The 102 minute waste of time that is Seventh Son is loosely based on the first book in The Wardstone Chronicles by Joseph Delaney, The Spook’s Apprentice. However, with the exception of the basic premise and the names of a few characters, there is very little that actually ties Sergei Bodrov’s film to its source material, and the former is the worse off as a result.
Viewers follow Tom Ward (Ben Barnes) as he is apprenticed to Jeff Bridges’ grizzled Spook, Master Gregory, while the pair attempt to stop the Witch Queen, Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore) from destroying the world. It’s all very dramatic, and all very, very predictable; there’s a jaded, alcoholic mentor, a magical artefact, shape-shifting villains, the usual fantasy fare. It’s the overuse of these elements that make Seventh Son feel as though the scriptwriters have simply taken a list of fantasy clichés and thrown them all together. The end result is possibly the most boring and unoriginal fantasy film imaginable.
Even the actors seem to be aware of how awful the film is, and subsequently proceed to give as underwhelming a performance as is humanly possible. Jeff Bridges mixes his character from True Grit, a performance which initially earned him an Oscar nomination, with Gandalf, only without the charm of either character.
Similarly Julianne Moore hams it up as the stereotypical villainess, complete with the uncanny ability to turn into a dragon, while Ben Barnes and Alicia Vikander desperately try to have some semblance of on-screen chemistry in an attempt to make the audience actually care about their characters and relationships. It doesn’t work.
The knowledge of how terrible Seventh Son is also the only reasonable explanation behind the over-use of CGI that plagues the film. There’s isn’t a single action sequence that doesn’t involve a gigantic beast or some form of digital trickery, and while the CGI is at least half-decent, the reliance upon it only further attributes to the lack of depth in all departments, and consequently damages the film in the end.
Photograph: Seventh Son