Note: I originally posted this on my blog, Strange Birds.
Cast: Ben Barnes, Jeff Bridges, Julianne Moore, Alicia Vikander
Director: Sergei Bodrov
About: Young Thomas (Ben Barnes) is apprenticed to the local Spook (Jeff Bridges) to learn to fight evil spirits. His first great challenge comes when the powerful Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore) escapes her confinement while the Spook is away.
I'll just say it first and foremost: I liked the book better. I know it gets said all the time, about most movies based of books. But I don't only like the book better because the movie strayed too far from the book, which is often the case when somebody says they liked the book better (and while the movie does stray quite a bit, I'll get to that in a moment), but simply because the characters and plot of the book was better, and the acting wasn't all that great.
When I said that plot of the book was better, I meant more original. I feel like the plot of the movie is rather clichéd; you have the Spook and his apprentice slowly making their way to the witch's castle while killing her lieutenants, who weren't in the book. In fact, there is almost no similarity between the plots of the book and the movie; not always a bad thing, but I didn't like it in this case, but a large amount of my dislike of this movie came from the character changes.
I seriously docked a star off the movie because of the changes in the characters. Now, I didn't mind the fact that they movie creators took Tom and Alice (the niece of Mother Malkin and played by Alicia Vikander) and made them sixteen or seventeen rather than thirteen. That kind of thing I'm usually fine with if it works, and in this case, it did. My main issue was with Tusk, the Spook, and Alice, although for a different reason than her age. Regarding Tusk, his role changed drastically from book to movie. In the book, Tusk worked for Bony Lizzie, Alice's mother and Mother Malkin's sister, but in the movie, he basically replaced the Spook's boggart. The change didn't really make sense, but it wasn't as drastic of a change as that in the Spook. In the book, the Spook buried witches he had captured alive in a pit beneath thirteen iron bars, and he buried dead witches headfirst so they had a harder time getting out of the ground if their spirit still occupied their body, which happened often. He didn't stand by burning witches. In the movie, however, the Spook willingly burned Mother Malkin in a cage, and he yelled at Tom when he refused to burn one of Malkin's lieutenants. This pretty much betrays most of the Spook's principals from the book; while I didn't mind the change in Tusk too much, I highly disliked such a large change in a major character. When it comes to Alice, in the book she did more than just come in and out to distract Tom; she actually mattered before the end of the story. In the movie, she didn't really do much of anything.
When I said that the acting left something to be desired, I didn't mean these aren't good actors; I've never seen most of them before, but Jeff Bridges is seriously the first thing that drew me to this movie. I think that the issue with the acting here was the fact that some if it just seemed strained. A few lines sounded forced here and there, and some of the stunts looked odd, as in obviously fake. I mean, I doubt that the producers actually found a fifteen-foot tall boggart to smash the cart Tom and the Spook were in, but still.
Concerning the plot of the movie itself, I think that it was rather cliche with how Mother Malkin escaped; she got the power to escape her pit when the blood moon began to rise. The rising of the blood moon only occurs once every century, and the powers of dark creatures and witches increase as the moon gets fuller. One interesting aspect of the movie was the way that Mother Malkin, Bony Lizzie, and one of the lieutenants are able to turn into dragons, and some of the other lieutenants can transform as well.
All in all, Seventh Son was a decent movie. As you will see in my post on Thursday about how to judge a movie based off a book, I usually put more emphasis on whether the movie does the book justice rather than if it's a faithful adaption, but I think that this was just too far off. There were a few clichés, and Alice's character didn't really do anything until the end of the movie. I'd say that Seventh Son might be a movie to wait until you can rent and see it at home rather than go to the theater o see it.