Saturday, 25 April 2015

"Most of life's burdens, with a little help, can become a gift."

Adapted from Joseph Delaney's young adult fantasy novel The Spook's Apprentice – part of a 14 book series – Seventh Son involves a reluctant hero (Ben Barnes) enlisted by a wizened elder (Jeff Bridges) to fulfill an ancient prophecy. With the film's release repeatedly pushed back, Seventh Son sadly warrants the bad buzz.

Julianne Moore (Still Alice) plays Mother Malkin, a witch with the ability to turn into a dragon. Bridges, meanwhile, is Master Gregory, a gruff and crusty old wizard who takes on a new apprentice, Tom (Barnes) to help him fight the witch dragon and attain the mystical jewel she covets. Tom falls in love with the enchanting Alice (Alicia Vikander), Malkin's niece, who is also a witch, although we are unsure whether she is of the evil dragon variety or the helpful, pixie witch kind.

The bulk of the movie finds the titular Tom and his gravelly boss tromping through a standard fairyland. A world filled with shape-shifting creatures, treasured amulets and the obligatory rambling about greatness and destiny. Not to mention a healthy dose of embarrassment. To be fair, director Sergei Bodrov (Mongol) delivers a sumptuous digital kingdom. His digitally enhanced landscapes are filled with all manner of magic, from foreboding castles whose spires stretch into the clouds to intricate monsters and ghouls so life like you can almost smell their fetid breath.

And that's arguably the problem. If this was the 1980s, Seventh Son would be camp gem Beastmaster (1982), and the dragons would be made of paper mache and rubber cement. Here, though, instead of a few cheap kicks, you end up lamenting all the money (a reported $95m budget) and effort invested in a film that plays like the most disposable Saturday matinee fodder imaginable.

While Bodrov delivers humour and Ray Harryhausen inspired confrontations with a steady hand, the swollen budget and impressive digital effects fail to enliven proceedings in yet another swords and sorcery dragon chaser.

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