After what seems like an eternity, the fantasy adaptation Seventh Son has finally landed in theaters. Was the film worth the wait, or is it just another failed fantasy flick on a heap of broken dreams?
Unfortunately, the answer is more the latter. Loosely based on the novel The Spook’s Apprentice by Joseph Delaney, the story is pedestrian as best, liberally borrowing from other, much better, films. The most notable influence here is Star Wars, but the main character of Tom (Ben Barnes) is nowhere near as compelling as Luke Skywalker.
Tom is the seventh son of a seventh son, making him ripe to serve as the new apprentice of Gregory (Jeff Bridges), a warrior—or spook—that deals with all manner of magical and supernatural foes like witches, dragons, and ghosts. One such witch, Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore), has been freed from her long imprisonment and is gaining strength with the rising of the blood moon. Gregory, who captured Malkin in the first place, is tasked with defeating her and her lieutenants. He’ll need help, which leads him to recruit Tom. However, Tom is not an ordinary seventh son. He has visions of the future, which lead him to rescue and fall in love with a beautiful young witch named Alice (Alicia Vikander). Unfortunately, Alice is a spy for Malkin and her true allegiance can never be determined. The race is on to defeat Malkin before the red moon comes full, or else darkness will cover the land.
That may sound like an interesting and exciting story, but there is nothing exciting about Seventh Son. The story is driven mainly by coincidence and a cast that is kind of going through the motions. Some of them show life here and there, but the film really is just a weak Star Wars retread. The best thing I can say about Seventh Son is that it is mildly entertaining, but that’s it. Some of the effects are pretty good, but no one is ever really developed beyond being a shell of a character. The love subplot between Alice and Tom isn’t really compelling, though Vikander is quite a vision, and the backstory between Malkin and Gregory is really just glossed over. It seems like director Sergey Bodrov is really only interested in getting to the next monster fight as opposed to really taking time with these characters. However, that could also be a deficiency in the source material—I haven’t read it or any others in Delaney’s series. Finally, the ending is so anti-climactic, I couldn’t believe the film was over.
The cast does the best they can with what they’re given. Bridges is nearly unintelligible at the start of the film, but Gregory feels like a riff on his character from R.I.P.D. and we all know how well that turned out. Barnes is a good-looking leading man, but he doesn’t really do anything here. He just seems bored or trying desperately to maintain his inexplicable American accent. Moore is fine as Malkin, but the filmmakers don’t really give her the opportunity to really chew some scenery. Vikander was intriguing as Alice, but that’s only because it felt like she had more to give in an under-written role. Looking forward to seeing more of her in this year’s Ex Machina.
Overall, Seventh Son might be a nice little diversion if you catch it on cable someday, but it’s entertainment value is so limited, it’s not worth going out to the theater. Someday, Hollywood will produce another great fantasy epic in line with The Lord of the Rings trilogy, but it is not this day.