The classic all-action, mythical adventure film isn’t as strong a brand as it was back in the 1980’s, and modern versions tend to require a big budget to attract audiences. But “Seventh Son” manages to capture the cotton-candy fun level, without falling into the typical traps.
Ben Barnes stars as the seventh son of the seventh son, and is picked up by a dark creature hunter or “Spook”, played by Jeff Bridges. He is out to take on an old for named Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore) who has escaped her imprisonment and is seeking to reign over the dark world once again. Only John Gregory, along with his new apprentice, can put an end to her plans.
As far as the story goes, that’s all you really need to know. It pulls back the chances of things becoming in any way complicated, so that you can enjoy the action and adventure. But what really, REALLY sells this is the performance by Jeff Bridges as the drunk, foul-mouthed and and charismatic final member of the mythical Knights. From the first scene he is marvellous, always possessing a wise-cracking joke or a level of swagger that shows an actor chewing the scenery like he is in the Land of Chocolate. This aspect alone is a sheer joy to watch, and provides the majority of the humour the film possesses.
The second best feature is the creature design and creativity. There isn’t as much on display here as you would hope, but what there is has some very neat little touches and aesthetics. The witch transformations look very cool, and each of the supporting villains has a unique look and fighting style to them – from axe blades in chains to the King of Swords who has four arms. It keeps things fresh and thankfully avoids the stereotypical monsters sometimes found in this genre of movie. I do have to applaud this, as it makes for some creative and exciting action sequences.
The rest then kind of falls to being “acceptable”, such as the story progression and the inclusion of props to push the story forward. And outside of the main monsters, the rest of the world feels quite empty, with not that many other creatures met along the journey. The romance plot thread is unimpressive, and rather than creating characterisation just slows the pace down unnecessarily. This is another example of a fantasy novel-adaptation that contains a weak romance arc. And the villains have too thin a depth of character to really get interested in, we ultimately know nothing about them. The main witch played by Julianne Moore though gets more to work with and even has some moments where she does come across as threatening, and someone you really don’t want to fuck with. Like Bridges, she keeps the interest in this film going.
Summing up all of this together, the average moments along with the really enjoyable, I think this results in a simple, but fun film. Compared to the recent flops like “Pompeii” or “Hercules”, this is far more impressive both technically and on a performance scale. The action is well constructed and designed, I liked the diversity in the villains, the world feels like it has conceptual depth to it, Jeff and Julianne are just great, and even the score ‘aint that bad at all. This is a “bang for your buck” film making drizzled with just enough quality to push it above the mundane. Keep this one for the afternoon after a Saturday night out, get your comfy seat, and enjoy.