Seventh Son: Film Review
Cast: Ben Barnes, Jeff Bridges, Julianne Moore, Alicia Vikander, Kit Harington, Olivia Williams
Director: Sergei Bodrov
The fantasy genre gets another entrant with the potential start of new franchise being kicked off with Seventh Son, the first entrant in series The Wardstone Chronicles.
Though, based on the execution of the first one, it seems unlikely any further books in the series will be adapted onto the big screen.
Barnes is Tom Ward, a seventh son of a seventh son and who suffers from hallucinations. The main focus of those - Jeff Bridges' John Gregory, the local spook and knight protector of the vale whose raison d'etre is to fight the demons who haunt their kingdom.
When the previously imprisoned Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore, all crimped red hair and bedecked in Maleficent style garb) escapes, Gregory realises that their world is in mortal danger. And having lost an apprentice to Malkin, he seeks out Ward to join his quest and save the day...
Seventh Son is such a mash-up of other elements and CGI that it barely proffers enough to stand out on its own two feet.
Following familiar fantasy tropes is all very well and fine (and many others of a similar ilk have done the same) but Seventh Son relies too much on the VFX to help it negotiate through the muddied waters of its unoriginality. The problem comes in the writing with it feeling like it's seriously underdeveloped in places in favour of simply showcasing the FX once again.
Of the main cast, Barnes is forgettable as Ward (a crime for a leading man); Vikander puts a rare foot wrong with the love interest (due to a lack of chemistry even though there is a literal spark between the pair); Moore is two shades away from pantomime dame in her crimped hair and Gothic outfit (and suffers the indignity of being made out to be a major threat before being summarily dismissed with ease) and an eccentric Bridges seems to be channeling some kind of four score and ten years ago -Yoda-like voiceover for his character as the Spook, the last of his kind and prone to the few laugh-out-loud putdowns scattered throughout.
With its training ideas and set up, Seventh Son is very much a film that wants to launch a franchise, but it's unlikely we'll see more of The Wardstone Chronicles. While it's not badly executed overall, its distinct young adult tones are evident from the start and don't help it to soar when it should - and certainly by taking things too seriously, the film doesn't work.
There's very much the feeling that Seventh Son would sit among Harryhausen's catalogue if he was still alive, but a lack of script and character development cuts down Seventh Son before it's even had chance to reach its prime.