It’s quite a weekend for Oscar winners and nominees giving absurd performances. First, Best Actor nominee Eddie Redmayne showed up as the villain in “Jupiter Ascending,” and now Best Actress frontrunner Julianne Moore and Best Actor winner Jeff Bridges are starring in the long-delayed fantasy film “Seventh Son.” The film was first slated for release in February 2013, then delayed until October 2013 for post-production reasons, then moved to January 2014 after Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. ended their partnership, and finally pushed to its current February 2015 release date. After a delay that long and high profile, the best that can be said is that not all of the reviews are totally scathing.
Critics are calling “Seventh Son” an unoriginal fantasy driven by bland CGI battle sequences. The film’s script has been derided for its clunky, expository nature, and the only points of praise have been for Bridges and Moore’s odd performances. The former doubles down on the drawling, mumbling work he did as Rooster Cogburn in “True Grit,” while Moore vamps it up as the film’s villainous witch. Fans of first-rate actors hamming it up are probably the only people who are going to get anything out of “Seventh Son.”
“Seventh Son” hits theaters February 6.
Peter Debruge, Variety
The movie opens with Marco Beltrami’s orchestra at full blare, swiftly yet clumsily setting up the scale of its widescreen world, which alternates between “Lord of the Rings”-like vistas and second-rate Sergio Leone-style compositions, where characters who appear to have been shot against greenscreens are restaged against more dramatic backdrops. We meet Gregory drunk in a saloon — a recycled version of the half-soused shootout that serves as Doc Holliday’s introduction in “Tombstone,” revealing a bit too much “True Grit” still stuck in his woolly, billy-goat beard. Bridges is on his own weird wavelength here, his L.A.-surfer-dude accent half buried beneath a pronounced underbite and a deep, indistinct growl. Read more.
Tim Grierson, Screen International
Chewing the same cud as he did in “True Grit” and “R.I.P.D.,” Bridges plays Gregory as a growling, mumbling, slightly loopy warrior. It’s slightly amusing seeing the Zen-like actor portray a deadpan medieval knight, but at this stage of his career, we’re used to the “Big Lebowski”-slacker routine, and so the rewards are fleeting. Likewise, Moore gives us an evil witch heavy with mascara and severe line readings. Not quite florid enough to be campy, the performance is a study in fearless commitment to deeply dopey material. Read more.
Jordan Hoffman, The Guardian
While “Seventh Son” has trace elements of Saturday afternoon fun, its unoriginal nature gets the better of it. I mean, if you were ever a young man coming of age in a high fantasy and wore an elaborate locket of unknown origin around your neck, wouldn’t you know by now that it signified a noble heritage? There are flashes where you think “Seventh Son” is going to be wise enough to put a spin on the standard script, but by the end it just devolves into another loud, messy CGI brawl. How much more ruined masonry can moviegoers take? A lot, it seems, as this genre seems to be in no danger of going away. Read more.
Bodrov is best known for his Oscar-nominated drama “Prisoner of the Mountains,” which he followed with international action flicks including “Mongol: The Rise of Genghis Kahn.” His style here is serviceable though hardly distinguishing, and nothing in the “Seventh Son” really pops off the screen, with three credited editors cramming everything into a neat 100 minutes. It’s as if the film had entered Legendary’s assembly line with some promise but then started clogging up the machine, its release delayed for nearly two years due to postproduction woes and issues with then-partner Warner Bros. Read more.
As is often the case in films like this, “Seventh Son” is at its weakest when it tries to leaven its brink-of-disaster gravity with a little nerdy humor, playing Gregory’s fondness for booze for clunky laughs or breaking up the faux-medieval dialogue with a jarringly contemporary-sounding aside. But even when it’s playing it straight, the dialogue clinks and clanks, laden down with aphorisms, melodramatic threats (“I…will…haunt…you!”) and endless exposition. The first lines we hear from Tom are a speech he makes to his little sister about how out of place he has feels on the family farm. “I’m going to leave this place soon. I know it!” he tells her in a typically hamfisted bit of foreshadowing. Read more.
Andrew O’Hehir, Salon
That description may make “Seventh Son” sound totally pointless. Which, essentially, it is! But there are reasons why you might consider seeing it anyway. Those primarily comprise Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore, the former as a bearded, boozy witchfinder or exorcist named Master Gregory, who splits the difference between Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski and Rooster Cogburn of “True Grit,” and the latter as Gregory’s sexy, evil, reptilian nemesis, an ancient witch called Mother Malkin. When in human form, Mother Malkin resembles an aging East Village Goth-princess type, who eyes Gregory’s hunky new apprentice, Tom Ward (Ben Barnes), with Ur-cougar hunger. “A boy!” she purrs, slithering across the digital ruined-castle backdrop like a cobra turned fashion model. “I like boys.” Read more.
Matt Prigge, Metro
Moore can seem lost in big budget fare, but she locks onto a vampish swagger that makes her joy contagious. She purrs through her lines, not worrying that her character will frequently just turn into a dragon that slithers through the sky. Where Bridges deflects embarrassment through bemused disengagement, Moore goes tongue-in-cheek, elevating forgettable trash into momentarily half-engaging forgettable trash. Read more.
Matt Singer, ScreenCrush
Bridges tries his best to liven things up, playing his part with an exaggerated accent and expressions, but even The Dude going full camp — plus Moore matching him step for step as a cackling villainess who occasionally transforms into a giant dragon (with red dreadlocks!) — can’t save ‘Seventh Son.’ Those two performances aside, it’s pretty generic stuff, from Barnes’ bland hero to the drab CGI and makeup effects, to Sergei Bodrov’s workmanlike action staging. Read more.
Scott Tobias, The Dissolve
Bridges is one of the best actors alive, in part because he gambles on roles like Gregory, whom he plays as a mush-mouthed drunk with a twinkle in his eye. He looks awfully silly doing it, too, but there’s a jaunty life to his performance — and to Moore’s witchy imperiousness — that throws the film’s generic qualities into sharp relief. Read more.