Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Seventh Son

Time-lapse photography, a bombastic soundtrack, and a swirling 3D camera partial to taking aerial shots of mountaintops and whooshing down into underground prisons are just some of the tools Seventh Son employs to grab audiences—and that's just in the first one or two minutes. In one scene, smoke appears as if it might spill right into the movie theater, but director Sergei Bodrov mostly uses the 3D format as a way of heightening the effect of scary things flying rapidly across the screen. And if you've seen one witch transform herself into a dragon and swoop toward the camera, you've seen them all, so by the third or fourth time you may find yourself thinking how much more lifelike Peter Jackson's Smaug felt, or how much scarier that flying-cloud-of-smoke effect was when it depicted Dementors in the Harry Potter films.

The unintended side effects of the 3D, like occasionally blurring or its tendency to make people look almost doll-like when seen from above, also draw too much attention to themselves, making it that much harder to surrender to the film’s predictable pastiche of fantasy tropes. Those start with Gregory (Jeff Bridges), a grizzled old hunter of witches and other scary supernatural beings who’s preparing for a showdown with Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore), the ice-queen witch who was one (spoiler alert?) his true love. Gregory recruits the blandly handsome Tom (Ben Barnes) as his apprentice and the two prepare for the final showdown, first with the requisite crash course for Tom in the martial and magical arts and then with a series of battles with an exhaustingly inexhaustible supply of CGI-augmented villains.

Read the rest in Slant Magazine

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