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Saturday, February 7, 2015

Seventh Son Is An Epic Mess (Movie Review)

Seventh Son:  1 out of 5

Gregory: F***ing Witches.

Seventh Son is a mess of familiar ideas, talented actors, and competent (but mostly ugly) visual effects; all brought together into one horrible movie.  There are various ways to approach a review for a movie like this, most of which involve making fun of it, and honestly, this is the kind of movie that has been lined up to be made fun of.  Having never looked all that engaging and finally being released after a two-year delay, it is not as if I expected something truly memorable.  At the same time though, Seventh Son is a film so blinded by the thought that looking expensive equals awesome movie that it makes any admittedly cool sight, such as a warrior with four arms, completely devoid of the charm one could find in similar hack-and-slash medieval adventures of yesteryear.  Simply put: this film is awful.


Jeff Bridges brings yet another new layer to his True Grit accent in an effort to bring Master John Gregory, the Spook, to life.  In this film and the book series it was inspired by, a spook is essentially a witch hunter.  Master Gregory is seemingly one of the last and clearly the best of his kind.  He moves from town to town, getting drunk and burning witches with his apprentice Billy (Kit Harington); that is until he learns that his former flame/so-evil-she-has-red-dreadlocks witch woman, Malkin (Julianne Moore), has escaped her imprisonment and now plans to get her revenge (and probably take over the world or something too, it’s a little hazy, as far as overall witch plans go).  This leads to the death of Gregory’s apprentice, forcing him to seek out his next, who comes in the form of Tom Ward (Ben Barnes), the seventh son of a seventh son.  Witch slaying-training and adventure ensues.

As with any film, the approach is key, and while Seventh Son has the outline of a familiar hero’s journey story, almost nothing works thanks to passive work done to separate this story from anything that has come before it, poor dialogue with only mere attempts to make it better through a brilliantly bad Jeff Bridges performance, a bland lead character, a non-engaging villain (despite her fabulous make-up and costume design), a laughable excuse for a co-starring female character/romantic interest, and action sequences robbed of any urgency, given how ineffective all of the so-called baddies seem to be at capturing and killing and old drunkard and his young apprentice who has had all of a day to train in the art of throwing small knives at things.


At this point, the notion would be for one to either avoid this film in its entirety, go see it and enjoy Seventh Son for being ‘so bad it’s good’, or to go out, watch it, and come back with a response such as, “Oh come on, it wasn’t that bad.”  To speak to that last crowd, good on you for spending the money or time to find a level of enjoyment in this awful film.  I would much rather see the efforts of all of these actors/filmmakers (including director Sergei Bodrov, who made the brilliant Mongol) put to much better use, which amounted to a film that the average movie goer could have been really wowed by, rather than just accepting of something they won’t think about after the next generic film that comes as the result of this and films like this continuing to be funded, thanks to the success of uninspired mediocrity or worse.  It is a cycle I dislike more than witches.

Getting back to the film, I mentioned earlier a warrior with four arms.  The fact that this thing’s screentime essentially amounts to just enough moments to put into a trailer and onto a poster for Seventh Son, it seems clear enough how little effort there was in assembling a final version of this film that allowed for an audience to invest in this universe.  That is what garners Seventh Son a rating that is worse than just middling.  All of these cool ideas, sets, and creature designs are wasted, because the film does not know what to do with them.  Apparently, the logic was, “who cares about intrigue, when we can just hand Tom the Hero a magic staff and have him kill everything in the same way.”  Well I cared and not even Jeff Bridges attempting to distract me with his accent, facial hair, and bug-eyed reaction shots was enough to keep me laughing along with the film’s incompetence.


So here we are, the latest fantasy novel-based adventure film with a bland lead, a couple big name stars, and decent visuals once again does nothing to expand upon the cinematic landscape.  It gives the target audience something to look at in between the next big (and presumably better) blockbuster and the films they already know and love, while I do my best to justify why it is not simply okay to write it off as “meh” or “guilty pleasure”.  There are “bad” films that do this well.  Seventh Son is just a bad movie.


Gregory: *Medieval alcohol drinking noises*


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