Seventh Son

Directed By: Sergei Bodrov

Starring: Jeff Bridges, Ben Barnes, Alicia Vikander, Kit Harington, Olivia Williams, Antje Traue, Djimon Hounsou, and Julianne Moore

The first weekend in February was a disaster zone for big budget films at the box office.  Just look to the failures of Jupiter Ascending and Seventh Son.  As these two costly endeavors sank at the box office, SpongeBob SquarePants surprisingly rose to the challenge and is actually the one that finally vanquished American Sniper.  This outcome is not entirely surprising.  After all, parents have been stuck indoors with their kids quite a bit for the winter and need a reprieve.  At the same time, the other two films have suffered setbacks on the road to their theatrical releases.  For its part, Jupiter Ascending had some prime real estate on the summer 2014 calendar and was "suddenly" pushed back by its studio.  Its counterpart Seventh Son has been volleyed across the release calendar for more than two years now.  The $95 million fantasy epic was destined for failure from the start.

Master John Gregory (Jeff Bridges) is a spook.  By profession, he fights to contain the dark forces that plague the earth, including ghosts, ghasts, and especially witches.  Ten years ago, he entrapped Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore), the queen of the witches, for what he believed would be an eternity.  When she escapes, Gregory and his apprentice Billy Bradley (Kit Harington) pursue her.  A showdown ensues in which Malkin kills Bradley.  Still on the loose, Malkin returns to her home and restores it to its former glory.  There, she revitalizes her clan and gets ready for the upcoming blood moon in several days.  At this time, she will reclaim her power and will bring a reign of terror down upon mankind.

Having watched another apprentice bite the dust and facing the prospect of years of endless bloodshed, Master Gregory seeks out a new apprentice to help him stop Malkin's dreams from becoming a nightmarish reality.  Arriving at a small farm, he approaches a woman named Mam (Olivia Williams) about her son Tom Ward (Ben Barnes).  He is the seventh son of a seventh son and is the ideal choice for his new apprentice.  Gregory lays off the family and takes Ward with him.  As they traverse the lands to stop Malkin, Gregory begins to teach Ward about what it means to be a spook.  Meanwhile, Tom unknowingly meets and falls for a witch spying on Master Gregory Alice Deane (Alicia Vikander), putting their mission in terrible jeopardy.

Unsurprisingly, I've got plenty of issues with Sergei Bodrov's adaptation of Seventh Son.  Given such strong source material richly rooted in the hallmarks of the fantasy genre, I'm baffled by how unbelievably awful his take on the tale of Ward and Gregory truly is.  It's a film devoid of intrigue, suspense, and grandeur — all the essential ingredients for a big screen extravaganza of this nature.  Simply put, Seventh Son is one bland film that fails to translate the richness of its source material into movie magic.

The single greatest failure of this film is its inability to connect with the audience, and that starts with the actors.  This is all due to the fact that the cast delivers a series of underwhelming, one-note performances under the direction of Bodrov.  There are no layers to the characters they create.  There's no depth whatsoever.  Whether we're watching Jeff Bridges as the grumpy dude or Julianne Moore as a mean witch, the characters are inauthentic at best and irritating at worst.

The curse of the delayed release strikes again.  Despite its $95 million budget and its immense potential, Seventh Son falls flat on its ass.  Given a cast of actors whom I respect and its revered source material, I wish I could say better.  As it stands, you'll need to drink more.  I'd recommend mystery shots.  Seventh Son gets a wasted rating.