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Seventh Son


Stars: Jeff Bridges, Ben Barnes, Julianne Moore, Alicia Vikander, Kit Harington, Olivia Williams, Antje Traue, Jason Scott Lee, Djimon Hounsou

Director: Sergei Bodrov

This mishmash of mediaeval magical hokum is the kind of failed fantasy that makes you wonder why anyone involved in it – on either side of the camera – agreed to make it. And then wonder why, after seeing the completed film, they allowed it to be released when it is likely to simply serve as an embarrassing misfire.

It’s the kind of genre movie that usually turns up unannounced on a cable TV network rather than clunking its way into cinemas to lose money.

“Inspiration” comes from Joseph Delaney’s novel The Spook’s Apprentice (how’s that for homage?): the hardly innovative screenplay is credited to Charles Leavitt and Stephen Knight; and Matt Greenberg’s screen story casts Jeff Bridges (sensibly hiding behind a beard) as the eponymous witch hunter Spook who has been locked for eons in battle with demonic witch Julianne Moore.

Now Bridges needs another seventh son of a seventh son to join him fighting Moore and Ben Barnes draws the short straw and ending up battling smoky ghosts in a forest and, especially, Moore who has a horrid habit of turning into a flying dragon, complete with tail…

The less than gripping story boasts ludicrous dialogue although, to give the film its due, we do learn from Bridges that “It’s near impossible to battle demons with wet feet”. And, sensibly, rather than battling with the dialogue, Bridges’s performance is ham rampant, although in a film that hardly requires good acting, his performance is well meshed with the majority of the cast.

Director Sergei Bodrov does what he can with the material he has been lumbered with, making more use than really necessary of Marco Beltrami’s thundering score: fortunately the very necessary special effects are effective enough, with Newton Thomas Sigel's effective 3D cinematography adding welcome visual impact

The cruelest aspect of Seventh Son is its release in the year when Moore (“Time has made me soulless. I’m no longer easy to contain!”) won her Best Actress Oscar for Still Alice.

Seventh Son marks Bridges and Moore’s first time together since the cult classic The Big Lebowski. They really shouldn’t have bothered.

Alan Frank

USA/UK/Canada/China 2014. UK Distributor: Universal. Colour.
102 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 05 Apr 2015