When Mother Malkin, the queen of evil witches, escapes the pit she was imprisoned in by professional monster hunter Spook decades ago and kills his apprentice, he recruits young Tom, the seventh son of the seventh son, to help him.
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John Gregory, who is a seventh son of a seventh son and also the local spook, has protected his country from witches, boggarts, ghouls and all manner of things that go bump in the night. However John is not young anymore, and has been seeking an apprentice to carry on his trade. Most have failed to survive. The last hope is a young farmer's son named Thomas Ward. Will he survive the training to become the spook that so many others couldn't? Should he trust the girl with pointy shoes? How can Thomas stand a chance against Mother Malkin, the most dangerous witch in the county? Written by
Set in medieval times in Europe somewhere, "Seventh Son" brings us back to a time when supernatural beings like witches, ghosts, ghasts and the like wreak terror on the countryside. The people depend on a special knight called the "Spook" to fight these creatures and restore peace.
Master Gregory is the last spook and he is getting on in age. In his last big fight with the grand witch Mother Malkin, he lost his latest apprentice Billy. Gregory searches for another "seventh son of a seventh son" to take his place.
His quest leads him to the farm of the Wards. As the young impulsive Tom heeds the Spook's call, will he be up to the task of becoming the new Spook before Mother Malkin fully regains her powers by the night of the blood moon? Or will Tom's falling for the charms of pretty Alice distract him from his destiny?
Cut down to its basic storyline, you would see a very common basic plot in many an adventure film: an old master training an heir-apparent to his position. This film takes that plot and brings into it fantastic monsters in action and teenage romance in bloom.
Ben Barnes plays Tom Ward. Barnes first gained attention as Prince Caspian in the Narnia films, though his career did not really fly too much. He takes another stab at stardom with yet another action fantasy with this one. Already a adult man, Barnes seemed too old for the character he is supposed to play. Anyhow, he still has a youthful mien to pull it off. I think he was cast so that a romance angle can be developed as well.
Jeff Bridges plays Master Gregory. He is at his hammy best here and he looks like he had a good time filming this. In fact, Bridges felt like he just reprised his role in last year's "RIPD", where he was a senior ghost policeman training a new recruit. Bridges had some witty ripostes which added the requisite humor to the proceedings.
Julianne Moore goes all campy playing Mother Malkin with evil relish and glee. She gets to wear more witchy-chic than Maleficent and she seemed to be having a field day with this over-the-top character, much unlike the more serious and quiet ones she is more known for. In addition, she and her coven of powerful witches (played by Antje Traue, Djimon Hounsou, Jason Scott Lee, among others) get to transform into dragons and similarly fantastic beasts, thanks to neat and nifty computer- generated special effects.
This film is based on the young adult novel "The Spook's Apprentice" written by Joseph Delaney. Unlike the atmospheric creepy book it was based on, the film is makes it more of an action fantasy for cinematic verve. Tom and Alice in the book are both pre-teens. The witch characters did not fit their descriptions in the book as well. They did not turn into animals, for one. In fact, one of the side characters, the deformed humanoid Tusk, even shifts over from evil in the book to good in the film.
The visual effects were hit and miss, some (like the creature transformations) were impressive and seamless, but some (like the conflagrations) looked old-fashioned and garishly fake. Book fans may be disappointed by the major deviations from the original tale. Those who are unfamiliar with the book though will be entertained, but will definitely feel that the story being told by director Sergey Bodrov follows a tired and very familiar formula. 6/10.
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