Seventh Son: Based on the Book Series “The Last Apprentice”
In a time of enchantments when legends and magic collide, the sole remaining warrior of a mystical order (Oscar® winner Jeff Bridges) travels to find a prophesized hero born with incredible powers, the last Seventh Son (Ben Barnes). Torn from his quiet life as a farmhand, the unlikely young hero embarks on a daring adventure with his battle-hardened mentor to vanquish a dark queen (Julianne Moore) and the army of supernatural assassins she has dispatched against their kingdom.
Sergei Bodrov directed Seventh Son from a screenplay by Charles Leavitt and Steve Knight and a screen story by Matt Greenberg, based on the book series “The Last Apprentice” by Joseph Delaney. The film is produced by Basil Iwanyk, Thomas Tull and Lionel Wigram. Jon Jashni, Brent O’Connor and Alysia Cotter are executive producers, with Jillian Share and Erica Lee co-producing. The film will be released in 3D.
Interview with Sergei Bodrov
Sergei Bodrov: People love to pass the blame onto others
February 2, 2015 ANTON DOLIN, RBTH
Russian director Sergei Bodrov’s film Seventh Son, a Hollywood fantasy based on the novels by Joseph Delaney and starring Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore, is scheduled for a U.S. premiere on Feb. 6. In an exclusive interview, Bodrov told RBTH about his experience working with American actors and budgets and explained his motives for taking on the project.
RBTH: How did it all start? Was it your idea to film Seventh Son, or was it an initiative of the producers at Universal?
Sergei Bodrov: It all started with my motion picture Mongol, which came out in 2007. It was very well accepted and released with positive reviews, it was nominated for an Oscar, and almost everyone relevant to the film business in America watched it.
At that time, I met with producers from the company Legendary; we were introduced by the director Zack Snyder. We started to work with them on an interesting project: Afghanistan. It was Zack’s idea, and I liked it, but Legendary wasn’t interested in the project. But a month later, they called and offered me Godzilla. At that time the project was in the embryonic stages. There was no script, only a young Korean screenwriter with an application that didn’t convince any of us… But then Seventh Son came up. It had been on the shelf for a long time; there was a time when Tim Burton had wanted to do it.
RBTH: Weren’t you scared when they offered it to you? After all, the material was unusual, and other directors had rejected it.
S.B.: I wasn’t scared. The movie needed to be filmed based on a children’s fairytale. The author is Joseph Delaney, an Englishman and schoolteacher who is now retired. His books are quite good, and one of them was even translated into Russian. I agreed to it almost immediately.
RBTH: What about the plot appealed to you?
S.B.: I was very interested in the topic of witch hunts. It’s a very modern topic. The Inquisition may be long gone, but the hunt continues to this day. We love to look for witches and accuse them of all sorts of sins because we always believe that we’re right. I’m not accusing anyone in particular; I’m applying it to the whole world. The majority of people everywhere think they’re always right. That was exactly the topic that touched me and that I attempted to develop.
RBTH: So you didn’t have full freedom of action?
S.B.: I did have freedom; for example, in choosing my team. They offered to let me compile my own list of people I wanted to work with.
Well, the producers did start clamping down on me at the last stage, as is always the case – when I had already filmed and edited the movie. “Maybe we could make it simpler here; it’s not clear to the audience…” It was impossible to make the film my own 100 percent. I had to make some compromises.
RBTH: Was the decision to invite Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore to play the main roles a compromise?
S.B.: That was my choice. Everything with Jeff was clear from the start; there was no better actor for that role. I went out to meet him. He’s not a simple person, and he doesn’t like that genre – films with special effects. He acted in two blockbusters –Tron and Ironman – and didn’t like it. He watched my earlier films and asked a good question: “Why are you doing this?” I told him it was my idea, about witch hunting, how we love to pass the blame onto others. He thought about it… and agreed to it.
I have loved Julianne Moore for a long time and wanted to work with her. We met and she quickly agreed to it. I hope she eventually gets an Oscar for one of her roles.
