This movie had every potential to be downright terrible.
Throw witches, magic, angsty teenagers and crazy adventures into one two-hour film and you get Beautiful Creatures a cheesy teenage adventure. Instead, an all-star cast of Julianne Moore and Jeff Bridges and the sheer effort put into a film whose release date had been constantly pushed back by over a year managed to make Seventh Son both terrible and fairly entertaining at the same time.
Based off of Joseph Delaney’s fantasy novel The Spook’s Apprentice, the plot follows the beautiful and sassy Tom Ward (Ben Barnes) as he discovers he is a seventh son of a seventh son, who are known to have incredible powers. Tom knows that he will one day take on an apprenticeship from a Spook to learn how to fight evil creatures. His life on his family farm in what appears to be medieval England is quiet until he is recruited by (read: sold to) a Spook named Master Gregory (Jeff Bridges) who appears to be both too old to row the boat he came in and highly irritable.
Despite our inability to understand anything Bridges says for over half the movie, we learn he is basically an older version of The Hunger Games' Haymitch – always drunk, blubbering, and wicked good with a knife. Master Gregory used to belong to a group of knights who protected the realm from boggarts, ghosts, ghasts, and most of all, witches, until they all succumbed to the darkness. When the most powerful witch, Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore) escapes her confinement, Tom must learn how to take on the witches and save the land from destruction, before its too late.
Barnes spends a lot of his screen time making puppy eyes and getting into everyone’s personal space, because he is the Most Important Person Ever and he knows it. His witty jabs are the only funny comments in the whole movie—other lines, mostly from Bridges, come off as awkward and confusing. The two learn to swordfight and throw knives, none of which seems to appear to have any real use when it comes to fighting actual creatures, as Barnes spends most of the actual battle time flailing about or smoldering. Kit Harrington also appears for the first five minutes as the first spooks apprentice, which gave me hope until he is burned alive, a fate similar to his last movie. Then the rest of the film was up to Moore, whose acting literally saved the day. When Moore transforms into a dragon? I got chills.
Although the plot isn’t the most complex, the movie’s sets, CGI magic and Tom’s love story can captivate the audience. The most confusing thing about Seventh Son is the effort that went into literally everything but the plot to make it good: gorgeous scenery, A-list actors who play off their mediocre lines with as much enthusiasm as possible, and flawless editing. I guess director Sergey Bodrov still needs to take a page out of Mockingjay director Francis Lawrence’s book on how to transform a sad book plot into an incredible film.
This movie is most like the Percy Jackson films – actors slipped in and out of period accents, creatures were everywhere and the fighting was gallant and long. The scenery was brilliant and awe-striking, and when witches turned into dragons it made me want to be a witch, too. If you loved the fantasy and young adult movies like The Mortal Instruments and Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, this movie is for you. If you didn’t…you might have to wait until April to catch another glimpse of Jon Snow.
Rating: 3 stars