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The Seventh Son – Review


Release Date: 6 February 2015
Director: Sergei Bodrov
Writer: Charles Leavitt - Steven Knight - Matt Greenberg
Cast: Jeff Bridges – Julianne Moore – Ben Barnes



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Posted August 3, 2015 by

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The Seventh Son Review:

For nearly two years I walked by posters screaming ‘The Seventh Son’, wondering if the film would ever get a release date (if only to stop staring at Jeff Bridges’ grizzled mug every time I went to the cinema). Due to production delays the film was eventually released in early 2015 to absolutely no fanfare.

Based on ‘The Spook’s Apprentice’ series by Joseph Delaney, the film is a fantasy that follows the spook Gregory (Bridges) as he trains Tom Ward (Barnes), the titular seventh son of the title, in defeating the wicked witch Malkin (Moore). Collective eye-rolling aside, the film feels familiar, like a mix of all the fantasy films before it. It doesn’t help that Prince Caspian himself is the swashbuckling hero of the story (sans a fake tan and accent this time, though). It is performed half-heartedly by Moore and Barnes and ham-fistedly by Bridges, whose accent is nigh ineligible (seriously, what was he saying?).

Where this film sinks below the rest of its genre is in its choice of the wicked witch’s lieutenants – every single one of them is played by an actor of colour (I double-checked). This when none of the good guys were played by actors of other ethnicities. The casting is glaring, and when seen through the lens of 2015 (this may not have been such an issue in 2013 when the film was in production) the film leaves a bad aftertaste. Heading the lieutenants is Djimon Honsou, who I wish could transport himself to an alternate dimension where he’d be recognised for his talents and merited for his performances. Also amongst them is Kandyse McClure, familiar to ‘Battlestar Galactica’ fans as Lt. Anastasia ‘D’ Dualla. We have the token ‘Indian’ villain, named Virahadra, which appears to be a misspelling of an actual mythological Indian figure named Virabhadra. He’s also not played by an Indian actor.

If the film’s attempts at ‘diversity’ weren’t bad enough, it has an equally poor idea of women. There is the love interest who has absolutely no powers, played by Alicia Vikander who seems to be in every single film on earth (is there a dearth of young women actors?). Notable character achievement – happily giving into a non-consensual kiss (because… movies). There’s her downtrodden ‘mother’, played by Antje Traue (who is so far removed from her turn as the fierce Feora-Ul from ‘Man of Steel’ that I could hardly believe it was the same actor). Antje is also a grand total of seven years older than Vikander, so there’s that convincing portrayal of mother/daughter relationship goals. There’s also our hero’s mum (Olivia Williams) who continues the fantasy trend of secretly powered mother who does absolutely nothing with her abilities till after the proverbial **** has hit the fan. Also, she’s barely 20 years older than Ben Barnes, but he’s her seventh son? This world is seriously disturbing when it comes to acceptable child-bearing ages.

Finally, we have the main baddie. Usually Julianne Moore as a fierce witch would be great to watch. But Malkin’s not bad and awaiting world domination because that’s what bad guys just like doing, she’s bad because she got jilted, her heart got broken and she got mad. And you know what happens to women when their hearts get broke, right? Pfft… Women! (It’s an effort not to break something just thinking of it).

All the bad guys are easy to kill as long as you distract them with something. It’s painful watching all these people get dispatched within seconds of joining the fight. Most of the film follows Gregory train Tom, but if we wanted to watch a movie about training people, there’s a host of gritty army movies for us to catch up with.

Pretty much the only authentic part of the film was Ben Barnes’ (frequent) screams of terror. They sounded outright genuine. His occasional bouts of humour made the film just about watchable. But that’s pretty much the only thing going for it.

Readers of the book series have called it out on several other issues (apparently the protagonist is aged just 12 in the book? No matter how young Ben Barnes is able to look, 12 is pushing it). With its production issues, it’s not a surprise the film turned out as poorly as it did. Some of the cinematography is breath-taking, but none of it makes up for its many egregious sins. I do wonder how this film got green-lit at all.


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Lestat de Lioncourt
Random Thoughts – Lestat’s Blog
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