Master Gregory (Jeff Bridges) is the local spook, left with the responsibility of protecting his people from dark supernatural forces – and in particular, the menacing, nefarious witch Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore). Given the former is getting older and hasn’t quite got the strength he once possessed, he employs the young Tom Ward (Ben Barnes) as his apprentice, following on from a long list of those who took on the job and didn’t make it out alive. However if they can persuade Alice (Alicia Vikander) to join forces and infiltrate Mother Malkin from the inside, she could help the duo defeat this evil antagonist once and for all.
First and foremost, Seventh Son bears what can only de described as an abomination of a screenplay, with several one-liners that are laughable when laughing is certainly not the desired reaction. It therefore comes as something of a surprise to see Steven Knight attached to the project, as the man who wrote Locke, Eastern Promises and Dirty Pretty Things co-penned the script alongside Charles Leavitt. The faults in the narrative become glaringly obvious from the offset too, as we’re lacking in a substantial back-story, instead hurrying in to proceedings. Given this is the first of a potential franchise, a more perspicuous, fundamental opening is required to introduce us to this new world, and help us abide by this new set of rules and suspend our disbelief accordingly. Considering the title of the film, you can’t be blamed for thinking you’d missed six previous endeavours.
The performances do little to illuminate the screenplay either, with both Bridges and Moore both so hammy in their conviction. They may look like they’re enjoying themselves, but we’re certainly not. The former in particular stands out as the very worst thing about this project, turning in a performance that could almost be perceived as being a parody. He does that Brad Pitt thing from Inglorious Bastards with his mouth – yet this is amplified by a million and it’s just weird. Thankfully Moore has a slightly better character to work with, as though evil spirited, she still remains somewhat sympathetic, as she’s cast away for being a witch and so responds to that with violence – but you know that deep down there could be a different, better person there. She’s a victim of the darkness, but ultimately becomes the queen of it.
On a more positive note, the CGI is impressive in parts – though it’s used so incessantly that it becomes overbearing. The picture is made up of battle sequence after battle sequence, and you just crave a respite, something more intimate, more subtle. All in all it’s difficult to comprehend quite why this stellar cast all signed up to this distinctively lacklustre project, especially the case for Moore and Bridges. This is not quite the Big Lebowski reunion one had always hoped to have seen.