Here they stand, actors them all
All of them, to paychecks they’ll fall
Here awaits the start of the film,
Seventh Son, the years-long delayed fantasy one
For those of you not in the know, my favorite band is Iron Maiden. Every time I saw advertising for Seventh Son, all I could think of was their song “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son” off of the album bearing the same name. I sat there in the theater with my dad last week, pulled out one of the notebooks in my purse, and quickly scribbled down the above lines as the movie finally started. My handwriting is not great on the best of days, but in the dark as I’m trying to use my cell phone for light while not being an asshole about it? Yeah. That’s something else.
Last week, I discovered that my dad will generally accompany me to whatever movie I feel like wandering off to see. This is great when you have a weird schedule and want to see movies in a relatively timely manner. When I asked him if he wanted to come with me to see Seventh Son, he agreed. I bought tickets and then he asked me what the movie was about. My pre-movie summary was a lot like this, “It’s about Jeff Bridges‘ incomprehensible accent and Julianne Moore being awesomely evil. She turns into a dragon and everything.”
As it turns out, my synopsis wasn’t far off the mark.
In a nutshell, Jeff Bridges is Master Gregory, a “spook” who keeps people from being overrun by the forces of darkness. His first apprentice, Mr. Bradley (Kit Harington), meets with a fiery end and he’s in the market for a new lackey. That’s where Tom Ward (Ben Barnes) comes in. He’s a seventh son of a seventh son who has the bonus ability of random visions of the future. Together, they go off on a quest to keep Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore) from taking over the world. Sorcery and shenanigans ensue.
I wasn’t expecting too much from this movie. After all, its release was delayed a couple of times. The studio must not have thought too much of it if they decided to finally shove it out into theaters in February. That said, it wasn’t too bad. I enjoyed myself.
While the special effects were certainly of a cinematic caliber, the plot and much of the dialogue reminded me of the days when SyFy was still The Sci-Fi Channel and they made crappy fantasy films instead of the disaster and monster of the week movies to which we’ve become accustomed. The story is a retread of many of the same tropes we’ve grown to know, love, and resign ourselves to seeing on screen again and again.
What kept me from hating this movie is seeing how much fun the cast must have been having with their roles. Bridges and Moore just chew scenery like it’s no one’s business. On top of that, I did like the action scenes and how they did manage to put the occasional new twist on a tired trope.
After leaving the movie, I dusted off my old rating scale for movies. There are some movies that I am going to buy the day they come out and happily pay full price for them. There are movies that I’ll never, ever own. In between those extremes, there are the Free, $5, $10, and $15 movies. Those are the maximum prices I’ll pay to add a movie to my collection. Seventh Son? It’s a $10 movie. I enjoyed it and I’m going to have fun giggling at it when I acquire it, but I’m not going to go out of my way to spend more to purchase it.
One of the things I liked about this movie is how the ladyfolk weren’t damseled. Sure, one had to die for some manpain and motivation because that’s just how these movies go, but the others? They were some fierce combatants. The love interest, Alice (Alicia Vikander), even played a vital role in the final confrontation. That’s sadly refreshing. I say that because it’s sad that such a thing is refreshing.
While it scored a point in the not being completely sexist category, it did bum me out a bit to see some slight issues racial stereotypes. Of course the black witch turns into some kind of jungle cat instead of a dragon like a couple of her fellow witches. Of course there’s the four-armed guy who’s clearly a reference to Indian mythology. It’s the 21st Century, folks, we can do better than the trappings of old racist ideas about accessorizing your characters of color.
One of these days, I’d like a fantasy movie of this caliber to actually surprise me by not succumbing to problematic stereotypes. I have faith that we’ll get there. Someday. Maybe.