Seventh Son (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Sergei Bodrov|
The Spook's Apprentice|
by Joseph Delaney
|Music by||Marco Beltrami|
|Cinematography||Newton Thomas Sigel|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Box office||$114.2 million|
Seventh Son is a 2014 American 3D epic fantasy action-adventure film directed by Sergei Bodrov and starring Ben Barnes, Jeff Bridges, Alicia Vikander, and Julianne Moore. It is loosely based on the novel The Spook's Apprentice (titled The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch in the US) by Joseph Delaney. The story centers on Thomas Ward, a seventh son of a seventh son, and his adventures as the apprentice of the Spook. After having its release date shifted numerous times, the film was released in France on December 17, 2014, and in Canada and the United States on February 6, 2015, by Universal Pictures. Seventh Son received generally negative reviews from film critics and it earned $114 million on a $95 million budget.
In a prologue, the witch Mother Malkin is imprisoned in an underground chamber by Gregory, the last of a knightly order known as the Falcons, who have long defended mankind against supernatural threats. Several decades later, Gregory now works as a "Spook," a roving witch hunter.
The rise of the centennial blood moon allows Malkin to regain much of her power and break free from her prison. In a confrontation with the aged Gregory, she kills his apprentice, William Bradley, before escaping. Malkin returns to her dilapidated mountain fortress, restoring it, and her sister, Bony Lizzie, to their former condition.
Gregory then seeks out Tom Ward, the seventh son of a seventh son, on a local farmstead, and recruits him as his newest apprentice. Before Tom leaves, his mother gives him her pendant as a talisman. On their way to Gregory's home, Tom sees a girl about to be burned by a mob as a witch. Recognizing her from clairvoyant visions he has had, he takes her from the mob and releases her. The girl, Alice, warns him not to let Gregory know about her. Alice is revealed to be Lizzie's daughter, who spies on Gregory for her. Malkin begins gathering her army to conquer mankind.
Tom meets Gregory's assistant Tusk, and rushes to learn what he needs to become a Spook before he and Gregory leave to confront Malkin at her fortress. Gregory warns that they only have a week before the blood moon is full, after which Malkin will become too powerful for them. En route to the fortress, Gregory is summoned to a walled city by an Inquisitor whose forces have subdued one of Malkin's followers, a werebear named Urag. Gregory instructs Tom to burn the warlock alive, but Tom hesitates, causing Gregory to dismiss him while burning Urag himself. Tom meets Alice again and the two share their feelings for each other and fall in love. Later, they briefly consider going off on their own. But Tom has a vision of Malkin killing Gregory and unleashing destruction upon the world. Tom rejoins Gregory, who reveals that he once loved Malkin, and that is why he could not kill her, even after she murdered Gregory's own wife. Gregory feels responsible for every person killed by Malkin since then, and warns Tom that Alice must be killed, like all witches.
Gregory, Tom, and Tusk are attacked on the road by an enormous boggart, and Tom narrowly manages to kill it and survive being swept down a waterfall. Tom is then confronted by Bony Lizzie, who attacks but is repelled by the necklace around his neck. John Gregory recognizes it as the Umbran Stone, which increases the power of witches. It originally belonged to Malkin, but one of her witch followers, Tom's mother, stole it from her, weakening her enough for Gregory to trap her.
Malkin instructs Alice to steal the stone from Tom, promising to spare his life if she does because she loves him. Malkin and her minions then raze the aforementioned walled city to the ground to avenge the death of Urag. Tom's family happens to be in the city, and his mother sends her husband and daughter to safety, before managing to kill Strix the warlock and confronting Malkin with her own powers. Malkin kills her, mocking her for giving away the stone that would have saved her life.
Out in the country, Alice reappears before Tom and pleads with him to leave with her, as he had suggested in their earlier meeting. Gregory tries to kill her, but Tom, blinded by love, stops him, proclaiming "She's not the enemy!". He lets her flee, but Gregory points out she has taken the Umbran stone from around Tom's neck, replying, "Now tell me she's innocent!". Tom realizes her reappearance had been a ruse, and pursues her, with Gregory and Tusk following. Then Malkin's servant Radu attacks them, capturing Gregory and driving Tusk and Tom over a cliff, wrongly believing them dead. Tom has a vision of his mother, telling him that as both the seventh son of a seventh son, and the son of a witch, he is unique and has the power to defeat Malkin.
The witches gather as Malkin attempts to seduce Gregory with her magic. Alice is horrified to hear that Tom was left for dead. In remorse, she grabs the stone from Malkin, breaking Malkin's hold on Gregory. As Malkin transforms into a dragon to kill Alice, Lizzie also transforms, to protect her daughter. Tom retrieves the stone and, fighting together, Gregory, Tom and Alice kill several of Malkin's minions. Malkin defeats and kills Lizzie for her disloyalty, but is seriously wounded in turn. Gregory confronts Malkin in her room, alone. She appears close to death, bitterly recalling her and Gregory's relationship, but then she seizes him with her claws. Tom arrives and hurls a blade at Malkin, freeing Gregory, who retreats. Tom finishes her off by burning her body.
