Take a Drink: whenever a character overacts.
Take a Drink: for each Jeff Bridges one-liner.
Take a Drink: every time the score swells.
Do a Shot: when there is bad CGI.
Do a Shot: whenever you feel bad for Jeff Bridges or Julianne Moore.
Take a Drink: for each campy moment.
Do a hot: for Jeff Bridges’ beard.
By: Matt Conway (Five Beers) –
Despite how corny and campy they can be, I really love old-school fantasy films. Don’t get me wrong, newer films like Lord of the Rings are great in their own way, but there is nothing quite like a cheesy sword and sorcery film. The best of the sword and sorcery films came out in the 1980’s, in which underrated cult classics like Labyrinth, Willow, and Clash of the Titans were greatly amusing, using their limited technology to still create fun moments.
However, the genre has been getting a revival more recently, but the films are not up to the same quality as some of the greats. Most of these films are adaptations of young adult novels, trying to entice younger crowds with more lighthearted efforts. There have been a few successes, the most glaring one being the underrated Chronicles of Narnia trilogy, but most of these films are very generic. Films like Eragon, Jack the Giant Slayer, and The Golden Compass have failed to be very fun, instead being quite dull. Sadly, the latest fantasy film Seventh Son falls in the latter category, being a rather trite fantasy film. Based on a novel called The Spook’s Apprentice, Seventh Son follows Tom Ward (Ben Barnes) as an average man who isapprenticed by Master Gregory (Jeff Bridges) in the daunting task of facing the witch Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore).
Like most fantasy films these days, the production design is quite good. The film uses its 95 million dollar budget to its limit, with some great vistas that are seamlessly mixed between live sets and CGI backdrops. These moments get across a real sense of scale, which is crucial in trying to create a unique world.
Perhaps the most marketed aspect about Seventh Son is its action setpieces, which are generally quite amusing. International director Sergei Bodrov does a nice job shooting these scenes, keeping a clear view of what is going on while still displaying their movement. These scenes are amplified by its use of score, which really helps in getting across a swashbuckler vibe.
As usual with any movie he stars in, Jeff Bridges is the highlight. Bridges is doing the typical loose-cannon old coot role that he has been doing for awhile now, but he does it better than anyone. Bridges has a lot of the film’s few highlight moments, with several one-liners that land due to his skilled comedic timing. He is always a joy to watch, even in a sinking ship of a film.
The same can not be said about the rest of the cast, though. The lead here is Ben Barnes, who to me has always been mediocre in the few roles he’s had in movies. Here Barnes is asked to be brave and dashing as Tom, but instead just comes off as bored and generic. Barnes is certainly not helped by the lackluster elements around him, though he in general also needed to put more energy and passion into his role.
Julianne Moore had quite a career year in 2014 and it’s looking like she is going to win Best Actress for her great role in Still Alice. Her 2015, however, is not getting off to a good note with this being one of her worst performances to date. It’s not really her fault, though, as she seems miscast in the role of scene-chewing Mother Malkin. Everybody else in the supporting cast, which features Kit Harrington, Olivia Williams, and Alicia Vikander, have little to do in their respective roles.
The script here is painfully weak. Written by Charles Leavitt and Steven Knight, who have actually written some very good movies in the past, they seem to just be in it for the paycheck here with an extremely lacking effort. All fantasy films set out to create their own unique world, but this film really just half-asses that step. The world presented here is extremely generic and routine, which just shows pure laziness.
Leavitt and Knight also fail to develop a story or characters of interest. Seventh Son follows the same beats that all fantasy films do, with a very general storyline. The simplistic three act structure is incredibly trite, and the film does not add much with a hackneyed romantic subplot that goes nowhere. The story is a vehicle to get from action scene to action scene, rather than having the action enhance the story. I’m a bit nervous considering Leavitt is the sole writer for next year’s Warcraft, as this script here is not a good sign of what’s to come.
Despite the film’s big budget, a majority of the CGI here is rather luckluster. The film was completed over two years ago, but, even considering that, the CGI is not up to the standard of most action films. A lot of the monsters and animals in the film just do not look realistic, which took me out of the film frequently. If you’re going to spend top dollar, at least make it look good.
The film feels so much longer than it is because of that constant repetition. At 102 minutes long, Seventh Son drags endlessly on because of its lackluster story. After the opening exposition, the film essentially goes on a pattern of a quick conversation followed by fighting whatever new creature pops up. Rinse and repeat; it’s just not very interesting to watch.
At the end of the day, Seventh Son can’t even do the simple task of executing generic genre tropes. From the story to the characters, the film misses key aspects of what makes other campy films simple, yet so much fun. Worst of all, Seventh Son has no ambition to do anything above the most basic level, leaving audiences with a product that has no real effort put into it
An early contender to make my Top Ten Worst Movies Of 2015 list, Seventh Son is the worst kind of bad movie to watch. Not only does it not do anything right, but it does not even try to anything unique with the fantasy film genre. Jeff Bridges deserves better than this.