Friday, 8 May 2015

Seventh Son (2014)


Holy Orc dung! another novel adaptation, and wouldn't ya know it...there is a whole string of sequels to this original book. I smell the stirrings of another Hollywood franchise folks, well that would have been the case if this hadn't bombed like a direct hit on your local cinema. Actually one of the first things that hit me was the use of the word spook in this movie. In America isn't that word a derogatory insult against African Americans? I'm surprised it wasn't altered.

So here we have Russian director Sergei Bodrov's fantasy epic, much like the various other epics he's made previously which kinda look the same visually. Long story short its your usual spiel about a young man who is like a chosen one and trains with a wise old warrior in the ways of the force. The reason being its the beginning of a centennial event know as the blood moon where by this big bad witch gets all powerful and...I dunno, wants to take over the world or something. The usual stupid thing where by this witch seems to have amazingly strong powers but only during a certain time frame because reasons. Outside this time frame she's useless it seems, still makes no difference really because even during the blood moon she still can't achieve what she wants so.

Straight away this movie gives you nothing, it launches you into this fantasy world (influenced by Lancashire apparently) with no explanations into what's going down. Apparently Ben Barnes is the seventh son of a seventh son and for this reason alone he must be trained by this Spook (Jeff Bridges), a spook being some kind of uber tough warrior who is dressed like a medieval English knight. Now, this begs the question/s...what is all this seventh son business? what does that mean exactly? why must he be trained by the Spook? and does he have a choice in this matter? Nothing is revealed and the story carries on leaving you the audience to ponder why. At the same time it also raises obvious questions about the spook, first off why is he called a Spook? I have an idea but how about you tell us huh. He's obviously some kind of Van Helsing type character that defends mortals from supernatural creatures and beings. He also seems to be a religious man and takes everything very seriously not showing many emotions in the process, alas we are simply not given too much to work with here so you gotta dig for yourself.

























I admit I did like the spooks appearance and visual design, very much the traditional old English knight of the Middle Ages. At times both Bridges and Barnes looked like they could of been in an adaptation of Assassin's Creed to tell the truth. Jeff Bridges facial hair is also very impressive and did actually add to his characters look, it gave off an air of ancient mystery about him, whilst at the same time a noble and slightly raffish look. So in the looks department Bridges was excellent, visually atmospheric to a tee. The problems started when he spoke, we all know Bridges has that unique sounding twang of his, well it beats the shit outta me what he was going for (accent wise) here because half the time I couldn't understand him. Now this isn't me just being picky, I am genuinely stating that Bridges could not be understood at times because of the weird voice he was using, sounded like he had a gob full of tobacco.

So the duo basically set off on this quest to the bad witches stronghold (Julianne Moore looking like a classic Disney villain) , and end up battling various stereotypical fantasy creatures along the way. The evil witch also has henchmen at her command who have various different powers such as transforming into animals, dragons, having four arms (bit like the six armed Kali created by Ray Harryhausen for 'The Golden Voyage of Sinbad') and being some kind lizard man who can crawl on walls and leap around like an X-Men character. Naturally this means we have to have an action sequence involving these guys, when I say action sequence I mean a very poor, laughable CGI filled action sequence. I must also add that this film is aimed at the younger audience, so there is no blood and at no time do any of these huge beasties eat anyone. They merely grab people in their huge maws and toss them to one side.



Another sequence set within a vast sandstone coloured city (very Middle Eastern looking), the duo are hired to kill a warlock (in cahoots with the naughty witch) who can turn into a werebear, yes that's right, a werebear. I'd still like to know how the cities soldiers actually knew where to find the duo, they just rode up to them out of nowhere, in the middle of nowhere, easy as pie. Anyway this is another badly realised CGI flop of epic proportions and it doesn't even add anything to the plot frankly. All you get is the predictable message that Ben Barnes isn't ready to kill unlike Jeff Bridges Spook. The funny thing here was this werebear is locked up in a cage yet it busts loose the minute the dynamic duo enter the room. If it could break out that easily why didn't it break out sooner??

Not everything looks bad though, there is some lovely location work which really gives this world some scope. Some of the fantasy elements are pretty cool, I liked the creepy forest with the ghasts floating around. The Spook's (Bridges) home was well created and looked like a typically olde worlde, cobweb ridden, stonewalled semi-dungeon, semi-tavern type abode complete with lots of eerie trinkets hanging around. I also quite liked the huge woodland troll monster thing and the undead skeletal knight that Barnes character has to fight for his training.

This movie has various problems and its biggest is the fact its just too dumb, it tries to be clever and kinda epic but its just another lame quickfire fantasy rushed out. There are so many plot holes and plot conveniences it just ruins everything, its shameful because you can clearly tell they're trying to emulate certain recent big fantasy franchises for grandness. I mean honesty, how did the duo survive that massive waterfall plummet unscathed, come on! Everything is so corny and unoriginal its painful, there is nothing new to bring to the table here lets be honest. To make matters worse it all leads up to this completely crappy finale with big CGI dragons and lots of boring, ropy looking battles with all the hokey henchmen.

It really does feel like they're just trying to capitalise on The Hobbit (LoTR's) franchise by jumping on that bandwagon, riding on its coattails all the way to the bank...and nothing more. It all feels so formulaic, no real love in the project, just a fast food cookie cutter production that comes across as a bad Ray Harryhausen fantasy. A shame because Jeff Bridges character was good, best thing going here, I would be interested in seeing more of him.

5/10