Afterwards, Gregory acknowledges Tom's training is complete and brands his hand as a new Falcon knight. Alice appears, but accepts that Tom's commitment to his new vocation means they cannot be together at the present. She promises Tom that they'll meet again, before disappearing. Gregory departs for an unknown destination, leaving Tom with Tusk as the town bells ring, calling for the new Spook's services.
- Jeff Bridges as John Gregory, the Spook
- Julianne Moore as Mother Malkin
- Ben Barnes as Tom Ward
- Alicia Vikander as Alice Deane
- Kit Harington as Billy Bradley
- Olivia Williams as Mam Ward
- Antje Traue as Bony Lizzie
- Kandyse McClure as Sarikin
- Djimon Hounsou as Radu, an original character not found in Delaney's novel
- Jason Scott Lee as Urag
- John DeSantis as Tusk
Production began on March 19, 2012, in Vancouver, British Columbia. In February 2013, Legendary Pictures agreed to give $5 million to recently bankrupt visual effects house Rhythm and Hues Studios so they would complete their work on Seventh Son.
It was originally announced that A. R. Rahman and Tuomas Kantelinen would compose the score for the movie. However, in July 2013, Rahman left the project due to scheduling conflicts. A. R. Rahman revealed that he backed out from the project to compose for Kaaviya Thalaivan, a Tamil historical fiction film, because it gave him the scope to innovate with folk music like never before. Subsequently, in December 2013, Kantelinen was replaced by Marco Beltrami.
The film was originally scheduled for release on February 15, 2013, but was moved back to October 18, 2013, to complete post-production. It was moved again to January 17, 2014, due to the film's production partner Legendary Pictures parting ways with Warner Bros., who were initially intended to distribute the film. On August 15, 2013, it was announced that Legendary has sold the distribution rights to their new partner Universal Studios, which pulled the film again. On November 27, 2013, It was announced that the film was pushed back to February 6, 2015. The film premiered in France on December 17, 2014.
Seventh Son grossed $17.2 million in North America and $93.4 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $110.6 million.
The film featured in the list of "The Riskiest Box Office Bets of 2015" published by screenrant.com. The film posted a gross of $295,000 from the Thursday preview. The film earned an opening day gross of estimated $2,300,000, an estimated $3,000,000 for its second day and $1,801,000 for its third day. The film was a box office bomb, according to Variety the film has a "projected loss of $85 million", earning only $7,101,000 weekend gross, by playing in 2,875 theaters, with a $2,470 per-theater average and ranking #4.
The film opened in France and Lebanon on December 21, 2014, a month and a half ahead of its North America release, and earned $1.2 million. The following weekend the film added $18.4 million from 24 new markets where it debuted at #1 in Russia, Romania, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. Russia opened with $8.6 million while Spain generated $1.2 million.
On Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, the film has an approval rating of 12% based on 113 reviews and an average rating of 3.8/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Seventh Son squanders an excellent cast and some strange storyline ingredients, leaving audiences with one disappointingly dull fantasy adventure." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 30 out of 100 based 32 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B-" on an A+ to F scale.
Peter Debruge of Variety gave a negative review criticizing the film's tired plot, special effects, lack of chemistry, and of the cast's performances such as that of Bridges' and Moore's, and calling the film an "over-designed" and "under-conceived fantasy epic". The Hollywood Reporter's Jordan Mintzer writes that it "takes an A-list crew and cast—including Moore sporting a black feather dress and matching eyeliner—and goes nowhere new with it, investing lots in VFX and locations but not enough in an original story anyone cares about". Los Angeles Times' Betsey Sharkey said that the movie would "certainly be a contender" for "the worst movie of the year," she notes, "For acclaimed Russian director Bodrov, this foray into English-language filmmaking is a rare fail. Bodrov certainly knows his way around epics, as his excellent Oscar-nominated films Mongol and Prisoner of the Mountains attest. Seventh comes as a shock. Virtually every performance falls flat, aided no doubt by the vapid dialogue. And Bridges is saddled with an awful accent he never masters." USA Today's Claudia Puig says, "The 3-D effects are off-putting: Smoke spills out at the audience, and the camera swooshes high and careens over cliffs. It's more dizzying than dazzling. Further mucking up the attempts at magical fantasy is a distracting, bombastic musical score and feeble attempts at humor. Seventh Son is thoroughly ill-conceived, a pale imitation of its more adventurous and breathtaking brethren." The Guardian's Jordan Hoffman gave the movie two out of five stars and explained, "While Seventh Son has trace of Saturday afternoon fun, its unoriginal nature gets the better of it... There are flashes where you think Seventh Son is going to be wise enough to put a spin on the standard script, but by the end it just devolves into another loud, messy CGI brawl. How much more ruined masonry can moviegoers take? A lot, it seems, as this genre seems to be in no danger of going away."
The New York Daily News' Joe Neumaier was more complimentary of Moore's and Bridges' leading performances. "Saints be praised for whatever strange magic brought Bridges and Moore together for their own little mini–Big Lebowski reunion, whether it was playfulness, paychecks or an open spot on their calendars. Because they save this mediocre medieval fantasy adventure from the ash heap."
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