Seventh Son – Film Review
Did Eddie Redmayne and Julianne Moore make a pact with the devil? That in order to win their Oscars, they would both have to star in abominable, fantasy action epics?
At least Jupiter Ascending tried to be ambitious. Human-on-Space-Dog-Person love almost could have made it, you know?
What has Seventh Son got? Accent soup?
Who knew that Once Upon a Time could lay claim to doing something better. Yeesh.
TL;DR There is not a single original thing about Seventh Son. The only thing keeping it from being absolutely unforgivable is a mercifully short runtime. And Julianne Moore and Jeff Bridges seem to be having a ham of a time. 2 out of 5 stars.
And I do like ham. And Julianne Moore.
The plot is thankfully simple. Julianne Moore is an evil witch queen, and Jeff Bridges is a grizzled old knight who is determined to stop her from destroying the world. For some reason, though, he needs an apprentice, and recruits Tom, the seventh son of a seventh son. Because they have psychic powers or something. Together, Jeff Bridges and Tom lay waste to Julianne’s league of video game boss henchmen, before eventually slaying the witch queen herself with extreme prejudice. Because heroes just love burning wounded, gasping people to death, right? Subplots include: Kit Harington making yet another cinematic mistake as Jeff’s ill-fated, pre-Tom apprentice; Tom falling in love with a hot, young witch; Julianne and Jeff having been lovers long ago (of course they were); and a bizarre, underwhelming battle royale to serve as the film’s climax.
Oh, and as is par for the course, an endless stream of CGI bullshit.
I just can’t understand how movies like this can keep getting made. It makes all the same mistakes as Eragon, 47 Ronin, Snow White & The Huntsman, and any number of Lord of the Rings/Harry Potter wannabes.
Even Percy Jackson, one of the better attempts at squeezing the formula, has been pretty middling.
Come on, studio. Shouldn’t you be making another Hunger Games knockoff?
Get your fads right, people.
Why I hate this movie:
First and foremost, it squanders Julianne Moore. She does what she can to inject some life into her amazingly uninspired villain, but Seventh Son seems particularly determined to blunt her at every opportunity. She doesn’t get to wear a fabulous outfit (a black robe with, like, some feathers doesn’t count), her hair is boring, and she doesn’t even get to fight the final battle. She CGI-morphs into a dragon and flies around aimlessly. I wanted to see Julianne Moore chucking fireballs or something.
Jeff Bridges gets more screentime and gets to have more fun, but it’s clear that he’s not taking this thing seriously at all. His accent is perplexing, and the only attempt at giving him backstory is that he once loved Julianne, but ended up marrying someone else, whom Julianne then murdered, and that’s why he locked her away in a cage.
The main character of the movie is Tom, portrayed by British actor Ben Barnes. But for some reason he is saddled with an American accent. While I kind of applaud Seventh Son for trying to get away from the fantasy movie British accent cliché, they shouldn’t have had to put that upon a natively British actor. It’s just weird, and I kept thinking about it the whole movie.
Julianne assembles a League of Doom, comprised of other witches. But they are all individually themed, and faced sequentially. Just like a video game. If Seventh Son had the playfulness to approach it like a video game, then it would have worked. But it didn’t, so it didn’t.
In a movie already overstuffed with meaningless henchmen characters, I was surprised to find out that Djimon Honsou’s character was created specifically for the movie (it’s based on a book series. Natch). It was unneeded.
The CGI is 47 Ronin-level unimpressive. It’s concocted competently enough, but it sucks the tension out of every action sequence.
Tom’s love interest is a hot-and-cold, indecisive mess. And Tom isn’t the least bit alarmed that a witch, who he knows is supposed to be working for Julianne, just keeps popping up to chit chat. Shockingly, she ends up stealing his MacGuffin pendant.
The MacGuffin pendant is vague. It shows up briefly as a gift to Tom from his mother. Then it doesn’t appear for half the movie. Once it is discovered again, then suddenly everyone is like “this is the most powerful item ever and your mum is a witch who stole it from Julianne and now Julianne really wants it back despite not having been interested in it for most of the movie.”
As much as I appreciate the short runtime, the decision to cram everything and the kitchen sink into the narrative doesn’t play well under the restriction.
If Love Interest can just teleport to where Tom and Jeff are at any time, why doesn’t Julianne just do that and kill them?
Both Jeff and Love Interest leave Tom at the end of the movie, so he can pursue his new life as a Spook (jargon jargon blah). Thanks a lot, guys.
Oh, and the final battle is a confusing mess. Julianne gets tied up in a dragon slapfight with Love Interest’s mother, who is only fighting Julianne because Love Interest defies Julianne and Julianne gets pissed off. Jeff and Tom awkwardly shuffle around and finish off the remaining League of Doom members. Once everyone’s shaken hands after their own respective bouts, Julianne weirdly toddles off to her couch to succumb to her fatal wounds from Love Interest’s mum. She has a final bitch at Jeff before Tom heroically throws a knife in her, and then casually sets her on fire while she lies there, struggling to breathe. Are we supposed to cheer?
But it’s not all bad:
I’ll take Julianne Moore in anything. Even this.
The scene at the beginning, where Julianne attacks Jeff and Kit at the church, is the best part of the movie. Julianne is in full ham mode, and she puts poor Kit out of his misery (and spares him from the rest of the movie) when she kills him after he gets sloppy when trapping her. Seventh Son could have used a lot of more of Julianne killing people.
Another highlight comes when Julianne and her League raze a town that she doesn’t like. Tom’s mum happens to be there, so she fights back. And Julianne kills her. Slay, queen.
Jeff Bridges is clearly only here for the payday, but he’s convincing as the bitter-but-kind old mentor.
Ben Barnes is unoffensive as the main character. I won’t remember you, Ben. But at least I won’t remember you unfavourably.
Thank God this thing is under two hours long.
Julianne gets the best line of the movie in the early scene when she notices Kit: “Oh, a boy. I like boys.” She’s a maneater. Well, a mankiller, at least.
Oh, and Jeff’s evolution from by-the-book Spook (they’re supposed to trap, not kill) to pragmatic murderer added a little bit of edge and darkness to things. It’s a shame the movie didn’t work more with it.
There isn’t much to love. And although there is a lot to hate, I don’t feel hateful towards this movie. Seventh Son is more bland than infuriating. And I’ll take a villainous Julianne Moore any day. Here’s to more villain roles in the future, J. 2 out of 5 stars.