'Seventh Son' Movie Review: Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore Drown in CGI Dragons in Another Failed D&D Lookalike

NOTE: This article is a contribution and do not necessarily represent the views of Player One.
In "Seventh Son" Jeff Bridges' accent is so ridiculous that you'll never notice the beard.
In "Seventh Son" Jeff Bridges' accent is so ridiculous that you'll never notice the beard. Legendary Pictures

Seventh Son seems like the kind of movie that a middle-schooler would make up late at night, just after Risk but before Magic: The Gathering. Had you heard Seventh Son breathlessly outlined in that soda and pizza-smelling basement it would have sounded like fantastic entertainment. But Seventh Son, as a movie, doesn’t live up to its late-night promise.

Sure, there are all sorts of dragons, were-beasts, walled cities on the shore of sublime lakes, magically-beautified witches, sword-fu, Chosen Ones, magic chemistry, staff fights and Jeff Bridges as an eccentric wizard. Hell, Seventh Son even has knowing winks to genre staples like D&D and Monty Python and the Holy Grail. For all of that, Seventh Son doesn’t add up to enough.

Seventh Son Movie Trailer

Don’t go see Seventh Son unless you intend to see Jupiter Ascending immediately after. Learn why in my Jupiter Ascending review.

Seventh Son is about a squared seventh son (a seventh son of a seventh son) who, as we all know, is seven times stronger than a normal man. These seventh sons are the only people worthy of a special order of Falcon Knights, who tend to the dark spirits of the world. This mostly means killing witches, especially Queen Witch Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore). Unfortunately, all of the seventh son falcon knights are either dead or converted undead, since they’re basically just Hafthór Júlíus Björnssons against dragon-witches and were-bears.

Seventh Son opens with the death of Master Gregory’s (Jeff Bridges) last apprentice, which means you get to see Julianne Moore strangle Kit Harington (who is more ineffectual as a witch killer than as a Jon Snow). But not to worry, because spooks (what the wider world calls the Jedi monk-like Falcon Knights) can always buy a new seventh son apprentice. Master Gregory settles on Tom Ward (Ben Barnes, we have a lot to talk about), who, as luck would have it, was just giving his pigs a speech about how he was going to get out of this small town life and make something of himself. Soon enough they’re fighting their way to Mother Malkin, and Tom is learning just how evil witches are… but also, maybe there are some good ones too?

There are a lot of problems with Seventh Son, but a goodly share has to do with protagonist Tom Ward. Ben Barnes is awful, more Hayden Christensen than Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker is great, but the Chosen One hero performance doesn’t exactly have a very high bar to clear--look at Neo). Like Christensen, the script and director don’t seem to do Barnes any favors. In Jupiter Ascending Channing Tatum has to push his charisma through an opaque script too, but unlike Barnes, it sometimes works.

The other major performances in Seventh Son are an odd lot. Jeff Bridges as Master Gregory first appears with such a laborious accent that I half expected him to abandon it after a few minutes. Everything he says sounds exhausting. Still, it kind of grows on you. It’s hard not to love Jeff Bridges muttering “fucking witches.” Julianne Moore is less successful, mainly because Mother Malkin only gets fun stuff to do when in giant CGI dragon form. Secondary characters mostly growl or purr before transforming into their witch-y spirit animals. Romantic interest, the good witch Alice (Alicia Vikander), is more enjoyable to watch than Tom Ward, but doesn’t have much to do except get caught in the middle.

The fantasy stuff in Seventh Son feels like Wrath of the Titans with a lot more heart. All of the magic and creatures in Seventh Son could use one more draft, with special effects that look expensive, but more Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets than Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. The CGI design just isn’t lived-in enough to be convincing and the endless, pile-on action sequences starts to get tiring. It’s hard not to groan when a moggart appears for a pointless chase when the audience knows there’s still a half dozen witches left in need of killing. Still, as a director Sergey Bodrov could have been a lot worse. Action is comprehensible and every once in a while exciting. You may not remember the flame knight of boredom, but giant bears and komodo dragons can be fun.

Seventh Son: A Wild Moggart Appears

Seventh Son is a bad movie, but you probably already know whether its sporadic and meager virtues will appeal to you. Does Jeff Bridges telling his apprentice that an ethereal forest ghost is “only a level 6” tickle you? How about a “burn the witch!” peasant scene with a doofy guy in a John Cleese hat?

Yes, that hat.
Yes, that hat. EMI Films

If so, Seventh Son will still be the bad movie you want so hard to be good. As studios search for the next Marvel Harry Rings, we’re bound to get a lot more movies like Seventh Son. Still, if Seventh Son is the worst that can happen (big if), then there's hope for the future of fantasy movies.

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