Skip to main content

Seventh Son is based on the first of a series of young adult fantasy novels called The Wardstone Chronicles by English writer Joseph Delaney.

Kimberly French/Kimberly French

1 out of 4 stars

Written by
Charles Leavitt and Steven Knight
Directed by
Sergei Bodrov
Starring
Ben Barnes, Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore
Classification
PG
Country
USA
Language
English

Who is a seventh son? A man of foresight and mysterious powers, and in the Willie Dixon blues song, Seventh Son, a lover extraordinaire: "I can take you, baby, hold you in my arms/ And make the flesh quiver on your lovely bones."

Seventh Son, the movie, sounds promising. The story is based on the first of a series of popular young adult fantasy novels called The Wardstone Chronicles by English writer Joseph Delaney. Russia's Sergei Bodrov directed the Oscar-nominated movie Prisoner of the Mountains. The screenwriters include Charles Leavitt, behind the Leonardo DiCaprio thriller, Blood Diamond, and Steven Knight (Eastern Promises, Locke). The front-of-camera talent includes Julianne Moore as a superwitch and her Big Lebowski co-star Jeff Bridges, as a witch fighter, or "Spook."

The younger couple, aimed at the intended young target audience, include the sensitively handsome, Ben Barnes (The Chronicles of Narnia) as Thomas, Gregory's apprentice, a young man whose occasional epileptic-type seizures cause him to have visions of the future. His romantic interest is rising Swedish star Alicia Vikander (A Royal Affair, Anna Karenina) as a winsome young half-witch, Alice.

Story continues below advertisement

Yet, even in 3-D and shot in the mountains of British Columbia, the film is a flat experience, with an incongruity between its big-budget ambitions and ho-hum impact. After a series of throat-clearing establishing scenes, we eventually learn that Master Gregory (Bridges) is a hard-boozing knight (Bridges's accent suggests a British Yoda talking through a mouthful of marshmallows), who has imprisoned the witch Mother Malkin many years ago.

Now Malkin has escaped, and as a woman Gregory previously scorned for another, has apocalyptic revenge in mind. With a "blood moon" approaching, Malkin (Moore, in her natural auburn hair and a Lone Ranger band of eye makeup) has summoned an army of too many creatures, including warlocks, ninja warriors, and one really big bear, to make the common folk even more miserable than they already are. Failing to establish either focus or rhythm, the movie attempts to use abrupt transitions to create a succession of scares and surprises. The two middle-aged, Oscar-calibre stars go eyeball-to-eyeball as they utter threats and curses, but the mixture of generic green-screen dangers and voice-altering technology, mutes any scary impact.

The common folk, who form the backdrop in a few scenes, look medieval (bodices, jerkins, swords) though there are enough broken columns and big-headed statues to suggest a sort of mash-up of Roman Empire and Easter Island, while Marco Beltrami's orchestral score is at full blast throughout, attempting to import a seriousness of purpose the script repeatedly betrays.

What we're left with is a story about women with special powers who must be burned alive to be defeated. Torching "witches" is the one part of the story that has some historical basis, and adds an uncomfortable edge of misogyny to this otherwise empty fantasy.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter