I grew up on fantasy movies. Movies like Legend, Willow, Conan the Barbarian or The Princess Bride. Not all of them are great, or even good movies, but I loved them all the same. Swords and sorcery was my jam. When I see something like Seventh Son in theaters, something that appears to be something of a throwback, I can’t help but get a little excited. Even though I had no expectation that Seventh Son would be a good movie, I did hope it would be a fun one. Even that hope was dashed. Seventh Son hovers uncomfortable between misplaced gravitas and campy fun. Its humorlessness and weightlessness dim its slight charms. Still, just enough fun shines through that I can’t be disappointed to have seen it.
The movie opens with Sir Gregory trapping a woman, Mother Malkin the witch, down a hole, then her escaping when the moon turns red. When Gregory, the Spook, a man who hunts witches and other such beings, loses his apprentice in another confrontation with her, he must seek out another one. Since only the seventh son of a seventh son can become a Spook, his options are limited. And he must train this new apprentice fast, since if they can’t defeat Mother Malkin before the Blood Moon is full then she will conquer the land. It should be a simple quest, but it gets rather muddled.
The sole reason to watch this film is Jeff Bridges. His Sir Gregory manages to be both off putting and charming, some ungodly mix of Gandalf and The Dude that sounds like Sean Connery. He drinks and struts and quips his way through every scene, while leading man Ben Barnes’ Tom takes everything so seriously. Really, his over serious romance with the ambiguously allied Alice is the unbeating heart at the center of this movie. Julianne Moore comes close to matching Bridges weird energy, but her underbaked but interestingly designed allies don’t have much to work with.
The real problem with Seventh Son is that no matter what fantastic thing is happening on screen, it manages to make it feel dull. One can becomes deadened to CGI effects, but Seventh Son’s are more than fine. But the fight scenes lack rhythm and weight. They just sort of happen. When a fight scene bogs down, then a convenient cliff is found for everyone to leap or fall off of, though this rarely results in any great harm. Moments that should be full of emotion are instead completely devoid of it. When a character’s loved one dies, you expect an emotional reaction, not just a cold acceptance of the fact of their death. Discovering a betrayal results in a few seconds of confusion. Somehow it makes an aerial battle between two dragons boring.
The film also lacks a comprehensible sense of geography. The bulk of the action takes place in misty green mountains, on the rocky crags and mirrored lakes. But they visit a city that is emebeded into the wall of a desert mesa. Yet this city seems to somehow be the one closest to the rest of the action. They ride horse a lot, but never seen to actually go anywhere. There is no progression to their travels.
Despite all the problems, Bridges almost carries Seventh Son to being worth watching. He clashes with everyone else in the movie, save Moore, but his take is much more entertaining than theirs. If his oddball charm had been complimented by something, anything exciting then I think I could recommend this as a piece of entertaining trash, something like Dragonheart’s enjoyable badness. There just isn’t enough joy to be had here. It squanders whatever charms it might have had and results in a movie that, while not as brain dead stupid as many blockbusters, is unfortunately dull.