In recent years, Hollywood has been churning out quite a number of lazy fantasy action epics (like Pompeii) who seem to be trying too hard to repeat the success of The Lord of the rings & Harry Potter franchises. Frankly, its not easy to point out which one is worse than the other & this film is no exception! Based on Joseph Delaney’s series of bestselling books, this film has been facing its own set of hurdles before hitting the screens, mainly the studio dump by Warner Bros due to the deal break with Legendary followed by the under marketing of Legendary’s new partner Universal! Despite the presence of A-listers Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore with ‘The Chronicles of Narnia:Prince Caspian’ star Ben Barnes the film fails hard mainly due to the tawdry sets and second-rate visual effects. The story begins with a young John Gregory (Jeff Bridges) imprisoning the Queen Witch, Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore) up in the mountains. After decades, when the once-a-century blood moon arrives, she escapes & on the way to her castle (or den maybe?) kills a now older Master Gregory’s apprentice Billy (Kit Harington). As a result Gregory sets out recruiting a new “seventh son of a seventh son”, Thomas (Barnes), who so happens to be suffering from elliptic visions of Gregory and Malkin. Well of course, Thomas is The Chosen One, the anointed protege who under the guidance of Master Gregory will become his very equal and take his place among the elite group of knights who call themselves the Falcon. There is no doubt during the movie, even when his life seems to be in mortal danger, that Thomas will live to see the death of Mother Malkin and perhaps even the light of another sequel. There is also no doubt, despite Gregory’s initial reservations, that Thomas will be ready within the span of just seven days to defeat the evil that Malkin possesses within her goth-like getup.
And for that matter, there is no doubt that Thomas will find true love in Alice (Alicia Vikander), a witch whom he rescues from the town mob and who turns out to be the daughter of Malkin’s younger sister. The plot is as straight-forward as it gets, and functions no more than to connect the numerous noisy action sequences together. Usually while watching a period or a fantasy epic, its the production design which stands out, no matter how the overall film is! But there is just something awfully dreary about this world of director Sergei Bodrov’s film. Indeed, the only human city where any of the action takes place looks like it was rented right after the cast and crew of ‘Game of Thrones’ abandoned it, while the mountain fortress which principal villain Mother Malkin makes her not-so-humble abode seems like it was designed for some 1960s B-grade science-fiction movie. The unattractive visuals add as an icing to the cake! Whether the over sized orcs or shape-shifting witches (Moore and her fellow consort Djimon Hounsou transform into dragons, while others transform into creatures with reptilian-like tongues or Hindu deity-like arms), the CG effects for what was once intended to be a franchise tent pole are both unimaginatively conceived and poorly executed, I cant imagine the plight of the viewers who happen to see this film in 3D or worse on an IMAX screen.There is also hardly any character to speak of, each one of them leading or supporting mere stock types that you would be familiar with from countless other such fantasy flicks.
Jeff Bridges is a fine actor who’s played the grizzled veteran one too many times of late in ‘R.I.P.D.’ and ‘The Giver’ and is here trying not to sound condescending while delivering lame one-liners with a distinct twang. He is at his hammy best here and he looks like he had a good time filming this. Julianne Moore too is an equally fine actress in her own right utterly wasted in a thankless role! She goes all campy playing Mother Malkin with evil relish and glee. She gets to wear more witch-chic than Maleficent and she seemed to be having a field day with this over-the-top character, much unlike the more serious and quiet ones she is more known for and together, what chemistry the pair had in ‘The Big Lebowski’ is sorely missing in their first reunion since. Ben Barnes tries his best to project fresh-eyed enthusiasm, but the late decision to cast the 31- year-old actor in the role of a 17-year-old – instead of ‘The Hunger Games” Sam Claflin is ultimately a misguided one. He also shares too little chemistry with Vikander, who also looks inappropriately too old for her age. Barnes and Vikander are also stuck in an awkward romance which is bound to inspire some unintended giggles especially for a sequence where the two supposedly exchange loving glances while lying together in bed. There is hardly anything fascinating about this film, whose title belongs better in a tongue twister than in an expensive and extravagant swords-and-dragons epic. Yes, there is good reason indeed why former studio Warner Bros had dragged its feet in releasing this, and what a relief it must have felt when the film bombed. No matter that the director is a two-time Academy Award nominee for his Russian films ‘Prisoner of the Mountains’ and ‘Mongol’, his Hollywood foray is an embarrassing misstep that he would no doubt want to be forgotten as soon as possible. On the whole, ‘Seventh Son’ is a not so fun crap fest of a fantasy film which should not have seen the light of the day, the whole film works out as cliche video game complete with boss battles, side-quests, and gaining new equipment, it does nothing but hamper the career of its leads. Frankly find some other movie with “Son” in the title & watch that!