As you have read me say before…January/February is where you find some really strange movies that the studios have ‘dumped’. They’re too busy pushing re-releases of Oscar flicks and prepping their summer blockbusters (movie ‘summer’ gets earlier and earlier every year, May 1st is Avengers 2 this year) to worry about releasing anything worth watching. You can argue that you will get the odd rom-com on Valentine’s weekend, and lord knows this year you will have to suffer through the overwhelming marketing of the slice of terrible that is 50 Shades of Grey (that’s just my opinion – I tried reading the book, and had to stop halfway through when Grey repeatedly stalks and harasses the female lead, and she finds it charming. He tracks her cell phone for crying out loud! – so no, I’m not going to see that movie. Also – let’s not forget it started as a piece of Twilight fan-fiction – ick. I digress…).
Usually, the early months of the year are reserved for barely entertaining crap. Now – sometimes I find this crap really great – I loved Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters! But even with Ron Perlman, I did not care for Season of the Witch. I bring both those up because they are similar in content, tone, and story to this movie.
Seventh Son features Jeff Bridges, doing the same accent he picked up for True Grit and apparently forgot to drop – since he used it in RIPD and again in this. However, in this – he wraps that accent around an added tweak that makes it seem like he forgot to put in his dentures. I could barely understand him in this movie. In any case, Bridges plays John Gregory – which is confusing, because everyone in the movie calls him Gregory – so you assume that’s his name. He’s bumming around a village with Jon Snow (Kit Harrington is not worried about type-casting, and continues to just play Jon Snow in everything), who is his apprentice, getting drunk and fighting demons, witches, ghouls, and other dark magic-y stuff. A witch he locked away years ago, who is apparently the most powerful witch around, gets loose, possesses a girl, and kills Jon Snow when Gregory tries to fight her.
This prompts Gregory to find another apprentice – which can only be a Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. He finds Prince Caspian (yep – Prince Caspian from the Narnia movies), who is called Tom in this movie, and is plagued with visions – due to being a seventh son of a seventh son. Gregory basically buys him from his father and his mother lets him go, knowing this day was coming. She does give him the charm she wears around her neck. He sets out for some big time demon/witch fight training. Gregory does more drinking, and introduces Tom to his sidekick, Tusk, who is a troll? Or goblin? Or some combination of both? Along the way, while Gregory is drinking, Tom meets a lovely woman named Alice, about to be burned at the stake for being a witch – because she is, in fact, a witch. Well, Tom pays no attention to that, and promptly falls for her. In the meantime, the super powerful witch, who is named Mother Malkin, sets off to rebuild her castle and re-recruit her allies – who all turn into fearsome CGI creatures. As it turns out, the girl that Tom falls for is Malkin’s sister’s daughter and she’s been spying on Gregory for her mother, but her heart’s not really in it. Eventually, it’s revealed that Tom’s mother was a good witch – and incidentally, this is revealed just as Malkin kills her, but – that stone that she gave to Tom is really powerful, and will help him bring her down. She captures Gregory, and Tom and Tusk (although Tusk is not really all that helpful) set out to rescue him. He saves Gregory, who promptly decides to retire, and Tom and Tusk set out to continue the work.
Listen, it’s not a terrible story – it could have been just fine. So why did Hansel and Gretel work for me, but this one did not? Easy – that one knew it was terrible, and everyone in it played up to that, and had a great time with all the nonsense. This one seemed to be close to that, but it never fully committed to silly, which really would have benefitted it.
The Director, Sergey Bodrov, has only Russian credits prior to this, and having never seen anything else by him, I’m not sure if this is typical of him, or something completely different. The cast is impressive for a movie like this.
- Jeff Bridges is an odd choice for Gregory. I seriously cannot imagine why he decided to do it. I also cannot tell if he’s having fun with the role, or if he made actual acting choices. I bet he thinks he’s having fun, but I could have used a little more cutting loose, and for crying out loud – enough with the old-timey prospector accent.
- Ben Barnes is very handsome, and does his best as Tom, but again – I could have used a little more cutting loose. The one fun line, “I’m wishing I were a sixth son.” is funny – but we could have used a little more of that. He’s certainly capable, and looks great in the costumes, but came off just a bit wooden for this type of nonsense.
- Julianne Moore was pretty good as Mother Malkin, but again – just this side of too serious. It was a great opportunity for her to really go at it, and chew all the scenery, but she seems just a bit too reserved. Her costuming was really cool, and hey – she does get to turn into a dragon.
- Alicia Vikander plays the turncoat Alice, and she’s plenty capable too, but if Barnes is wooden, she’s a whole forest. She really needed to have more fun with this.
- Antje Traue plays Malkin’s sister Lizzie, and she also gets to turn into a really cool dragon – and she does get an awesome moment of turning against her sister to protect her daughter, leading to a cool CGI dragon fight.
- Olivia Williams plays Tom’s mother, and plays it very much that she has a secret the whole time, so at no point are you surprised when she is revealed to be a witch. She does get a very brief fight sequence to try to defend a town.
- John DeSantis is the actor under the prosthetics as Tusk, and again – it’s never explained what he is or why he’s there. Gregory is constantly insulting him, but then calling him ‘friend’ right after, so maybe he and Tusk go way back.
- Djimon Hounsou plays Radu – who is basically Korath the pursuer, but with dragon-turning-into abilities. He fights Gregory at the end, and surprise, loses.
- Hey – BSG fans, Kandyse McClure is in this! She plays Sarikin, who is one of Malkin’s allies, but gets no lines, and almost no scenes. She does get to turn into a pretty badass CGI saber-tooth cat of some sort, but I could have used a little more of her.
- The amazing Jason Scott Lee plays Urag – another of Malkin’s minions who manages to get caught by townspeople, even though he is transformed into a giant CGI bear at the time. He’s pretty fantastic in this, and works his scene pretty well – and seems to have a better idea about what the tone should be than anybody else. He’s definitely playing it big and over-the-top, and I wish everyone else was playing it at that level.
- Zahf Paroo plays Virahadra, one of Malkin’s minions who doesn’t transform, but does have four arms, so is a pretty amazing swordsman.
I think that’s one of the issues I had – all the minions were pretty great, and only Urag got his own scene. I could have used more of them, because at least they were visually interesting. The costumes were beautiful, and since the majority of the movie was shot in the forests outside Vancouver – it looks amazing. The training sequence went really quickly, and at no point did we see that Tom was really learning anything. The movie felt too long and too short at the same time. Again – I really felt that if they had pushed more for the silly – it would have been way more entertaining. It’s not terrible, but it’s not great.
6 out of 10, Gained points for the CGI monsters, the cool villains, and Julianne Moore’s costumes. Lost points for Jeff Bridges.
Bonus Video 1: The aforementioned Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters
Bonus Video 2: The aforementioned Season of the Witch
Bonus Video 3: Cast Interviews