with a novel, rather than his own original screenplay, but the problems remain. A wise, old mentor, the last of an order of monster-slayers no less, has to take on a powerful enemy, so he decides to recruit an apprentice. That apprentice is a clueless farmhand, who slowly embraces his destiny via a falling out with his mentor, an ill-advised romance and a mandatory training montage. Sometimes the simple stories are the best and if that is going to be the foundation of your movie, so be it. However, there is nothing three-dimensional going on here. It is suggested that Master Gregory is so blinded by his hate for Julianne Moore’s super-witch that he is capable of murdering innocent women, cursed with the ability to use magic. For a brief moment, it looked like we were going to explore whether the bad guys were bad guys, or just a group of witches banding together out of survival. But nope, having scene-chewing bad guys is more fun, so let’s go with that, the writers cry. It means that Alicia Vikander is wasted as a love interest and femme fatale, the actress miles better than the material and never given a chance to show it. Bodrov holds too much faith in Jeff Bridge’s character, who is asked to deliver the majority of the jokes, action set-pieces and exposition. To summarise Bridge’s performance is a cross between Gandalf and an alcoholic, tied together with an attempt at Tom Hardy’s accent in Dark Knight Rises. It is fun in places, stupid in others. Halfway through, you stop caring.
Final Verdict: It is watchable enough, but has no depth and for a genre that hasn’t got many entries, oddly enough you have seen it all before.