Seventh Son is yet another in a seemingly interminable line of Young Adult fiction adaptations, this time based on Joseph Delaney’s novel, The Spook’s Apprentice. The film is centered on young Thom Ward (Ben Barnes), a farmer who is also the seventh son of a seventh son. This qualifies him to become a member of a dwindling group of knights and he is drafted into apprenticeship by John Gregory (Jeff Bridges), who is also known as The Spook. They are quickly drawn into a fantastical journey where they must battle giant monsters and creatures, all while on a quest to stop an evil witch named Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore) and her followers who include Djimon Hounsou, Antje Traue, and Jason Scott Lee. He also falls in love with a half-witch named Alice (Alicia Vikander). The film is directed by Sergey Bodrov.
It is not the worst film that I’ve seen this year. That honor still belongs to The Loft. But it’s damn close.
The story is nothing more than a watered down, lazily plagiarized Dungeons & Dragons campaign, as if pages from the Player’s Handbook and Monster Manual were simply ripped out and haphazardly taped into the screenplay in a hasty attempt to establish some sort of organized universe, except that none of it makes much sense.
It’s boring, the acting is hideous, it feels rushed and clumsy, and there is nothing remotely interesting about Thom’s story. There is never any sense of stakes to it, never any real feeling of risk for any of the characters. More so, because it’s so rushed, you never care one iota about any of them. That’s not helped by their generic boringness, nor the listless performances given by the leads (with the exception of Traue, who was actually quite good). It is, in short, fucking terrible.
I’ve spent too much time with lousy movies recently, so in an effort to get on with my damn life, here are a few of the stupidest things about Seventh Son. Shit will get spoiled. You should not care. If you do care, please understand that your caring is meaningless to me, so get fucked.
- The entire film literally takes place over the course of a week. Meaning that in ONE WEEK, Thom goes from shit-shoveling farmboy to sword-swinging death dealer who kills everything in his path.
- Julianne Moore. She is in this. She is a talented, brilliant actress, and rarely is an actor so wasted as she is here. She tries, y’all. She’s clearly channeling the vampiness of Jolie in Maleficent or Theron in Snow White & The Huntsman (both terrible movies, but enjoyable performances). But she never quite nails it.
- The film is filled with generic, rote dialogue, as if taken from a Random Fantasy Novel Dialogue Generator. At one point, Thom’s mother says “All you ever need is inside you. Just don’t be afraid to look” and my eyes almost rolled out of my head and onto the floor. The entire movie is like that.
- Jeff Bridges. JEFF BRIDGES. Someone needs to teach him that “drunken mumble” is not an accent. He is absolutely incomprehensible in this movie. It’s one of the worst performances by a great actor that I’ve ever witnessed.
- This is an actual line of dialogue: “THAT’S A LEVEL SIX CREATURE!” That’s it. As I said, ripped from the pages of a D&D manual. No mention of anything else about levels ever again. Is level six high? Low? Bad? How many levels are there? WHY ARE THERE LEVELS IN THE FIRST PLACE?
- Jeff Bridges’ Spook on at least two separate occasions solemnly declares “NO! I MUST FACE THIS BATTLE ALONE!” and then promptly gets his ass handed to him like a fucking hat, only to be bailed out by the aforementioned pig farmer who is suddenly freakin’ Conan.
- Bridges’ character also routinely demands that Thom pay attention and LEARN. And then cryptically refuses to answer every single question that he asks.
- The again, this is Thom’s expression throughout the entire film, so maybe the Spook is onto something:
As fellow Pajiba writer Kristy Puchko said, “Ben Barnes should be a track on Bridges’ sleep tapes.”
- Again, this film takes place in a week. So in a week, Thom and Alice fall desperately, madly in love, to the point of risking death for each other. They literally speak for a total of 15 minutes.
- Did I mention that Jeff goddamn Bridges is in this?
- Djimon Hounsou and Kit Harrington are in this! For about ten minutes each. And they’re utterly pointless additions.
- Every single woman who plays a mother or wife in the film dies. Thom’s mother? Killed. Alice’s mother? Killed. The Spook’s wife? Killed. I’m not sure what conclusions to draw from that, it was just an alarmingly high incidence of mom/wife murder.
In short, this is a boring, dumb, cliched, lazily generic story that barely deserved the effort it took me to tiredly throw this review together. Gary Gygax would be ashamed of this pile of crap. Don’t go anywhere near it.