Rotten Tomatoes Reviews
In a time long past, an evil is about to be unleashed that will reignite the war between the forces of the supernatural and humankind once more. Master Gregory (Jeff Bridges) is a knight who had imprisoned the malevolently powerful witch, Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore), centuries ago. But now she has escaped and is seeking vengeance. Summoning her followers of every incarnation, Mother Malkin is preparing to unleash her terrible wrath on an unsuspecting world. Only one thing stands in her way: Master Gregory. In a deadly reunion, Gregory comes face to face with the evil he always feared would someday return. He has only until the next full moon to do what usually takes years: train his new apprentice, Tom Ward (Ben Barnes) to fight a dark magic unlike any other. Man's only hope lies in the seventh son of a seventh son. (c) WB
Rating:PG-13 (for intense fantasy violence and action throughout, frightening images and brief strong language)
Genre:Drama , Science Fiction & Fantasy
Directed By: Sergey Bodrov , Sergei Bodrov
Written By: Matt Greenberg , Charles Leavitt , Aaron Guzikowski , Steven Knight
In Theaters:Feb 6, 2015 wide
On DVD:May 26, 2015
Tomatometer Critics 13% | Audience 34%
February 26, 2015
Richard Roeper Chicago Sun-Times Top Critic
"Seventh Son" moves at a fairly quick pace and has a sense of humor about itself. That doesn't mean it's thrilling, or funny. Just that it's a quickly forgotten pile of junk.
February 6, 2015
** ½ James Berardinelli ReelViews Top Critic
Had Seventh Son been released in the 1980s, it would have been deemed an adequate - perhaps even good - fantasy adventure. However, in the three decades since Conan the Barbarian and Dragonslayer defined the genre's best big screen attempts, there have been significant changes. Fantasy fans demand complexity - something they have gotten from Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, and (on TV) Game of Thrones. By-the-numbers, generic plots no longer work and that, unfortunately, is what Seventh Son delivers. Impressive set design and visuals, excessive CGI, and a loud score from Marco Beltrami can't fully compensate for bland character development and a predictable narrative that rushes along on a linear trajectory.
Ben Barnes, who's no stranger to fantasy due to his role as Prince Caspian in a couple of the Narnia films, takes the lead. He's the "seventh son of a seventh son," which makes him destiny's child to fill the role of the "Spook's apprentice." Said Spook is Master Gregory (Jeff Bridges), the last of a warrior profession dedicated to the eradication of witches. When he takes Tom Ward (Barnes) away from his dear mother (Olivia Williams), the situation is dire: wicked witch Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore) has returned from a long span in captivity and is set upon fulfilling certain megalomaniacal desires. Her power will reach its apex with the arrival of the full blood moon and Master Gregory and Tom have that long to stop her. Complicating matters is the arrival into Tom's world of Alice (Alicia Vikander), the fated love of his life - who happens to be both a witch and Mother Malkin's niece.
Seventh Son feels a little like Clash of the Titans (without the mythological backstory or character names) in that it introduces a lot of big, ugly CGI monsters for Gregory and Tom to fight. There are dragons, giants, ghasts, and a variety of other things culled from the Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual. The plot is essentially a standard-order quest to eliminate the Big Bad Boss before she becomes unstoppable. Along the way, Tom evolves from being a pig keeper (a nod to The Book of Three?) into someone with Real Purpose. Call it the Luke Skywalker arc, although it was a lot more entertaining in 1977 when it happened a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.
Barnes' performance is suitably bland - he's handsome but there isn't much of a character for him to inhabit so he's forced to get by on good looks and limited charm. Alicia Vikander is equally photogenic but, like Barnes, the script doesn't demand much from her. Julianne Moore manages to go over-the-top without being completely ridiculous. She's about to win an Oscar but definitely not for roles like this. Then there's the strange case of Jeff Bridges who seems to be cannibalizing the "work" he did in R.I.P.D. That's not a good thing; it's as if he got lost on the way to an audition for a remake of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. His interpretation of Master Gregory is what one might expect for a Drunk Gandalf or Drunk Dumbledore. Very strange indeed.
Seventh Son, based on the novel The Spook's Apprentice by Joseph Delaney, probably achieves what director Sergei Bodrov intended. The problem is that Bodrov's ambition extends no further than providing audiences with snacks of visual awe. The cities of this medieval land are impressive, the monsters are menacing, and the magical displays are eye-catching, but it all feels rather hollow in the end. The movie didn't bore me but neither did it draw me in the way good fantasy should. The film's failings seem to be rooted in commonly held misperceptions about what a mainstream fantasy film should be like. The genre is at its best when it excites the imagination; it would be hard to qualify Seventh Son as either "exciting" or "imaginative."
