Looked good on the drawing board; looks terrible up on the screen.
When a movie is supposed to be released in February, you worry a bit about the quality. The best movies don’t usually come out in the dumping grounds of January and February. When a movie is supposed to come out in February of 2013, but is finally released in February of 2015, that’s a big worry. The best movies usually don’t sit on the shelf for two years. But anyone seeing the trailer or the story of Seventh Son isn’t expecting much more than some tight world building, clever and maybe funny dialog, and some cool special effects set pieces. On those counts, how does Seventh Son deliver?
Ben Barnes stars as the titular seventh son, your typical hero’s journey kind of character. He’s a farmer boy, and leaves to become the apprentice of Jeff Bridges, who plays a Spook, a man tasked with tending to the dark forces of the world. Unfortunately, he’s the last of his kind as the other Spooks have all been killed by Julianne Moore’s powerful and evil witch and her followers. There’s a powerful MacGuffin that can’t fall into the wrong hands, secret backgrounds to characters, dangerous love, and all the stuff you’d normally find in a world like this. Then it’s all thrown on the screen in a rushed and ugly jumble, and I don’t have to read the book (The Spook’s Apprentice by Joseph Delaney) to know that it was better.
This movie has been post converted into 3-D, and is without question, the absolute worst job ever done of this. The movie is nearly impossible to watch. Anything other than closeups is blurry, action scenes are a jumbled mess, and main characters walk through scenes like they belong on a Kellogg’s 3-D baseball card from the ’70s. The CG effects look comical when they do 3-D jump scares or have dragons open their mouth and fly toward the screen.
All of this poorly rendered 3-D ruins what might otherwise be a very good looking movie. The character concepts and fantasy worlds are very well done. Witches turning into dragons and fighting each other is very cool. A man who turns into a giant bear? Excellent. A ghost knight fighting Jeff Bridges? I’m in! When this was all on storyboards, I’m sure it was going to look fantastic, and there were moments when the post-converted 3-D took a breather, and I appreciated them.
It also seems likely to me that there was once a much longer version of this movie. The main story takes up about 90 minutes, and this is simply not enough time to cover everything that needs covering here. Storylines and character relationships develop way too fast, as if scenes were cut that would have given us more backstory. Jokes that were close to paying off needed more character beats to make them worthwhile. The writers on this movie, Steven Knight and Charles Leavitt, have both done a lot better.
Seventh Son is a good idea done very poorly. I really wanted to like it. I was hoping it would at least be a fun cheesy fantasy movie, but instead it’s a rushed, blurry mess. Everyone involved has done better and will do better again. They should all agree to just leave this off of their resumes.
Seventh Son opens in theaters today, February 6th, and for the love of God, avoid the 3-D presentation at all costs.