Friday marks the opening of the highly-anticipated fantasy adventure film Seventh Son, starring Jeff Bridges, Ben Barnes, Julianne Moore and Djimon Hounsou. Set thousands of years ago in medieval times, it tells the story of an elite knight who is charged with dispatching the forces of darkness from this realm. After the death of his first apprentice at the hands of the evil witch queen Mother Malkin, played by Moore, noble Master Gregory sets off to find a new apprentice in Thomas Ward (Barnes). As is often the case in all matters of youth and apprenticeship, he is arrogant, impulsive and foolish. However, when his master is forced to suffer the consequences of his apprentice’s stupidity, though that stupidity is clearly necessary for advancement of the plot, young Thomas Ward is forced to take up the ancient fight against the forces of darkness before his training is complete.
“I feel like it’s different living one’s life with everything being fated and having no choice for free will. That’s kind of unsettling to me,” said Barnes of playing the role of one whose life is predetermined. “But it’s also unsettling to think that the way that you behave and the way you treat other people doesn’t come back around and earn you something in return. So, you can put that in a category other than just chaos. I think it’s an interesting question and it’s certainly something that affects every element of your life. I think it’s an interesting theme to be exploring in the subtext of any film, whether it’s set in the future, in space, in the dark ages or in a cave.”
With the help of the half-witch Alice (Alicia Vikander) and the Tusk the Ogre (John DeSantis), Tom Ward is forced to stage a raid on the stronghold of Malkin and save the day. Filled with eye-popping special effects, Seventh Son would be merely another fanciful tale of simplified good and evil if it wasn’t for the underlying subplot between Malkin and Gregory bolstered by the acting chops of Bridges and Moore. The special effects were as captivating and wonderful as any other film of its genre, with a fight scene between two dragons being my personal favorite.
Here’s what Bridges had to say regarding destiny and the human experience when asked.
“You’ve got the universe. You’ve got all these things that we don’t know about, black holes and the whole deal, yet here we are. And somehow here we are. Allen Watts would say ‘Apple trees make apples, and the universe makes peoples. We’ve come out of this. So, it’s kind of destiny I guess. This comes out of the Big Bang and here we are in all of our challenges and all of our dilemmas.”
“One of the things I was hoping the film would convey rather than the traditional battle between good and evil, is that it could go a little deeper than that,” he explained. “During my research I came across the quote. It says ‘If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds and it were necessary to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line of good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?’ I’m hoping that’s in the movie somewhere. The bells in the ending scene reminds of a Bob Dylan song ‘Ring them bells ye heathens from the city that dreams.’ As it ends I say to Ben’s character ‘Remember all those things I taught you? Don’t follow any of those things. Follow your own heart. This is a journey that human beings are on. We still haven’t solved this problem of evil and how we deal with that. Not only the projections of evil out there, but the evil in your own heart. After all, (Mother Malkin) has every right to be pissed off. Her boyfriend locked her in a hole for a hundred years.”
At the end of the day, there aren’t many different ways that you can tell the same old story of good versus evil. Director Sergei Bodrov did an adequate job, but you’re only as good as your material. That being said, the writing could have been much, much better as much of the script was filled with cliché references that could be found in other films with similar themes, such as Maleficent and the Harry Potter film series. But I will give Seventh Son props for being kid friendly without any instances of gratuitous nudity, and the violence that does appear in the film is necessary for the advancement of the story. This movie has great actors, great special effects and adequate directing but is hindered by a pedestrian script.