By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)
This week I watched two films which attempt to offer audiences fun and exciting popcorn entertainment. While both lack depth and feature character cliches, Seventh Son actually works as a whole. With Jeff Bridges in a delightful and lovable role, and Julianne Moore hamming it up as a wicked witch, how can one not have a great time? The fact that the cast appears to be having a great time actually adds to the enjoyment of this film. While this movie doesn’t break any new ground, Seventh Son offers people B-rated thrills during a time when movie studios tend to dump their worst material upon the masses.
Based on the novel, The Spook’s Apprentice by Joseph Delaney, this movie tells the tale of Tom Ward (Ben Barnes), a seventh son of a seventh son, and how he becomes an apprentice to legendary Spook, Gregory (Jeff Bridges). A spook is a warrior charged with the duty of battling evil supernatural beings. In need of a new assistant, Gregory seeks out Tom, who, as a seventh son, has clairvoyant abilities. Gregory’s enemy, a witch named Mother Malkin, assembles a team to battle Gregory and Tom and vanquish her enemies once and for all.
Written by Charles Leavitt, Steven Knight, and Matt Greenberg, and directed by Sergei Brodnov, Seventh Son has a story and plot quite typical for the genre, and plays out rather predictably. However, this movie’s strengths come from the well written and executed humor, thrilling action sequences, and decent CGI and effects. While the scenarios and characters are somewhat cartoonish, they never go too far into that territory that they take away from the excitement. Ben Barnes seems to take the material more seriously than his leads, and this adds to the gravity of his perils. Having Bridges and Moore acting in a more campy capacity helps balance the tone nicely. The movie is serious where necessary, but the writers and director knew not to take things way too seriously. Otherwise, the entire piece would come across rather pretentiously.
Though Moore and Bridges have the capability to perform seriously and dramatically, I love that they took some chances and embraced a more cartoonish style. Julianne definitely puts much gusto into her performance as a wicked, power-hungry witch. Bridges adopts a manner of speaking similar to Tom Hardy’s Bane from The Dark Knight Rises and I absolutely loved it. He fits into his role as a formidable spook warrior rather comfortably and performs with the conviction of a classically trained actor. Even though Bridges and Moore are the stand-outs of the film, Barnes and his other co-stars, which include Alicia Vikander, Djimon Hounsou, Antje Traue, Olivia Williams, and Kit Harrington, are no slouches when it comes to their acting abilities here. No one in this movie will probably win any awards for their work, but that’s okay. The filmmakers, cast and crew probably had no intentions of baiting awards voters.
The movie does succeed in baiting fans of b-movie entertainment, and I certainly bit. After a season of watching acclaimed films up for awards, this film came as a nice break and is one that is surprisingly good. I say surprisingly because movie studios usually release their lowest grade material at this time. If this season usually keeps one away from the cinema due to the lack of solid material, Seventh Son is definitely a refreshing exception to the rule.