|Starring:||Ben Barnes, Julianne Moore, Jeff Bridges, Alicia Vikander|
|Runtime:||1 hour 42 mins|
|Release Date:||US: 6th Feb 2015
UK: 27th March 2015
|See If You Like:||Hansel & Gretal: Witch Hunters, I, Frankenstein, 47 Ronin|
There have been a lot of mediocre offerings in the fantasy genre over the past few years. For some reason, other than the Lord of the Rings trilogy, very few fantasy films seem to be able to combine mystical worlds and creatures with a well written script, decent acting and emotional relevance – leaving us with nothing but emotionally dead, atrociously acted films with clichéd and ridiculous scripts. Seventh Son is one of the worst examples of this.
Based on Joseph Delaney’s YA novel ‘The Spook’s Apprentice’, the film follows Master John Gregory (Jeff Bridges, Tron: Legacy) as he sets out on a quest to enlist country bumpkin Tom (Ben Barnes, Dorian Grey) as his apprentice and take down his ferocious arch enemy Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore, Non-Stop) before she unleashes destruction upon the world.
Seventh Son could have been a nice offering for a teen fantasy audience, but the films creators decided to drastically alter the age of the main character (Ben Barnes does not make the most convincing 12 year old), shifting the tone of the story. And tone is something it simply does not grasp.
The actors are like a choir singing out of tune, showing a complete lack of control from director Sergei Bodrov. Barnes is bland and lifeless as the main protagonist, showing absolutely no effort to emote in anything less than superficial ways. Next to Bridges completely over acted caricature of a person, the contrast is much too jarring. Bridges over powers the rest of the cast uncomfortably, like a loud drunk uncle at a wedding speaking a funny voice for no reason. While his are some of the only lines providing a bit of light humour so I understand the desire to not take the man to seriously, the way he plays his character would have better suited to a Monty Python sketch.
Moore, fresh in our minds after winning her first Oscar for ‘Still Alice’, does what she can to shine (and does look gorgeous). But ultimately, she achieves nothing more than a predictable and unoriginal villain cameo while playing dress up.
The script is not diabolical, but incredibly limp. As is the romantic sub plot between Barnes and newcomer Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina) as witches daughter Alice. Although proving herself to be quite captivating in previous films, none of the charm and intrigue that other directors have been able to capture can be found here. The two have little to no chemistry, making it difficult to route for them or care about them at all.
Everything else about the film that you would expect to be key discussion points for the fantasy genre (i.e. the special effects, the setting, the costumes, the soundtrack) can all be summed up with one phrase – ‘Below average’. In fact, in places the effects were shockingly bad, and the costumes often unnecessarily bizarre. When you come to a scene where witches are fighting alongside a CGI dinosaur and a six armed creature resembling a Hindu god, you know you can’t shake the feeling this is all just a train wreck.
It is not a film worth seeing at the cinema, nor buying on DVD. It might just about be worth leaving on the TV if it comes on and there’s nothing better to watch.