I suppose it could have been worse, couldn’t it? Seventh Son is a bad movie that you have no reason to see unless you need a generic fantasy film that feels like a cross between Season of the Witch and Eragon — and is on about the same level of quality as those, too. Technically based on a novel called The Spook’s Apprentice, this is a movie that was delayed for almost two years due to production problems, and has gotten a theatrical release in hopes that it’ll wind up making back some of the money that was sunk into it.
Our film’s leads are Ben Barnes and Jeff Bridges, playing Tom Ward and “the Spook” respectively. I think Bridges’ character technically has a name, but if you clearly care more than I do. Ward is the Seventh Son of the Seventh Son, which means he’s significantly stronger and faster than the normal person, and therefore should spend his life hunting all sorts of evil creatures, the worst of which are the witches, who are led by Malkin, played by Julianne Moore — who probably wishes this movie was further delayed so as to not ruin her Oscar chances.
So, the Spook and the spook’s new apprentice, Ward, set out on a quest to kill all the witches. Oh, and other people, like some guy who can transform into a bear. Why are the witches evil? Who knows? Some of them aren’t, like Alice (Alicia Vikander), who is technically acting as a spy but winds up finding herself falling in love with Ward, because we need a love story in movies like this. Why must the spooks kill them? Again, who knows? It’s their duty, and that’s all you need to know.
It’s an adventure film, one which puts our heroes on a quest to kill all sorts of evil creatures, but there are really only a handful of action scenes, none of which are in the least bit involving, interesting, or exciting. They’re split up by exposition given to us by Jeff Bridges — which means half of it is unintelligible and incomprehensible — awful romance scenes with Barnes and Vikander, and the witches randomly being evil, because they have to be so that we will hate them.
I kept wondering why I was supposed to care. There’s a personal vendetta that Bridges’ character has against the witches that’s revealed far too late to matter, and most of the movie just seems to make them do this quest simply because they must in order for it to fit the fantasy adventure archetype. Nothing is fully developed, and it’s even worse when we get to the characters, who act with the smallest of motivations and are about as deep as a wading pool. You can actively try to root for them and fail to come up with any reasons as to why you should.
This might be fine if the action scenes could excite, surprise, or intrigue us, but this is one of the lazier action movies you could see. They’re all so generic and bland, containing no amount of suspense, and there really aren’t any “wow” moments for its entire running time. It’s just boring and filled with people you don’t care about doing nothing of interest. That last sentence just about sums up Seventh Son.
Ben Barnes hasn’t exactly had the post-Narnia career he’s probably hoped for, and here doesn’t do anything to help himself out. He’s utterly bland in the lead role. Jeff Bridges mumbles his way through another movie, which is a shame because his primary purpose is to deliver exposition. Julianne Moore is horrible as she overacts throughout, but at least that’s kind of fun. Alicia Vikander perhaps turns in the “best” performance, but in a movie like this one, that doesn’t really help her register; she’s just the obligatory love interest.
Seventh Son is a bad fantasy movie. You’re more likely to fall asleep than get your heart pounding while watching it. It was delayed for a couple of years and probably should have been delayed even longer given how lackluster the entire effort turned out. It’s not bad enough to fall into “so bad, it’s good” territory, which might’ve been the only chance it had at saving face. You can’t care about anyone, the action isn’t exciting on its own, and there’s nothing here that you haven’t seen before.