They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery but in the case of “Seventh Son” it’s a case of imitation as a sincere form of ripoff. Borrowing liberally from “Lord of the Rings” and “Game of Thrones,” the new wannabe epic starring Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore is seventh rate fantasy film fare.
Based on the first book in the “The Wardstone Chronicles” series by Joseph Delaney, the story is a tale of good and evil, set in a world “where legends and nightmares are real.” Bridges is Master Gregory, a knight specializing in what knights do—slaying “creatures of the dark.”
Centuries ago he imprisoned Mother Malkin (Moore), a malevolent witch now on the prowl again. When she does away with Greg’s apprentice, the aged knight must recruit a new helper. Trouble is, the new guy must be the seventh son of the seventh son.
As rare as a Starbucks barista who can actually get the names on the sides of cups right, after a search the seventh son of the seventh son presents himself in the form of Tom Ward (Ben Barnes). “Keep him safe,” yells Tom’s mom (Olivia Williams). “Alas dear lady,” slurs Gregory, “that is a vow I cannot make.”
To save the world from Malkin’s devilry Gregory has only until the next full moon to train his new apprentice, who, as luck would have it falls in love with Alice (Alicia Vikander), one of Malkin’s witchy sidekicks. Bet he didn’t mention that in the job interview.
“Seventh Son” gives you an appreciation of how accomplished “Game of Thrones” and “Lord of the Rings” are. The story borrows elements from each of those stories but hangs them on a framework so rickety it threatens to collapse under the weight of all the pilfered ideas. A dragon battle or two does not a genre movie make. Context and compelling characters do and the lack of either is just one of the many ways “Seventh Son” lets the audience down.
If you get past the Halloween supply store props and masks you’re left with am a-list cast doing b-movie work. Bridges hands in a strange what-the-heck-is-he-thinking-performance, complete with an almost unintelligible accent and scruffy facial hair that does more actual acting than he does.
Moore fares better, but should have taken a page out of Angelina Jolie’s “Maleficent” handbook. Let’s hope nobody from the Academy sees this or it could become her “Norbet.”
As for Ben Barnes, at one point the former “Narnia” star says, “I wish I was the sixth son.” He’s not the only one. If only Donald Trump were around to fire this apprentice.
At least “Seventh Son” offers up one useful piece of advice: “It is near impossible to battle demons with wet feet.” It’s also near impossible to enjoy this movie without visions of “lord of the Rings” and “Game of Thrones” dancing through your head.