Movie Review: Seventh Son

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When an evil witch returns, a young man is recruited into the ranks of professional monster hunters in order to stop her.

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Sergey Bodrov, 2014

Years after she was first imprisoned, the power of the blood moon helps queen witch Malkin (Julianne Moore) escape. She immediately targets the man who imprisoned her: Master Gregory (Jeff Bridges), a monster hunter or “spook” who protects the mortals from the inhuman dangers of the world. He quickly finds himself in need of a new apprentice, but only seventh sons of seventh sons can be Spooks. He travels to find Tom (Ben Barnes), a young farmer plagued by visions. He’s given a protective amulet by his mother before running off to learn how to kill bad things. The baddest of all are the shapeshifting witches, who are gathering their forces. Gregory has little patience for the wayward Tom, whose loyalties are torn when he falls in love with the mysterious Alice (Alicia Vikander).

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I watched this on a plane, and a day later I had completely forgotten which movie I’d seen. Seventh Son is an incredibly derivative medieval fantasy coasting on the coattails of Game of Thrones, with bland leads and a blander plot. Every single person’s accent is different and terrible (with the possible exception of the criminally underused Olivia Williams, seen here as Tom’s mother and nailing her farmerly brogue). Where Ben Barnes is just bad, bad, bad, a lot of the other actors are simply miscast. Julianne Moore does her level best with the one-note evil Malkin, but she’s distinctly un-British, the lines she’s given are so hokey and the effects around her are terrible. She fares better than the woefully out of his league Bridges, who seems to grumble or growl through every line so that you can’t hear how un-British he is. Alicia Vikander is charming as Alice, but her role is slight. Kit Harington actually brings a little spark early in the film as Gregory’s first ill-fated assistant; one can’t help feeling that the film might have fared slightly better had he been cast in the lead, though he could hardly do anything with the disastrous script. It plods through predictable plot points as if written by a first year film student, and the dialogue is primary school stuff.

Seventh Son is also a hardcore misogynistic, deeply racist film. Witches are the leading evil in the world, and older women are only redeemable by their maternal qualities: childless women who talk about sisterhood like Malkin are all, obviously, The Worst Evil Ever. Malkin also has a series of henchmen, several of whom are PoCs. Djimon Hounsou fares the best of these, which isn’t saying much: he just gets to have lines and, occasionally, agency. The only WoC of the bunch is relegated to the very background (to the point where I had to pause and squint to realise it was Kandyse McClure). Almost all of these characters spend MORE TIME AS ANIMALS THAN AS PEOPLE. Gregory doesn’t make a much better example of humanity than any of them, though. He’s downright abusive towards Tom, to the point where you wonder why the younger man even spends any time with him. There are a few things about this movie that aren’t completely awful; the pair’s travelling companion, the troll Tusk, is pretty adorable and arguably the most heroic character for a lot of the film. There are also some downright cool ideas for creatures, and some interesting fight scenes. The scenery is also used nicely. Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore would be interesting to see together in a better film, as they seem to have some chemistry going on. Other than those few things, though, this film is terrrrible.

Seventh Son on IMDb

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