I felt bad going after Jupiter Ascending because while it’s a deeply flawed film, at least the Wachowskis showed some ambition and sincerity in making it. Click here for my review. I don’t feel bad at all about crapping on Seventh Son because it’s a cynical piece of cinematic garbage. Based on Joseph Delaney’s YA/fantasy novel The Spook’s Apprentice, Seventh Son is what happens when a guy in a board meeting says, “Kids sure do like Harry Potter. Make me something like that.” At no point did anyone involved in this movie care about it as anything other than a product. You shouldn’t care about it, either. It’s a complete waste of time.
The story is not that complicated. There’s an evil witch, and some monsters, and it’s up to the Chosen One to stop the evil witch (ISN’T IT ALWAYS?). For some reason, the Chosen One has to be the seventh son of a seventh son. This is never explained. I was expecting there to be some kind of legend, like “once upon a time, a seventh son did something that resulted in a gift/curse,” but no. It’s just like—first son inherits, second son is a priest, seventh son gets chucked at a witch. This is a common trope in folklore, but it has to be the seventh son in an unbroken line of male children, because women, they always ruin everything. And then the seventh sons gang up on the evil witch—always a woman—in order to restore the balance of power by putting men back in control. In the 21st century, could someone please update this idea?
Incidental misogyny aside, Seventh Son has a host of problems. The biggest is that this is not a real movie but a trap designed to separate you from your money (don’t fall for it!). Another big problem is the acting. As in, it’s universally terrible. Jeff Bridges enters “Nicholas Cage I-don’t-give-a-f*ck-anymore” territory, with line readings so mush-mouthed he’s nearly unintelligible for most of the film. Julianne Moore as evil witch Mother Malkin attempts a scenery-chewing performance a la Charlize Theron in Snow White and the Huntsman but falls short. She’s just not that kind of actress. And Ben Barnes as the titular seventh son has no more presence than a piece of soggy toast.
Other problems include overly complicated mythology—knock it off with the ghoulies and the ghastlies and just get back to the witch hunting—and a confusingly short time frame. Soggy Toast goes from a limp farm boy with no worldly experience to a master monster slayer in like, two days. This happens a lot in movies—usually bad ones—where the Chosen One learns their skill in a ridiculously short period of time, but it’s especially noticeable here, and it’s because of stuff like Harry Potter. It took Harry years of schooling to get even remotely close to good enough to face Voldemort and he still almost failed. Apparently in the book series this first story ends with an escape, not a confrontation. But the movie goes straight to the big boss fight, and it feels totally unearned.
Another problem is that this movie is not aimed at children. Given that it derives from a YA fantasy series, I was floored by the amount of violence and that one of the few intelligible words Bridges utters is “f*ck”. Had the approach been a fantasy adventure in the style of Ray Harryhausen in which Soggy Toast learns to stand up to bullies, Seventh Son might have been a passable kids’ movie. But instead they made this, which appeals to no one. Seriously, I have no idea who the audience for this movie is supposed to be. It’s too dour for the little kids who like the books, but it’s too kiddie for adults. Seventh Son was delayed for two years, and during all that time not one person could figure out who to sell their sh*tty movie to? The obvious answer is “children”, as the books intended, but they seem determined not to do that.
Everything about Seventh Son is wrong. The tone is wrong, the casting is wrong, the director’s decisions are all wrong. There is some decent cinematography from Newton Thomas Sigel (Drive), but it’s utterly wasted on boringly choreographed, poorly executed fight sequences. I swear in one scene Soggy Toast swings his sword three entire feet to the left of his intended target and the monster still reacts as if it was struck. The weirdly convoluted story relies on so many fantasy clichés it plays like a parody of itself. Seventh Son is bound to go down in the annals of Bad Movie History as one of the most soulless, joyless pieces of genre filmmaking in recent history.
Attached - Bridges at MusicCares with his wife last week.