Monday, August 10, 2015

Seventh Son

When I first heard about the film Seventh Son, I was very excited. Juilian Moore and Jeff Bridges together again in a fantasy epic? Fuck yeah. Warning: SPOILERS
Not this epic
Then the studio delays and limited release hinted that something had gone terribly wrong. So how bad is it? Perhaps the most telling problem with the movie is that the fact that the character of Tom is the Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, has absolutely NO bearing on the movie whatsoever.

The movie is apparently based on a series of books known as The Spook's Apprentice by Joseph Delaney. The books seem to have a number of different titles, not surprising given the issues around the word, 'spook'. I'm actually surprised that they use the word as often as they do in the film. That it is based on a book series actually makes more sense, as I would hazard a guess that the script-writer tried to jam as many ideas from different books together to make a single movie.
The exact opposite of this, yet somehow still not as shitty.
Parts of it work, and it does feature three of my favourite actors. As a devout Dudist, I'd happily watch Jeff Bridges paint his house and then there there is the beautiful and talented Julian Moore. There is also one of my favourite character actors, Djimon Hounsou in a supporting role. Any time one of them is on the screen, the movie perks up.
Always the best thing in a lot of bad movies. 
The best scenes in the movie takes place at the beginning of the movie when Bridge's character, Master Gregory get into a fight with a sword-welding soldier, armed with nothing but a mug of ale. This is followed by the only scene where we see what Gregory actually does for a living when he and his latest apprentice perform an excorcism and end up taking on Moore's character, Mother Malkin - Queen of the Witches. It doesn't go well and Gregory is has  to set out and find a new apprentice. Apparently, this kind of thing happens a lot.
Not so special now, huh?
Which all begs the question, if only the seventh son of a seventh son can become one of these witch-fighting 'spooks' (briefly referred to as an order of knights known as 'Falcons' and then never mentioned again) then HOW MANY KIDS ARE THESE PEOPLE HAVING? Gregory tells Tom that there used to be an ARMY of these guys! Apparently, seven kids is the absolute minimum allowed for the local peasants.
Its all beginning to make sense!
Now we meet Tom. In the most hackneyed, ripped off and rote introduction possible: Tom is a pig-boy. While I think he's suppose to be quite young, the actor looks old enough to have lots of little pig boys of his own. Gregory calls him scrawny, but he's at least twice the size of Greg's last apprentice. Tom likes to abandon the pigs and go hunting by throwing his knife at things. Think that will be important later? If you said yes, then congrats! You too can be a Hollywood screenwriter.
Does this look like a mother and son to you?
So Gregory goes to Tom and BUYS him from his parents. How did Gregory know that Tom was the Seventh Son of Seventh Son? Who the fuck knows.

My apologize for all the swearing, but if you're offended stop reading because it's only going to get a whole lot worse.

Just before he goes off with the strange man who bought him, Tom is told by his Mam that "all you ever need is inside you". And she also gives him her amulet. I like to call this trope, 'The magic hubcap'.
Fuck hubcaps!

The rest of the film unfolds as if each scene was written separately then stitched together into a loose narrative, but without any real concern for continuity. Characters literally pop in and out, apparently covering vast distances in seconds. Meanwhile, Greg and Tom and their faithful Ogre Tusk, are moved around to where ever the next scene needs them to be.

Mother Malkin has been locked away by Gregory in a cave for a hundred years. She frees herself on the eve of the Blood Moon, which is event that happens once in a hundred years and boosts the witch's powers. For someone who is quite long lived, Greg did not read the fine print on that imprison spell. She promptly returns home, to find it a ruin inhabited by ghosts and watched over by Bonny Lizzie who appears to be some sort of lich. Lizzie also happens to have a teenage daughter named Alice. Lets not dwell on the implications of that, shall we?
Image taken from
Daughter Alice is suppose to be Tom's love interest, though they meet because she is sent to spy on him. Luckily, he tells her pretty much everything, all the time, with no prompting whatsoever.

And witches are also dragons. Why? Who the fuck knows!
Trust me, it looks a lot shittier in craptastic CGI. 
Malkim cleans up her home and restores the Lich's beauty. She then summons the rest of her minions:  the king of assassins, a cool four-armed guy with swords; a leopard lady who's suppose to dangerous, but comes across pretty weak after being introduced immediately after the giant bear guy. And this guy?
Don't worry. He dies. 
Gregory takes Tom to his hide out, which is full of witch hunting gear. They have one week to stop Malkin before the Blood Moon, blah, blah, blah. Greg then flatly refuses to train Tom. Why? Who the fuck knows!

