Did you ever want to see award winning veteran actors spout supernatural gibberish? You got it. Want predictable story lines? This movie has the subtlety of a bar fight. How about cliché characters? Seventh Son uses all of them. Seventh Son is for every person who thought the Dungeons and Dragons movie just needed some bigger names attached to it to make it a fantasy classic.
Take a crusty, foul-tempered old knight; throw in equal parts anger, regret, and alcoholism, top it off with an accent that sounds like Rooster Cogburn with lockjaw and you get yourself Master Gregory, played by Academy award winning actor Jeff Bridges. The last remaining Spook, a knightly order dedicated to tending to the world of the supernatural, he operates as trainer and reluctant mentor to the hero of our tale, Tom Ward, played by Ben Barnes of Prince Caspian fame.
Tom is the eponymous “seventh son of a seventh son” and it is obvious from the beginning that he is this world’s “Chosen One”. A reluctant hero with a mysterious past and skill set that seems useless until the right moment, Tom is about as stock a character as you can get. His strengths are too predictable and his mistakes are obvious long before the consequences are revealed. This makes for a character that is really hard to root for. Every time he is the focus of a scene you are praying for Jeff Bridges and his indecipherable accent to return just to distract you from the mediocrity.
The two of them are on a quest to defeat Mother Malkin, played by Julianne Moore. An all-powerful witch queen who has a history with Master Gregory (of course), her plan for world domination hinges on waiting until the blood moon rises so that she and her sister witch, Bony Lizzie (Antje Traue), can take over the world of humans. All pretty standard fantasy stuff.
To top off our cliché sundae we have Alice (Alicia Vikander), the daughter of Bony Lizzie and Tom’s love interest. Most of the movie is spent trying to decide who she is going to betray and when it is going to happen. The Chekov’s Gun of our story comes in the form of an amulet given to Tom by his mother. This thing is shown every few minutes, just in case you thought it was unimportant and forgot about it. Again, subtlety thy name is “Seventh Son”. Without getting too spoiler-y here, this thing has Deus Ex Machina written all over it from the moment it appears on screen.
The whole movie has a very roleplaying game-ish feeling to it. I would expect to see this being played out at a local game store at a table littered with Mountain Dew cans and Cheetos. I have never read the book this is based on, but I have to believe that it is paced and written better than this. I get the feeling this was a desperate cash grab, hoping for success because the series has a ton of books, thus a potential for sequels to take in money hand over fist. They seem to have forgotten that making something popular into a movie doesn’t guarantee success. It still needs to have some effort put into it. I think the true disappointment in this movie is the wasted potential. In the right hands it could have been a great fantasy epic; instead it is destined to the bottom of the bargain bin at Wal-Mart.
Effort seems to have been put into the action at least. Story and characters aside, the fight scenes are where this movie shines. I don’t need well written lines to watch Jeff Bridges ram swords into monsters. I just need to see some blood and maybe an explosion or two. Most of the fights are fun, decently choreographed, and interesting. The monsters and Mother Malkin’s lieutenants are well designed, having a good cool factor and offer some diversity. Whether it is a fight with a were-bear or a four armed swordsman, Seventh Son at least keeps the action entertaining. Not as frequent as I would have expected or liked, it is still a welcome refrain from the rest of the movie.
But now for the kicker: overall I really liked this movie. It may not seem like it after I tore it a new one for the last 600 words, but I found the campy feel of the movie to be great fun. The overacting of our leads was spectacularly cheesy. They chewed the scenery with a fervor rarely seen outside of an Uwe Boll movie. I am not sure what dark pact was made to get this thing the cast that it had, but someone is out a soul and probably had to sacrifice a goat. Either that or a huge portion of the 95 million dollar budget went to casting. Everyone looks like they had fun overacting and I don’t expect that anyone involved took it too seriously. It is a movie that you can turn off your brain and just embrace the corn. This is not high cinema folks, but it is enjoyable garbage. If you enjoyed movies like “Dungeons and Dragons” and “In The Name of the King” you will probably get a kick out of this.