Thursday, February 12, 2015

Seventh Son

Thrills, dragons and goblins
Director: Sergey Bodrov

Studio: Universal Pictures/Legendary Pictures/China Film Co.

Cast: Jeff Bridges, Julianne Moore, Ben Barnes, Djimon Hounsou, Kit Harrington, Olivia Williams, Jason Scott Lee, Alicia Vikander

Review by James Colt Harrison

Despite hazards along the way---the special effects company went bankrupt, Warner Bros. pulled out of a distribution deal, a rookie Russian director handed the reigns, and a two-year post-production time--- Seventh Son has survived all the disasters and turns out to be a fairly entertaining action film. At last! A fantasy adventure that teen-age boys will love---and maybe you will, too.

Preparing to hate the movie because fantasy dragon stories are not this reviewer’s favorite genre, we sat back and felt we might as well enjoy the 3D cinematography of Newton Thomas Sigel. Mr.Sigel uses the three dimensional cameras as naturally as he can, and very little of the on-screen action is thrown off the screen and into the audience for shear “scare” tactics. It’s like seeing with real eyes!

Allegedly shot in British Columbia and various other exotic locations, the look of the film is sumptuous and not sleazy as one would think. The money is on the screen; the story is not. Written by Charles Leavitt, Steven Knight and Matt Greenburg, the boys have adapted Joseph Delaney’s fantasy novels into a road-company version of Lord of the Rings. There aren’t any cute little creatures in this film, but there are plenty of ugly flying goblins, oversized bears, eyeless monsters, smokey ghosts and shape-shifting witches and  dragons. Kids will be delighted---and scared out of their wits.

Boiled down to a gnat sized plot, the story is essentially that at one time Jeff Bridges rejected Julianne Moore’s romantic advances. Nothing like a woman scorned as they say, and she takes out her revenge in ridiculous proportions.

In a battle to gain control of the forest-laden kingdom, the good guys must do battle with the evil witches and dragons. Julianne Moore plays a fetching witch who is, of course, evil or there would be no reason for her part. Filmed through what must be camera filters made of linoleum, Ms. Moore again looks 20 years old and beautiful. Bridges plays Master Gregory, a wine-soaked battle veteran who hasn’t washed or shaved in decades. Bridges mistakenly thought if he improvised some sort of a mangled British accent he would seem more authentic. Not! He merely sounds as though he is suffering with a bad set of loose dentures or is gargling with marbles instead of mouthwash. He’s completely incomprehensible, and that may have added to his acting skills. Perhaps the Academy should petition to take back his Oscar®.

In an obvious attempt to appeal to the young set, handsome Ben Barnes is given the job as Tom Ward, the Seventh Son of the Seventh Son and is recruited as an apprentice to gnarly Bridges. Just barely out of his boyhood himself, Barnes must act as a man and save the kingdom. Along the way, the producers threw in a fledgling actress named Alicia Vikander as sex appeal. They are both cute and huggable and we root for them to get together.

It’s actually an enjoyable action film with plenty to see, terrific special effects, some revealing costumes for the ladies (from designer Jacqueline West), and smashingly decorative production design from Italian Dante Ferretti. (Moore’s Moroccan-style lair is dazzling).

So, Seventh Son probably won’t enter the records as a classic, but it’s good enough to keep you amused for a time.

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