The epic/fantasy sure has run the gamut since Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy and Harry Potter made it mainstream. Suddenly, everyone wanted a piece of the almighty box office dollar for better and worse. Even with Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy at a close, studios are still wringing them out. Even if something lesser like this weekend’s Seventh Son doesn’t live up to audience expectations. Hopes were higher than usual with Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore attached to the adaptation of author Joseph Delaney’s The Spook’s Apprentice. While the retitled Seventh Son may not crash and burn, it’s not a complete success either.
The book’s “spook” character refers to Master Gregory (Bridges), whose apprentices keep meeting untimely demises. They are also all the “seventh son of the seventh son.” His latest apprentice is Tom Ward (Ben Barnes) who joins Gregory on his quest. Tom also has visions which comes in handy after the evil witch Mother Malkin ( Moore) escapes from her imprisonment by Gregory years before. Things are further complicated with Ward needing to be trained in the ways of the spook in just a week, and Tom’s meet-cute with good witch Alice (Alicia Vikander). Tom and Alice discover they are destined to be together forever, but Mother Malkin has far more dubious plans.
For anyone worried from the trailers of Seventh Son, this is not that disastrous. While the release date changes also don’t work in the film’s favor — it was originally intended to be released by Warner Bros. in February 2013 — it was put on the back burner for post-production and then got pushed back even further once Legendary Pictures moved from WB to Universal. For anyone interested in the film, there’s plenty to like.
Moore is as campy as you’d hope for an evil witch character and Barnes makes a likeable hero to root for. If there’s anyone who seems to be phoning it in, it’s Bridges. While he’s always fun to watch, it’s the mumbled drunken speech pattern he’s fallen prey to over the last few years that almost gets in the way. It also doesn’t help that writers Charles Leavitt and Steven Knight make the finale completely lackluster and a certain character’s demise all too easy.
As it stands, Seventh Son may not be a great movie, but it’s more fun than you’d expect. The 3D could have used some sharpening up — I had to suffer through another screening in the inferior Dolby 3D which just needs to be put out to pasture — but the visual effects are as believable as they can be. If you want to see it, a matinee is the way to go, as Seventh Son offers up plenty of adventure to pass the afternoon, just don’t go in expecting the birth of the next Lord of the Rings franchise.