|UK Release Date||27th March 2015|
|Starring||Mumblin' Jeff Bridges|
|Reviewed||4th April 2015|
Due to circumstances beyond my control, I have not yet managed to get to The Spongebob Movie: Sponge out of Water. This is distressing me a great deal as you probably imagine. What distressed me more was the stark choice of viewing I had last Thursday. I could either go see Get Hard or Seventh Son. If that isn’t the definition of Hobson’s choice, I really don’t know what is. One coin toss later….
So Seventh Son is Sergey Bodrov’s latest fantasy epic. Nope, me neither but some IMDB work later I can confirm that I have never had the pleasure of watching any of his previous work. I have no idea how he assembled such a stellar cast for this one and I can’t bring myself to spend any more time researching the matter so I’m going to assume that he has something on the studio exec that green-lit this utter dog’s dinner of a movie.
Jeff Bridges is Master Gregory, the only remaining Spook (I shit you not people, that’s actually what the script refers to them as), charged with keeping the land free of witches. He latest apprentice, ten years in the training, is on the receiving end of some particularly nasty finger nails when Gregory’s arch nemesis Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore) busts out of the incredibly poor prison that he had ditched her in ten years previously. Gregory therefore needs a newbie, the seventh son of the title. Actually, the seventh son of a seventh son. Why it must be the seventh of the seventh is never explained but that’s not going to be your primary concern if you’ve ignored this review and paid your money for this one.
Said newbie comes in the form of Ben Barnes’ Tom Ward. Seventh son of Olivia Williams’ Mam Ward. Yup, this movie has so much distaste for its female characters that two out of the three of them don’t even warrant a first name beyond a variation on ‘mother’. The third, Alicia Vikander’s Alice does at least get a first name, though she doesn’t get a huge amount to do with it. Young Tom is employed by Gregory a mere ten days before the pending blood moon gives Mother Malkin a super boost of power so has his ten year training period reduced somewhat. Fortunately, for a lad who has spent his time predominantly caring for pigs, he is a quick learner. Even more fortunately, his training seems to solely revolve around being able to throw a small knife accurately. Something he eventually gets to use on random bad guy fodder. Once.
Meanwhile, Mother Malkin has dropped her granddaughter Alice in as a particularly transparent spy to keep tabs on Gregory and Tom. Well, that’s not strictly true, it’s actually Mother Malkin’s daughter who dealt with that. Kind of witchy middle management. And just as necessary. Tom saves Alice from a pretty accurate lynching and, wouldn’t you know it, they’re quite fond of each other. Awks! I’ve run out of interest in explaining the mess of a plot for this now, suffice to say Mother Malkin is getting the band back together to take over the world. So on one side we have Tom and Gregory the two nice, white male characters saving the world, on the other we have a bunch of female witches and a variety of, shall we say, foreign looking, people who transform into a variety of monsters. The entire set up of this is so hugely dubious it would leave a bad taste even if the rest of the movie was half decent. It is not.
The monsters are actually one of the few good parts of the movie. I’m a massive fan of Ray Harryhausen and the movie pays homage to his work with some style. Check out the gallery below. I’ll let you work out which of the great man’s movies they were pinched from. Beyond that though, it’s pretty difficult to come up with a single positive thing to say about this godawful fantasy disaster. The plot makes no sense, the characters barely register as people and the conclusion is so inevitable you will resent that fact that it took 102 minutes to reach it.
Jeff Bridges seems to have reached a stage in his genuinely illustrious career where he feels the need to mumble everything into a comedy beard, meaning that if the whole thing did make any sense on paper, it certainly doesn’t when filtered through the Bridges mumble. Julianne Moore has a great time camping it up as the wonderfully fingernailed Mother Malkin, a task so spectacularly below her talent that you suspect a large bill was needing to be paid somewhere. Ben Barnes does his best with a mere outline of a character and Alicia Vikander, so brilliant in Ex Machina is relegated to running around in a corset and agonising over sleeping with the enemy.
As for Bodrov and the four (!) writers who cobbling this all together, it’s difficult to work out just how they could have bodged it any more. The whole thing is shot in a weird fuzzy focus and the script regularly belches forward such corkers as ‘Fuckin’ witches’. That’s when you can make out the words through Bridges’ performance. There's a semi-interesting thread in there somewhere revolving around Gregory's hatred of all witches irrespective of their motivations and actions and Tom's battle not to become exactly the same as his master but the movie doesn't really follow through and it soon fizzles out.
I’ve no idea what I was expecting from Seventh Son, maybe a brainless, fun witches n’ wizards tale like they used to make, I don’t know but whatever it was, I didn’t get it. Dull (apart from the fun creatures), incomprehensible, muddled and with a set of characters that could very easily be read as outright offensive, this movie stumbles from one CGI beast fight to the next with none of the playfulness or wit that may just have got it through. If nothing else though it must be in line for some kind of award for squandering the talents of a properly impressive cast. I hope they all got whichever bills they needed paid from this, now if one of them could send me the £10 I spent on the result, I’ll call it quits. Fuckin' witches indeed.