With an opening that promised something approaching a fun Dino Laurentiis High Adventure fantasy, Seventh Son turned out to be another Season of the Witch. Boo.
Jeff Bridges is a ‘spook’, a boozy knight devoted to ridding the land of witches. Witches like Julianne Moore’s Mother Malkin, a dragon-witch who presides over other dark creates (like Djimon Hounsou’s giant lizard and Antje Traue’s dragon) who together plan to take over the world come the first Blood Moon (or something). Bridges isn’t having any of that and, along with new apprentice Ben Barnes (conveniently called John Ward), sets about stabbing, immolating and generally being unpleasant to anyone who can conjure up a spell. But then Barnes has to go and complicate things by falling for half-witch Alicia Vikander…
Adapted from Joseph Delaney’s The Spook’s Apprentice (the first in The Wardstone Chronicles), this is a very wordy action fantasy. Bardov (Mongol) is in such a rush to get through the material the audience doesn’t have a chance to take anything in. There are amulets and talismans and staffs and all have special powers and all have backstories and all must be explained. As do the revelations and interrelationships. Everything unfolds through dialogue and none of it registers. Maybe that’s because before anyone has a chance to assess the ramifications of new plot information, there’s an attack by a giant shape-shifting bear or a giant troll and it’s time to run again.
The Chose One story-by-numbers would be forgivable if Bardov injected any enthusiasm into his fight scenes. Bar one exciting dash involving a ‘boggart’ the action is as bland as the dialogue. The CGI isn’t up to snuff either.
But it can be funny and Bridges is up for it. Given the best lines, his bearded face is hypnotic as he moves every facial muscle for every cotton-mouthed syllable. When he’s on screen Seventh Son is passable, when he’s not Barnes and Vikander making goo-goo eyes at each doesn’t cut the mustard and Moore falls short of pulling off the regal-evil thing - has anyone since Jean Marsh in Willow?
Not terrible but we’re looking at another Eragon/Golden Compass here - we’ll not see the new instalment any time soon.