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Review – Seventh Son (12a) [2015]

Seventh Son - Title Banner

Star Rating: 1.5/5

Director:

  • Sergey Bodrov – Prisoner of the Mountains, Nomad: The Warrior, Mongol: Rise of Genghis Khan, Fool’s Game

Cast:

  • Julianne Moore – The Big Lebowski, The Hours, Maps To The Stars, Still Alice, Freeheld
  • Jeff Bridges – The Big Lebowski, Iron Man, True Grit, RIPD, The Emperor’s Children
  • Kit Harrington – Game of Thrones, Testament of Youth, Pompeii, Spooks: The Greater Good
  • Olivia Williams – The Sixth Sense, Maps To The Stars, Anna Karenina, Man Up
  • Ben Barnes – The Chronicles of Narnia II & III, Dorian Gray, By The Gun, Sons of Liberty
  • Alicia Vikander – A Royale Affair, Anna Karenina, Testament of Youth, Ex Machina, The Danish Girl
  • Djimon Hounsou – Gladiator, Eragon, Blood Diamond, Guardians of the Galaxy, Furious 7
  • Antje Traue – Pandorum, 5 Days of War, Man of Steel, Woman In Gold

Music Composer:

There are some films that can be boxed into the category of ‘laughably terrible.’ Batman & Robin, Birdemic, Season of the Witch, Conan The Barbarian, Sharknado, and Pompeii are all awful films, yet they all have the saving grace of being amusing in their awfulness. Sergey Bodrov’s Seventh Son is another such movie.

Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore), having returned, she is now back at home, planning her evil ambitions for the world.

Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore), having returned, she is now back at home, planning her evil ambitions for the world.

Seventh Son is based on the first book in The Wardstone Chronicles (although it is called The Last Apprentice series in America) by Joseph Delaney. Delaney’s website, Spooksbooks, defines the plot for Seventh Son as: ‘In a time long past, an evil is about to be unleashed that will reignite the war between the forces of the supernatural and humankind once more. John Gregory (Jeff Bridges) is a Spook, a person who fights against the Dark, who had imprisoned the malevolently powerful witch, Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore), centuries ago. But now she has escaped and is seeking vengeance. Summoning her followers of every incarnation, Mother Malkin is preparing to unleash her terrible wrath on an unsuspecting world. Only one thing stands in her way: John Gregory.

‘In a deadly reunion, Gregory comes face to face with the evil he always feared would someday return. Now he has only until the next full moon to do what usually takes years: train his new apprentice, Tom Ward (Ben Barnes), to fight a dark magic unlike any other. Man’s only hope lies in the seventh son of a seventh son.’

Yes, the plot is that laughable. It is plodding and silly, with predictable twists and a waterfall of fantasy clichés thrown into the mire. Indeed, there are so many fantasy clichés in Seventh Son that it is hard to believe that the film is anything other than an inferior derivative of other (better) fantasy stories. But unlike with other (irredeemably bad) fantasy films, like Reign of Fire and Rise of the Shadow Warrior, at least with Seventh Son one can enjoy pointing out where James Delaney/Sergey Bodrov have gained their inspiration from. In some scenes, the inspiration is so blatant one might as well re-watch or reread the works JRR Tolkien, Susan Cooper and David Eddings, and Dungeons & Dragons and Season of the Witch for good measure (to name but five). Some of the ideas in those stories might be bad or badly executed by today’s standards. But they were originals, if not classics, in their time.

Tom (Ben Barnes) and John Gregory (Jeff Bridges), pupil and mentor, going from place to place in classic fantasy style.

Tom (Ben Barnes) and John Gregory (Jeff Bridges), pupil and mentor, going from place to place in classic fantasy style.

Yet, if one thought the storyline for Seventh Son was the most ludicrous element of the movie, it pales in comparison to the dialogue. Unsurprisingly, the dialogue is lazily-written, clunky and hackneyed. But, at times, it is delivered with a campiness that one cannot help but laugh at, with Jeff Bridges being the Offender-in-Chief. Playing a cross between Gandalf and Rooster Cogburn, Bridges is barely comprehensible. Yet, he has a smile on his face for the entire film and looks like he is enjoying himself enormously in spite of (or maybe because of) the paucity of the script.

The same, however, cannot be said for the rest of the cast. Julianne Moore, habitually brilliant (and particularly so in the recent Still Alice), is shockingly dreadful as the one-dimensional, wicked witch. Appearing as a cut-rate cross between Queen Ravenna from Snow White and a latex rip-off of Melisandre from Game of Thrones, Moore looks bored at best and embarrassed at worst whenever she is on screen. Olivia Williams, Kit Harrington, Alicia Vikander, Djimon Hounsou and Ben Barnes all wear similar expressions during Seventh Son. It is as if this predominantly talented cast all know that they’re in a movie that stinks to the stratosphere and are just pleading for their scenes to be over so they can pick up their pay-checks and move on.

