Let us hope they don’t make an Eighth Son

Thirty or forty years ago, Seventh Son would have starred Ray Harryhausen’s stop motion monsters. It’s that type of fantasy. Four armed men, color coded dragons, oversized orgres; Harryhausen would have given them exquisite life.

Now, each of them is computer generated. Loosely realistic, glossy, and expensive if completely devoid of excitement or awe. Jeff Bridges and Ben Barnes – slashing their swords into digital flesh – barely seem startled.

One computerized encounter to the next; Seventh Son falls into such a pattern once beyond expository training montages. Teenager Tom Ward (Barnes) learns alongside the elder, the always mumbling Gregory (Bridges). They fight witches and dragons, then Seventh Son closes with a whimper. Interject scenes of Eragon or other failed fantasy franchises and no one would notice.

A touch puerile and ever so mildly charming (at points), Seventh Son is loosed with uninteresting fiction. This is predictable, yes, but irritatingly same-y too. Julianne Moore soaks up her role as a sadistic witch until Seventh Son begins dropping everyone onto a platter of questionably pre-designated roles. Women evil, men good. How tiresome.

Adapted from the Spook’s Apprentice book series, the name change was meant to dodge the potentially racist barb in the title, while the content itself remains locked to a series of racially divisive imagery. Kandyse McClure draped in jungle garb is so flagrant as to rise above offense. It’s comically out of touch.

Peter Jackson just gave audiences ten excessive hours of this and of higher quality.

Seventh Son is loud. The goal – if it has any – is to distract. Action scenes are booming, edited with such rapidity as to barely grasp the sense of space. Certainly, the prevailing lack of substance is of no help. Seventh Son, in cinematic form anyway, is constructed on top of popularized fantasy, using others as its base. Sword fights, arrow slinging, trolls, dragons; Peter Jackson just gave audiences ten excessive hours of this and of higher quality.

It is unfair to pick on a film for simply existing. Admittedly, The Hobbit was not aimed at the teenage demographic of Hunger Games or its sci-fi/apocalyptic copycats. But as much as young (or young-looking) actors are being shoveled like cattle into these demographically prime movies, at least they glance current issues. Those films have light, energetically spoken purpose – significance and relevancy even. Seventh Son is stretching backwards. Empty, aimless, but attractively extravagant to sell spectacle. Game of Thrones, writ small for teens, with a handful of misplaced Oscar winners in the cast. That’s Seventh Son. [xrr rating=2/5 label=Movie]

Sadly, his Gandalf cosplay would win third place @ 55;59

Torrents of blue and orange mark Seventh Son’s visual existence, always excessive and certainly uninteresting. The few breaths of green brought on by the number of forest scenes are a short-lived reprieve. Two tone color dominates Seventh Son’s (very) digital color work.

Seventh Son cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel cannot save the feature either. Lens work is caught in an ugly haze which never recedes. If Seventh Son is aiming to be dreamlike, forget it. Such an effect does not appear to be in-camera, rather added in post and causing a multitude of distracting, shimmering lights. Skin glows and swords bloom. The persistence of this effect is remarkable.

To some credit, the lighting effects do not wash out fidelity – mostly. Close-ups are wonderfully resolved. Textural qualities to castle walls are excellent, and the same with armor. All of the CG monsters are handled with care too. They’re rightfully ugly.

Pulling some of this disc together are dominating black levels, always pushing far without losing shadow details. Contrast is perky, using natural sunlight regularly. Universal’s encode? This is spot on as well when processing this sometimes unattractive source. [xrr rating=3/5 label=Video]

Active and even intense, Seventh Son’s wide soundfield is reason enough to purchase the disc for home theater aficionados, rather awful movie or not. Spacing is superlative across all seven channels, offering exquisite tracking between speakers as flying creatures take off. Transitions are incredible in their smoothness, and this is not limited to action. Opening scenes capture bells ringing in four different directions, shifting places as the crane shot pans downward. Marketplaces feature crowds of people, forests are almost to a point of being overactive, and rushing water is splendid.

Of course, Seventh Son is all fights, from roaring bears to oversized lizards. A touch of Godzilla-esque city stomping is included for fun in the LFE and as the clashes increase in scale for the finale, there are plenty of instances to take note of. Rumbles are sufficiently powerful. [xrr rating=5/5 label=Audio]

Fifteen deleted/extended scenes (with an additional alternate ending elsewhere on the disc) open Universal’s bonus slate, followed by three making of sections focusing on the heroes, the monsters, then the world, 30-minutes in total and without a play-all option. Legend and Lore is a simple primer for the film’s fantasy, pointless if you have seen the film. A visual effects gallery looks at four different scenes. [xrr rating=3/5 label=Extras]


Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.

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