Seventh Son Review
Having flopped heavily in the U.S. box office, Seventh Son has finally slumped into UK cinemas: though an intended franchise-launching adaptation of the immensely popular Wardstone Chronicles book series, I have massive doubts that the remaining projects will ever get off the ground, and here’s why:
At the centre of the film is young L̶u̶k̶e̶ ̶S̶k̶y̶w̶a̶l̶k̶e̶r̶ Thomas Ward (Ben Barnes), a farm boy swept away from his home by elderly sorcerer O̶b̶i̶-̶W̶a̶n̶ ̶K̶e̶n̶o̶b̶i̶ Gregory (Jeff Bridges). Gregory plans to unlock Thomas’ full potential in the hopes of defeating black leather-clad villain D̶a̶r̶t̶h̶ ̶V̶a̶d̶e̶r̶ Mother Malkin, an evil witch bent on laying waste to entire worlds with the aid of the D̶e̶a̶t̶h̶ ̶S̶t̶a̶r̶ Blood Moon. See what I’m getting at? However popular or original the story of the book might be, the story of the film is a slapped-together mishmash of each and every ‘hero’s journey’ story we’ve all seen before.
But even an unoriginal story can be saved by good performances, subversive plot elements or even visual flair: none of these are present in Seventh Son. The plot is by-the-numbers, post-Game of Thrones questing, and the visuals are an uninteresting blend of perfectly adequate production design and a torrent of CGI trickery. When we reach the stage where a human morphing into a dragon before burning a city to the ground is dull, something is very, very wrong.
The less said about the performances the better, but I had to sit through them for almost two hours so you’re getting it all: Ben Barnes is a charisma vacuum as our young hero, whilst Julianne Moore has clearly been taking lessons from Eddie Redmayne in the ‘get nominated for Oscar, burn career’ course. Alicia Vikander is also treated very badly, trussed-up in lots of tight outfits and given dialogue that is ripe and then some.
However, the centrifugal force dragging everyone else down with it is Jeff Bridges. Whoever told him his decision to speak like Bane in The Dark Knight Rises midway through a pie-eating contest was a good idea ought to be thoroughly ashamed of themselves for allowing a once-great (and still occasionally enjoyable) actor to make a fool of himself. Whilst we’re on the subject of Bridges’ Hardy-esque mumbling, how on Earth has Locke director Steven Knight lowered himself to such depths in a screen-writing credit here? Have the film-makers got something on him? Did he lose a bet? Whatever the reason, his heart is not in it: no screenplay worth its salt could make a scene between Jeff Bridges, Julianne Moore and Kit Harington a reason to complain.
I notice that several reviewers have taken against the film’s portrayal of women (i.e. that they are all untrustworthy and evil), but such Seventh Son is such a poor, forgettable effort that it doesn’t even warrant any criticism that peers beneath the surface. From its Vaseline-smeared cinematography to its plodding story and laughable star turns, it’s rotten to the core. There’s no humour, no thrills and no fun.