Sometimes, a film is so bad it’s good. Be it recent endeavours such as Run For Your Wife or A New York Winter’s Tale – both films could easily be played ironically for audience’s to poke fun at, and to revel in the absurdity of. However in the case of Sergey Bodrov’s Seventh Son, this isn’t even so bad it’s good, it’s just bad – really really bad. Made all the worse when you see the cast that have signed up. Fans of Julianne Moore and Jeff Bridges, look away now. You wouldn’t think watching this abomination that the former has just won an Oscar.
Based on the young adult novel The Spook’s Apprentice, we meet Master Gregory (Bridges) – a ‘spook’, left to protect his fellow people from any dark supernatural forces, such as the nefarious Mother Malkin (Moore). However as he nears retirement, he wants to pass his wisdom on to a fervent, committed youngster who can continue on his legacy – a responsibility that befalls his apprentice Tom Ward (Ben Barnes). The pair know that to maintain the peace, they will require the assistance of Alice (Alicia Vikander), to help be their ear on the inside, and defeat the evil adversary once and for all.
There isn’t any reason why this film shouldn’t be a riotous success, as it taps into the same demographic that adore Game of Thrones; set in that same, fantastical kingdom with dragons and dungeons, with a playful sense of irreverence to combat the more severe themes. But you need a strong screenplay with well-crafted, rounded characters, and this is lacking tremendously in both areas. Some of the supposedly sharp one-liners are cringe-worthy, while the less said about Bridges’ and Moore’s hammy performances the better. Let’s just say this isn’t quite the long-awaited Big Lebowski reunion we had envisaged, and hoped for.
Thankfully the CGI goes some way in making up for the narrative deficiencies, although even that is implemented far too regularly. But the biggest downfall is the lack of context: we need a more perspicuous, comprehensive opening to provide the viewer with a background, which is essential in films of this ilk, where the viewer is required to suspend their disbelief and abide by the rules of a whole new universe. Though to be fair it would probably only have been a waste of time, as it’s rather unlikely we’ll be entering into this world ever again.