Overview: A young apprentice is trained to protect good from evil. Universal Pictures; 2015; Rated PG-13; 103 minutes.
The Mediocre: After his current apprentice is killed, Master Gregory (Jeff Bridges) seeks, acquires, and trains Tom Ward (Ben Barnes) as tradition dictates, the seventh son of the seventh son is key in instrumenting efforts to keep evil entities at bay. Their sessions are intensified by the upcoming blood moon in which Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore), the evil queen, attains a higher level of her power. Master Gregory and Tom rely on one another to contain the beast that is Mother Malkin. The list of items that paint The Seventh Son in a favorable light is underwhelming, and I cannot pinpoint a single highlight.
The Bad: All seems promising, until Master Gregory commences his instruction with Tom. Tom possesses an unimpressive ability to throw knives and uncontrollable visions of the future. To his benefit, he acts in a swift manner. All around, character development in The Seventh Son is weak. Master Gregory and Tom are under a strict deadline of less than a week, and Tom does not display any sort of improvement. The seventh son requirement is uncalled for, as long as you have the abilities of a farmhand, you too can train under the tutelage of Master Gregory.
Pursuing an underlying theme of self-discovery, Tom meets Alice (Alicia Vikander), a young woman accused of being a witch. Previously seen in his visions, Tom pursues her and immediately, the two exhibit a connection, albeit a passionless one. Alice is infuriating. From the beginning, there are obvious indicators Alice will become a hindrance to Tom’s journey. She says she’s a witch, and Master Gregory says to not trust the witch. She says she’s good at stealing, and Tom basically begs her to steal the gift from his mother. Alice may claim affection for Tom, but her demeanor exhibits disinterest and a failed attempt in incorporating an amorous relationship. While on the topic of relationships, as mentor and mentee, Master Gregory and Tom have no rapport. Until the end of the movie, a sense of distrust remains. A pivotal moment in the movie is when Master Gregory shares the origins of Mother Malik. This moment acts as the crux between Master Gregory and Tom’s growth together and the revelation comprises the root of all their troubles. Both are downplayed, just like everything else in the movie. My lines of hope were severed with the fight sequences. A band of the best, fully-armored assassins outwitted by a novice apprentice-in-training is entirely unbelievable. Fortifying Mother Malik’s minions, her lieutenants are eliminated in one blow.
Final Thoughts: The Seventh Son is yet another example of a movie poorly representing the fantasy genre, relying on the impacts of visual effects and overlooking the foundations of character and plot building. Read the book. It cannot be worse than this movie.