Action Adaptation

'Seventh Son' Blu-ray Review: Forgettable fantasy-adventure fails to conjure up a franchise

May 26, 2015Ben MK

"You live in a world now where legend and nightmare are real!"

Feature Rating:  

Adapted from author Joseph Delaney's "The Spook's Apprentice," the first entry in the dark-fantasy series known collectively as "The Wardstone Chronicles," Seventh Son has Jeff Bridges playing the original story's titular spook: Master Gregory, a Falcon Knight and the people's first and last line of defense against the evil magic of witches. Years ago, Gregory defeated Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore), the most powerful witch of them all. But instead of slaying her, he spared her life, entombing her for all eternity in an iron dungeon (or so he thought). Now, with the blood moon on the rise, Malkin's powers have returned, and she has escaped to wreak havoc on the lands once again.

When she claims the life of his faithful apprentice (Game of Thrones' Kit Harington), Gregory goes in search of his last best hope for a successor — the only remaining seventh son of a seventh son, a simple farmhand named Tom Ward (Ben Barnes). Together, they embark on a journey towards Malkin's mountaintop fortress, where Gregory hopes to vanquish the witch queen once and for all. Before they can do so, however, they'll have to contend with a menagerie of monsters and demons, including shape-shifting witches capable of transforming themselves into fearsome dragons, fierce cheetahs and vicious bears. Their mission is further complicated when Tom falls for a half-witch named Alice (Alicia Vikander), who also happens to be Malkin's niece, and their relationship puts his allegiance to Gregory to the test.

Seventh Son makes no bones about drawing its inspiration from the heroic journeys that have come before it, such as the Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings series. Yet, for the most part, director Sergei Bodrov (Mongol: The Rise of Genghis Khan) and screenwriters Charles Leavitt (Blood Diamond) and Steven Knight (Locke) do little to distinguish their pic from its big screen brethren, serving up creatures, locales and character archetypes moviegoers have already seen time and time again.

Of course, the movie isn't without its highlights. But not even Bridges' wise-cracking, squinty-eyed portrayal of the pointy-bearded Gregory nor Moore's deliciously campy turn as the main villain can overcome its more middling qualities: most notably the fact that Barnes fails to make much of an impression as the titular character, and that the solid supporting cast (which includes the likes of Djimon Hounsou, Olivia Williams and Antje Traue) is for the most part wasted. Then there's the matter of the film's average-looking CGI, its uninspired battle sequences and at times clich├ęd dialogue, all of which do little to bolster its cause to be the next big fantasy-adventure franchise. Not that Seventh Son is a particularly terrible film. It's just terribly forgettable.

Audio/Visual Rating:  

Seventh Son may not make an impression as anything more than a middle-of-the-road fantasy-adventure, but the same can't be said of its Blu-ray technical presentation, which outclasses even the genre's best. Viewers will be impressed by the clarity of this hi-def image, which brings out the meticulous details of the film's medieval-influenced production design, from the rough-hewn fabrics to the battle-ready armor and the plethora of craggy, mountainous environments. Not only that: colors, such as the red of the blood moon, are richly saturated; blacks and contrast levels are robust, but not at the expense of shadow detail; and there's not a single image defect in sight. Audio-wise, the movie's DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 soundtrack is full-bodied and able, providing ample low-end support to help create an enveloping aural landscape, populated with tolling bells, thunderous rainstorms, rattling chains, demonic screams and feral growls.

Extras Rating:  

Universal's two-disc Blu-ray combo pack release includes a DVD and an iTunes/UltraViolet digital copy of the movie, plus the following Blu-ray extras:

  • Alternate Ending (1:16)
  • Deleted/Alternate Scenes (26:41) - A collection of fifteen deleted and alternate scenes: "Prison Escape," "Grave Robbers Release Malkin," "Tavern with Tusk," "Original Old Greg Intro," "Outside Church - Alternate," "A Toast to William Bradley," "Dinner Scene - Alternate," "Woods Walk - Without Church," "Woods Walk - Without Tom Fainting," "Lakeside Sword Training," "Radu Hits on Malkin," "Graveyard Monologue - Alternate," "Inquisitor Death - Alternate," "Hangman Hill - Alternate," and "Malkin Pyre/Mountain Explosion - Alternate."
  • The Making of Seventh Son (25:03) - A series of three featurettes (Defenders of Good, Resurrecting the Wicked and Forging a Medieval Realm) profiling the film's heroes and villains, along with their costumes and weapons, the fight choreography, make-up, set design and props.
  • The Legend and Lore of the Seventh Son (3:33) - A brief, animated exploration of the legend of the seventh son in Ireland, South America, the United States and France, as well as the significance of the number seven in Christianity, and its importance to the ancient Greeks, Hebrews and Egyptians.
  • Visual Effects Gallery (3:29) - Brief VFX breakdowns of four scenes: Bradley's Demise, Pendle Battle, Boggart Chase and Boldmere Fight.

Seventh Son is available from Universal Studios Home Entertainment as of May 26th, 2015. The Blu-ray features DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 and DVS Dolby Digital 2.0 English audio, as well as Spanish and French DTS Digital Surround 5.1 tracks. Subtitles are presented in English SDH, Spanish and French. The film's runtime is 1 Hr. 42 Mins.

* Reviewer's note: Portions of this Blu-ray review were adapted from my original review of the theatrical release, published on February 6th, 2015.

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