Screened Out – Seventh Son

By : Stephen Miller
Comments: 0

Jeff Bridges, Julianne Moore, Ben Booth, Alice Vikander

We have dragons, witches, ghosts, ogres and sword fights. Yet all I can muster is a milquetoast review. Why? Because it’s boring. I mean, crushingly dull.

Though there are no major technical flaws with the fantasy flick Seventh Son, its single defining quality is insipidness. I’d give it two stars if I could muster the energy. Magical movies should get our blood to pumping, our hearts to racing, and our imaginations to soaring. Too much of this has been done before, and much better. Though the special effects are pretty solid, the acting is uneven. These characters are just not engaging or intriguing enough to elicit audience empathy.

Bridges – with a mouth full of marbles – is a “spook,” a knight whose job it is to keep the supernatural world in check. He once imprisoned a very powerful witch (Moore), who has escaped to gather her minions and exact revenge. Oh, and take over all the land, plunging it into eternal darkness, yadda, yadda, yadda…

Bridges could use some help. He recruits the seventh son of a seventh son. (Old, dusty folklore tells us they have special powers). This underwritten role goes to boring Barnes from Prince Caspian, Stardust, and Dorian Gray.

Julianne Moore doesn't quite ruin her chances for this year's Oscar, but she's also not very inspiring.

Julianne Moore doesn’t quite ruin her chances for this year’s Oscar, but she’s also not very inspiring.

Not that Bridges does much better. He looks and acts like Wild Bill Hickok after a particularly nasty bender. He speaks like his lower lip is full of chaw and cancer. His lines are hammy – half entertaining, half stupid.

There was some concern among movie fans that this substandard role in a substandard film would hurt Julianne Moore’s chances for an Oscar this year. (She’s wonderful as a Harvard professor with early onset Alzheimer’s in Still Alice.) She’s not quite that bad – not Eddie Redmayne in Jupiter Ascending bad (see my review). However, she doesn’t bring anything singular or particularly memorable to the role. It feels like this powerful, evil witch requires some serious scene chewing, a’la Angelina Jolie or even Charlize Theron. Moore is a subtle actor; this showy role doesn’t fit her.

Ratings Key

See it now! Buy the DVD! Quote lines at parties!

Definitely worth the price of admission

It’s useful as a distraction

Maybe if someone else pays and you need a nap

Slightly worse than eternal damnation

Of course, Bridges and Moore have a more tangled history than the film first lets on. There’s a plot twist so obvious that a dead person couldn’t miss it coming. There’s also another tacked-on romance between Barnes and Vikander, the daughter of one of Moore magical minions. Vikander (Anna Karenina) comes from the Kristen Stewart school of acting – meaning it’s hard to tell if she’s even awake. Basically, she’s a pretty face unclouded by thought.

Magic abounds and yet so much of this comes down to fistfights. Why? Other questions arise, but really this stuff is too uninspiring to dig for answers.

It’s all based on a series of fantasy books that aren’t particularly well known, presumably because they are as reductive and dull as this movie.

The special effects are at least watchable. However, do we want to sit through another Van Helsing or Hansel and Gretel or Brothers Grimm? Even those variously subpar flicks did better than this.

“Boring” should be the very last word a fantasy flick wants.

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