February 6, 2015 |
** ½ Glenn Kenny
“Hope for the best, expect the worst.” Mel Brooks popularized that adage in a funny song he co-wrote for one of his most amusing films, the relatively obscure 1970 “The Twelve Chairs.” It’s a useful sentiment in general, but, for the film reviewer, something that applies most particularly in the first two months of the new year, which, at least as far as studio product is concerned, represent a dumping ground for problematic product or just plain unmarketable dreck.
Given the fact that its U.S. release date was moved not once, but twice, and that it now finds itself occupying a date in the aforementioned dumping ground, one might expect the Sergei-Bodrov-directed “Seventh Son,” a medieval fantasy tale with a strong Young Adult stress in its plotting (not surprising, as it’s based on a YA book, the first of three so far featuring the same characters, as is the thing these days) to be pretty bad. But, surprise! One doesn’t want to damn the movie with faint praise by saying “it’s not that bad,” but that’s kind of the most objectively accurate description of it, in all honesty. Subjectively, though? This critic, who’s an unabashed fan of the myth-mash-up monster movies of the ‘50s and ‘60s that featured a plethora of stop-motion-animated monsters and such, found himself rather enjoying more than a few portions of the movie, which indeed features a plethora of computer-animated monsters that at least seem to have been inspired by the work of such old-school tech masters as Ray Harryhausen.
Another attraction is that the adult leads of the picture are Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore. Bridges plays a righteous witch-hunting “spook” (he’s also a Knight of some secret sacred order or another) while Moore plays a near-omnipotent witch who’s going to use the once-in-a-hundred-years “night of the blood moon” to make herself 100% omnipotent. Of course these two characters have a romantic back-story. Of course they do. Since every other film critic writing about this movie is going to make some kind of “I didn’t think the sequel to ‘Big Lebowski’ would be THIS weird” joke, I’ll spare you my effort. It is, however, a pleasure to see The Dude and Maude in a clinch once more, even if Bridges’ mumble-mouthed, grizzled hero is more like his “True Grit” Rooster Coburn crossed with Richard Harris in “Camelot,” had Richard Harris been 70 in “Camelot.” In other words, it’s a truly eccentric performance, and why not. As for Moore, she looks gorgeous and slithers with enough menace that you can almost convince yourself that her dragon-morph isn't a special effect.
The YA aspect is provided by the spook’s new apprentice, the titular seventh son Tom Ward (Ben Barnes), who, of course, falls for a teen witch (half-witch, more accurately; the condition of half-witchdom plays a crucial albeit entirely predictable part in the plot) who’s the daughter of Moore’s right-hand witch. The standard complications ensue, but they’re pretty easy to gloss over if you just wanna get off on the fellas battling man-bears and multi-armed swordsman and a bald-pated guy who can make ax-blades out of his hands when he’s NOT being a dragon. At such points, and particularly during a cliff-diving-and-waterfall scene in which Tom goes up against a very stubborn giant, “Seventh Son” builds up the goofy charm of an old-school Saturday afternoon matinee. The tech credits, as they call them in the trades, tell you why: the effects were designed by original “Star Wars” guy John Dykstra, and the sumptuous art direction is by Dante Ferretti, who’s worked magic for the likes of Fellini, De Palma, and Scorsese. Olivia Williams and Djimon Hounsou are welcome components in the supporting cast, and the whole thing is over and done with in a good deal less than two hours. Not realy sure why they spent so much time on the janitorial view of things. Yes, the hero spends time on custodial work keeping the place clean, but there's a bit too much emphasis on the trash bags, as if suggesting that garbage bags are probably going to be used to dispose of bodies. But it turns out the the can liners are a fetish. The way this is revealed is hilarious even if it distracts from the main story. Expecting to be alone in the closet with the box of new trash bags, Wilson starts pulling them out of the box in a frenzy. But he didn't count on a night time visit from the boss. Imagine the janitor, mop in hand trying to get the disposable plastic bags back into the container before he's caught. The scene is deliciously uncomfortable on many levels, including one where trash bags have a legitimate use. A towering cinematic achievement? Hardly. But not entirely unsatisfying if this particular genre itch needs some scratching.