Alice (Alicia Vikander) rising seductively in the lake to entrance someone (I wonder who?) with her beauty.

Alice (Alicia Vikander) rising seductively in the moonlight to entrance someone (I wonder who?) with her beauty.

Likely, the cast had moved on and forgotten about this car-crash of a movie… until it returned to haunt them with its release in cinemas recently. Seventh Son was filmed in 2012 and was in post-production for more than two and a half years. The movie was supposed to have come out in 2013 and then in 2014, but was delayed on three occasions due to post-production troubles. Oddly, though, Seventh Son does not feel like a troubled production (unlike Transformers II, The Wolverine and The Hobbit III). It just feels wretched, pitifully comical and cheap, especially when it comes to the CGI. For a film which cost Legendary studios near $100million to make, one expects to watch a better movie, and consequently it is no surprise that the film has flopped. (Legendary studios expect to make an $85million loss on the movie.)

All-in-all, Seventh Son is an all-round awful film. From the script, to the acting, to the CGI, the movie is abysmal and filled with enough fantasy clichés to stuff a duvet. Nevertheless, the film has one saving grace: it is unintentionally hilarious. Thus, Seventh Son can be boxed into the category of ‘laughably terrible’ and can be enjoyed for the atrocity that it is alongside Batman & Robin, Birdemic, Season of the Witch, Conan The Barbarian, Sharknado, and Pompeii.

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Review – The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (PG) [2010]

Star Rating: 3/5

The Chronicles of Narnia series is much like Ronseal, the woodstain/wood-die product.  The Narnia series does ‘exactly what it says on the tin’ and the third instalment in the series, The Voyage of the Dan Treader, is no different.

Unlike in the first film (The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe) and the second one (Prince Caspian), Edmund (Skandar Keynes – Narnia series) and Lucy (Georgie Henley – Narnia series) return to the world of Narnia without Peter (William Moseley – Narnia series) and Susan (Anna Popplewell – The Girl with the Pearl Earring, Narnia Series).The latter two are too old for another adventure. In their stead, Lucy’s and Edmund’s obnoxious cousin Eustace (Will Poulter – Son of Rambow, The Revenant) enters the fray.

King Caspian and Edmund are delighted to see one another again. Caspian will need Edmund’s ability to wield a sword if he is to emerge victorious once more.

This time, Edmund, Lucy and Eustace have been sent back to Narnia to join King Caspian (Ben Barnes – Prince Caspian, Dorian Gray, Seventh Son) on board the king’s ship, the Dawn Treader. Caspian is on a quest to find the seven lost swords and banish the evil that resides on a dark island far away… as well as within themselves. For how the main characters evade their various temptations will be equally as tough as acquiring the swords.

The plot for The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is meant for children, so it’s easy to follow and far from complex. Although almost two hours long, neither a child nor an adult is likely to be bored throughout the movie. Indeed, the film is entertaining.

Yet, aside from the entertainment value, the acting and the dialogue are so bad it makes the three main characters in the Harry Potter series seem decent. (Anyone who’s read my review of the Deathly Hallows: Part I, will know what I think of them.) Keynes and Henley have failed to grow into Edmund and Lucy respectively over the years; whilst Barnes’ acting seems to get worse every time he appears on screen.

Eustace holding a sword on the Dawn Treader as he attempts to defeat Reepicheep the mouse. These two are undoubtedly these two most hilarious characters in the film.

Arguably, the exceptions to this are Poulter’s performance as Eustace and the mouse, Reepicheep (voice by Simon Pegg – Hot Fuzz, Star Trek). Eustace, despite being annoying and an unbearably difficult young boy, who detests being in Narnia almost to the bitter end, is actually quite funny. (Whether he’d be quite so funny if one had to look after him in real life is another matter.) Reepicheep, as a professional ‘swordsmouse’ that never shuts up, is similarly amusing.

Additionally, unlike in the Harry Potter films and The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the special effects here are nothing special. This is disappointing because there is little reason for the director, Michael Apted (The World is Not Enough, Enigma), to have done them poorly; other than, perhaps, a lack of enthusiasm for the project.

Then again, children are not really going to notice such details. Nor are they going to care if the acting or the dialogue is terrible. They just want to see a fun film they can follow and enjoy. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, like the two other films in the franchise, fulfils this criterion. That it is watchable for adults is a bonus.

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