Sunday, 13 September 2015

Seventh Son

I've said this before, but give me the chance to watch a fantasy movie- ANY fantasy movie- and I'll jump at it. I love great fantasy movies like The Lord of the Rings, Pan's Labyrinth and Conan the Barbarian, but I also love not so great fantasy movies like Yor Hunter of the Future, Troll 2 and Conan the Destroyer. I never really regret watching a fantasy film even if it's shit, so when I decided to review this latest fantasy flick, I went into it looking for fun, monsters and Jeff Bridges mumbling incoherently under a moustache. It's not perfect, but I got what I was looking for.

Directed by Sergei Bodrov and out now on DVD and Blu-Ray comes Seventh Son, a fantasy movie that's largely unoriginal, somewhat boring, but manages to dish out some fun in the way of monsters, explosions and the presence of Jeff Bridges. Based upon The Spook's Apprentice, the first book in the ever growing Wardstone Chronicles, Seventh Son has one of those plots that ends up going right over your head. There's the usual stuff you'd expect/want from a generic fantasy movie- witches, a sexy half-witch woman thing, the young unsure yet powerful apprentice, an old badass teacher character and enough CGI monsters that it'll all make your head spin. To be exact though, Jeff Bridges plays a “Spook”; a knight who is tasked with wiping out witches across the world. Ben Barnes plays John Ward, the new apprentice (the old one died, naturally) to the ageing Spook, and they soon find themselves tasked with putting a stop to the evil plans being concocted by Mother Malkin, a powerful witch.

Seventh Son is OK, which itself is a little disappointing because two of its leads are two of my favourite actors ever. First up you have Jeff Bridges playing the Master Gregory. Though the comparison is probably used by a lot of reviewers out there, he's certainly not some Obi Wan type of figure. He's anything but a lone respectful ageing warrior who has taken immense time and contemplation about who his apprentice is. F*ck no! Bridges plays a drunkard who's crass, annoying and cranky. Though he pays a good bit of money to take John under his wing, he doesn't fully believe that the boy has potential, and he's pretty vocal about this throughout most of the movie. Bridges plays Gregory as good as Bridges can, and though you'll often struggle to hear exactly what he's saying sometimes, his performance is over-the-top and pretty fun. Then you have Seventh Son's other shining light- Julianne Moore. I love Julianne Moore in everything she does. If Julianne Moore did a movie in which she sat there reading aloud Twilight, The Hunger Games and 50 Shades of Grey over the course of 7 hours, I'd watch it. In Seventh Son she plays a very badass witch who is essentially trying to bring about apocalyptic doom upon the world, and she plays her role brilliantly. Sure, her dialogue isn't exactly fresh or interesting what with overdone lines such as “THE WORLD OF MEN WILL FALL!”, but it's hard not to like her here.

Outside of Bridges and Moore I'm really starting to struggle to think of ways to compliment Seventh Son. The overall look of the movie is pretty nice, and though a lot of this falls in line with 99% of other fantasy movies out there, there's a fair few cool monster designs used in Seventh Son. They're mostly showcased during an attack on a city near the end of the movie, with some of the better designs being a fantastically awesome four armed guy brandishing multiple swords, and Radu played by the wonderful Djimon Hounsou, a powerful warlock who can transform into a dragon. Yeah, the CGI isn't the best in some areas, but there's a lovely sense of imagination in the monsters and the world in which they inhabit in Seventh Son.

That said, Seventh Son does have its problems. The plot drags in a fair few places, and as soon as John begins to fall in love with the character of Alice who is a half-witch, a very misguided and unwanted Romeo and Juliet love affair begins to cook up. It's completely unneeded and simply only manages to get in the way of the action, Jeff Bridges' performance and Jeff Bridges doing some action. Then there's the script which, while perfectly serviceable throughout the movie, is absolutely ridden with fantasy clich├ęs. Seventh Son ultimately comes together as a pretty wonky and generic fantasy flick only held up by its two leads and its decent creature design. That said, despite how generic it may be, Seventh Son is a pretty fun adventure. Most critics have it wrong about how bad it is. It ain't perfect, but 12% on Rotten Tomatoes?! Movie critics are gobshites!... oh wait.

Seventh Son isn't great, but not as bad as they say. 3/5.


Denis Murphy

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