February 6, 2015
** ½ Rafer Guzman Newsday Top Critic
PLOT: A young farmer becomes the latest apprentice to a supernatural crusader. Rated PG-13.
BOTTOM LINE: No masterpiece, but a welcome February surprise with a lively cast and rugged action.
CAST: Jeff Bridges, Ben Barnes, Julianne Moore
You may not be expecting much from the supernatural action-adventure film "Seventh Son," and clearly neither is Universal Pictures, which has consigned the movie to the wintry graveyard of February. The movie is rather familiar-looking, with its dragons, demons, come-hither witches and Jeff Bridges playing a bearded guru. It will surprise no one to learn that "Seventh Son" is based on a young-adult novel, "The Last Apprentice," by Joseph Delaney.
As it happens, "Seventh Son" is a good example of what can happen when you assemble enough talent under one roof. The cast is strong and includes Julianne Moore, clearly enjoying herself as Mother Malkin, a dark queen who swans around like Joan Crawford in feathered shoulder pads. The Russian director, Sergei Bodrov (1997's Oscar-nominated Tolstoy adaptation "Prisoner of the Mountains"), breathes life into the action even when his screen is covered with computer-animated beasties. The screenwriting team includes Steven Knight, whose dialogue-driven drama "Locke" was a critical smash last year.
Does all this add up to excellence? No, but "Seventh Son" is not bad and sometimes even reaches good. Its hero is Tom Ward (Ben Barnes), whose mystical birth order makes him the ideal apprentice for Master Gregory (Bridges), a witch-hunter known as The Spook. Barnes' Tom is appealingly smart and has a stiff spine, and even though Bridges is basically playing a Zen surfer in medieval garb, the two actors develop an easy, comfortable rapport. There's also a youthful romance between Tom and a mysterious girl, Alice (Alicia Vikander), that feels convincingly sweet and urgent. Olivia Williams adds a note of tenderness as Tom's mother.
What "Seventh Son" lacks is a new angle on an old world. We've already seen just about everything here, from the ancient amulet to the grunting monsters. Helping compensate, though, are the rough action scenes, a few dark emotional shadows and an overall intelligence that shines through the special effects. "Seventh Son" may not become the franchise it hopes to be, but the movie at least put its heart into the effort.x
July 23, 2016
** Cristóbal S
What a waste of good actors and material. It's not a boring picture, but along with bad CGI and over the top interpretations (with the exception of Jeff Bridges), this isn't a recomendable film.
sophiarbartellgmailc sophiarbartellgmailc ½July 19, 2016
BWAHAHA holy moly! did they even read the book or did they just read the inside flap and decide to do an adaptation off of that?
July 11, 2016
What a complete waste of great actors! I'll watch almost any fantasy flick, generally several times, I am a total geek about this, but this was the worst. Retch. I gotta read Flixster more often, seems ratings are right on! Well done, I am a believer.
July 9, 2016
* Maria G.
This movie had a great cast and it was based off of excellent books and yet it was a complete failure. I could hardly understand anything jeff bridges was saying. Its like all of his words were being absorbed by his beard. If the movie had kept to the plot of the first book and not tried to have such a dark tone this movie would have been much better.
Peter CJuly 6, 2016
Really? A completely bland story with little efforts to acting by the crew
July 5, 2016
** Stephen M
I dunno, it had some nice shots, sceneries, costumes, plot, special effects... & yet you watch the whole thing feeling detached. It lacks decent writing, the language/banter was a bit too modern. There was way too much action infused that no one really cares about the characters. The characters are just not relatable to the viewer. It seems like the film hyped itself up peaked way too quickly & resulted in a fizzle.
July 5, 2016
*** ½ Sfrostys
I was disappointed they killed of the cute actor at the start of the show.
July 4, 2016
** Russ B
Disappointing mostly due to lack of depth in the characters and plot. They wasted the talents of this excellent cast.
June 13, 2016
*** ½ Frances H
Fun sword and sorcery, full of big special effects flick-worth a watch, if not indelibly memorable. Obviously the end tried to set up for a sequel, but the box office didn't rate one.