Seventh Son, based off Joseph Delaney’s young adult fiction, The Spook’s Apprentice, is set in a fantasy medieval time period where dragons roam the skies and witches are feared and hunted. The plot involves a powerful witch, known to many as Mother Malkin (played by Julianne Moore), and her clan of supernatural assassins who have been waiting for the day of the Blood Moon to arrive (supposedly, it comes once every 100 years). This will be the day that grants witches their ultimate power, thereby making them nearly invincible from the threats of an ancient order of knights known as The Spooks. The Spooks are tasked with the responsibility of defending humans from the supernatural, and in this story, are simply recognized as witch hunters. But is Seventh Son a film worthy of your time and money?
Master Gregory, the last remaining member of The Spooks, chases after Mother Malkin with his apprentice William Bradley (in a cameo appearance by Game Of Thrones’ Kit Harington). The duo team fails to destroy her after confining her to a cage that’s used to light her on fire. The wasteful effort costs Master Gregory a good apprentice. Eventually, he recruits another apprentice, Tom Ward (Ben Barnes). Being the seventh son of a seventh son, Tom is regarded as ‘The Chosen One’ destined to put an end to Mother Malkin and her minions.
The plot is thin and has no direction. It’s just a cumbersome mess, because no time is spent on any character development and many of the scenes in this film are not plot-driven. Ben Barnes is woefully miscast as the protagonist Tom Ward. This film needed someone with a more powerful, and to a lesser extent, relatable screen presence to play someone as important as Tom. Tom Ward is essentially the pillar of the story, the “chosen one”, but yet we know very little of him. The film does mention that he occasionally experiences visions where he sees clips and flashes of events from the future. Yet, it fails to acknowledge the purpose or benefits served for one who possesses such a gift. Kit Harington, whose character was extremely short-lived in this film, would have made a better Tom Ward, and this isn’t due to his popularity as Jon Snow of Game of Thrones, but because he’s just a better and more seasoned actor.
Jeff Bridges simply mumbles his way through the entire film. The only thing that he seems to say a lot of is “ask stupid questions and you will get stupid answers”. Despite Jeff Bridges playing him as a drunk, silly man who can’t be taken seriously, you do get a sense that his character, Master Gregory, is a well-respected man, and is highly regarded as a hero to many of the townsfolk. However, there is yet a battle that shows him defeating his nemesis. On the contrary, in almost every fight scenes that he’s a part of, he seems to lose whenever he faces off with Mother Malkin and her witch clan. In the opening scene, there is a brief mention that it was he who managed to imprison Malkin, but later we learn that this was only possible because Malkin did not expect what was coming to her at the time simply because of the history between her and Gregory. In other words, he was only able to catch her because she let her guards down. Later in the story, we also find out that Master Gregory manages to burn many of the witches who serve Mother Malkin, but sadly the filmmakers fail to visually depict how this happened. Instead, the event was disclosed to the audience in one of the conversations between Malkin and her sister Bony Lizzie (Antje Traue). As a result, any credibility of Master Gregory as a great warrior who the witches fear is thereby lost.
Julianne Moore is easily the best of the cast. But as captivating as she is at playing the Queen of the witches, even she can’t save this film from its boring storyline. The film divulges bits and pieces of the history between her and Gregory, and we learn from their dialogues that the two shared better days in the past. However, either the film had lost my interest completely (and so I missed the part where it explained how things went wrong between them) or the film just completely ignored addressing this issue, and so I never quite understood why Master Gregory was so determined to destroy her, considering their past history.
The secondary characters also serve very little purpose with their presence. Aside from Alice Dean (Alicia Vikander), the daughter of Bony Lizzie, who is there to serve as the protagonist’s love interest, the other secondary characters do nothing to enhance or support the narrative. They are only there for the fight scenes, which consist largely of CGI effects and are mediocre at best. Virahadra (Zahf Paroo), the four-armed swordsman, is a pretty cool character and watching him fight is rather impressive.
Seventh Son is recommended for younger audiences and those who enjoy watching films riddled with special effects and CGI. However, if you’re looking for a plot-driven film, I’d pass on this one.