SEVENTH SON: Starring Ben Barnes, Julianne Moore, Jeff Bridges, Alicias Vikander. Directed by Sergei Bodrov. Rated M (Fantasy themes, violence and infrequent coarse language). 102 minutes
By John McCarthy
A THROWBACK to Saturday matinee serials and mid-20th-century action-adventure films, “Seventh Son” aims to captivate moviegoers with an accessible tale leavened by fantasy and anchored by imperfect heroes who battle the forces of evil.
Based on “The Last Apprentice”, Joseph Delaney’s series of young-adult novels, it combines elements from folk legend, martial-arts flicks, romances and supernatural thrillers.
It resembles a milder cousin of the HBO series “Game of Thrones”, minus the Byzantine plot saturated in politics and perversity.
It might also function as a light repast for viewers lamenting the end of the “Harry Potter” and “Lord of the Ring” franchises.
While not in the same league as those movies, “Seventh Son” does have an old-fashioned air of derring-do and chivalry.
And it features quality 3-D visuals and stirring, 21st-century special effects that further the story and showcase the natural beauty of the British Columbia scenery.
Russian director Sergei Bodrov is adept at orchestrating thrilling sequences in which live and computer-generated action neatly mesh.
The battle scenes are easy to follow and executed with restraint.
Jeff Bridges plays Master Gregory, the sole remaining member of the Falcon Knights, an order of men – each the seventh son of the seventh son – dedicated to stamping out a demonic cadre of supernatural assassins led by Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore).
At the outset, Gregory is seen imprisoning Malkin in a remote cavern.
Eventually she escapes thanks to a lunar phenomenon called the Blood Moon.
Returning to the mountaintop aerie from which she commands witches, warlocks, monsters and other creatures of the dark, she plans her revenge.
When she kills Gregory’s apprentice Bradley (Kit Harrington), he must find another protege, also a seventh son of a seventh son.
In short order he locates Tom Ward (Ben Barnes) tending pigs on his family’s farm. Possessing special powers and guided by visions, young Tom is destined to learn from Gregory and vanquish Malkin and her minions.
Malkin sends her niece Alice (Alicia Vikander) to spy on Tom and they fall in love.
Secrets are revealed, including one about Tom’s mother (Olivia Williams), and after some internecine intrigue and several violent clashes, the stage is set for a sequel.
While too scary for children, the material is not morally objectionable.
John McCarthy is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.