That night, Tom goes exploring and accidentally awakens a haunted suit of armour which attacks him and has to be stopped by Greg. Greg is furious at Tom for ignoring his order to stay in his room, and as a result he begins to train him. Wait, what?
Prepare the Montage!
After a solid night of training they set off on their quest, but first a couple of detours. In one random scene Tom and Greg are summoned to 'The Walled City' (naming is not this film's forte). The city's army has *fought and captured* a shape changing witch who turns into a giant bear. At the city's request, Greg *lets the witch out of the cage to fight him one on one*. The battle rages until Tom and Greg *chain up the witch* and then *dose him in oil that the city had already prepared* and light him on fire. At this point I realized that logic had no place in this film.
and that they take Bear Bating seriously in Walled City. 
The random monster scene where Tom and Greg fight the boggart is actually kinda neat, except for the fact that Tom goes over the waterfall holding a knife, and then comes out holding a sword that he never, ever uses again. Then Alice steals his amulet, because in case its not clear, Tom is a bit of a dumbass.
The GM swears that he rolled this on the Random Encounter table.
Meanwhile, in revenge for killing bear guy, all the witches fly to Walled City and proceed to tear it down. Radu, who just flew to the city, now rides through the front gates on a horse! Then the horse turns into a dragon! Why the fuck not?!
"Whoa, horsey!"
It must have been market day because Tom's Mam is in town, and !Surprise! she is a good witch. She stole the amulet from Malkim over a hundred years ago (which explains the seven + kids). She tries to defend the city, but Mother M is naturally pissed and kills her without much trouble.
When witches die, they get all sparkley
Once that's done, Radu and his army of faceless, supposedly deadly assassins have a hard time capturing an old man, an untrained boy and ogre dude. They do manage to capture Greg, but make the classic mistake of assuming that Tom and Tusk and Greg's magic staff all have died after they fall off the second giant cliff in the movie in less than half an hour.
These guys violate almost all of the Peter's Evil Overlord rules concerning minions. 
Tom's Mam now comes to him in a dream to tell him that she died because, story wise, there is no other way for him to learn that she kicked the bucket and for him to learn that she was a witch. All in all, he takes it pretty well. She also tells him to forget that bullshit she said about the power being inside him all along. The power is really in the amulet.
Yay for hubcaps!
Then it all comes down to the big fight to the finish. Will evil reign? Will Gregory let go of his hatred of all witches? Will Tom suddenly develop the ability to weld a staff like he's done it all his life? Will he kill a butt-load of witches? Think the knife trick comes back into play? What does the amulet actual do? No fucking clue.

The best thing is that movie actually looks pretty good. It is CGI'd to fuck and back, but there are only few times when it crosses the uncanny valley.
Just gonna leave this here. 
The worst thing about the movie is the unsettling misogynistic tone that never gets properly resolved. Never mind the whole idea of a woman becoming more powerful during a 'blood moon. In the film, the Spooks are all 'sons' while the Witches are predominately made up of, and ruled by women. We are suppose to idenify with Tim, so its the Spooks that we are suppose to root for. Now the film does take a stab at addressing this, hinting that in his own way Gregory is just as nuts as Mother Malkin, but Gregory saves little girls while Malkin kills people for looking at her funny and burns a city to the ground. Tom expresses some doubts about what they are doing at first, and even falls in love with a witch, but by the end of the movie he's happily slaughtering them all like a dentist in a petting zoo. Then the film takes away Mother Malkin's agency because the reason she's evil is not because she's power mad, or upset that all her witches have been slaughtered. Nope, turns out that she turned evil just because she was rejected by a man. Fucking really?
Here she is REALLY pissed about him leaving the toilet seat up.

The film has few nods to D&D in it already (Gregory even refers to a Ghast as a 'Level 6 monster') and there are lots of magic potions, amulets and staffs, but nothing in the film is ever clearly explained. Its worth watching for some ideas, but if I wanted to integrate any of this stuff into a game and were looking for specifics you'd be better off reading the books.
Ogre Scrotum: For personal use only.

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