SEVENTH SON REVIEW

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Not as you bad as you think. Or just as bad depending on your outlook.

Okay, it’s not great. BUT . . .

It killed the time, zipped along, didn’t mess about and knew exactly what it was. A big, dumb, action packed supernatural blockbuster.

Seventh Son is very much in the same vein as Van Helsing and Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. Ridiculously stupid but entertaining at least.

So what’s this one about? Young Thomas (Ben Barnes) is apprenticed to the local Spook (Jeff Bridges) to learn to fight evil spirits. His first great challenge comes when the powerful Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore) escapes her confinement while the Spook is away.

From the OTT opening music score, I instantly thought of the classic monster movies.

Not long before you’ve sat down in your seats, you’re soon jumping out of them as an imprisoned dragon breaks free to unleash mayhem.

Smaug got nothing on this one. However, the dragon soon transforms into a vamped up femme fatale. In the form of Julianne Moore.

Moore went completely against type and proved she can play the seductive vamp role well. (What?)

She camped it up and stole every scene. You could tell she was having fun.

BUT Jeff Bridges? Face palm. What on Earth is he playing at?

The reunion of The Dude and Maude Lebowski may have excited the movie nerd in me BUT it’s just a shame that Bridge’s character was so terrible.

He just about pulled off the no-nonsense embittered mentor with a terrible accent in RIPD. But he should have known not to pull the same trick twice.

I had no idea what accent he was trying to do. It was hysterical for all the wrong reasons. Half the time, I couldn’t understand him. The other half I couldn’t care.

Ben Barnes (The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian) was quite a charismatic lead. Even if his character was a little bland.

Luckily the chemistry he had with Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina) sparked a bit more life into him.

There wasn’t enough of Vikander. And no! Not because I have a little crush on her. I felt that with Barnes, they made a good couple. Barnes and Bridges, on the other hand? No.

She was feisty and not too shabby to look at either 😉

The special effects were actually pretty good. Unfortunately, I saw the 2D version. A decision I instantly regretted. You could pick out several moments that would have been great to see in 3D.

The plot was pretty naff and full of plot holes. I could jot down the amount of questions; Why the seventh of the seventh son? What was the purpose of John DeSantis’ (The 13th Warrior) Tusk? Why did he have tusks? Why was he indebted to the Spook? How did he keep popping up when the Spook hadn’t told him where they were?

Little niggles, you know.

I wasn’t bored and certainly couldn’t knock Seventh Son for pace. It zipped along, and if I’m honest, a little too rapidly. The story was always going to the same old predictable guff. Young man sent on a quest and enduring love, loss and blah, blah, blah but they could have allowed a little more time on certain characters.

Most notably, Olivia Williams’ Mam Ward. Her forced mother/son relationship could have been a little more meaningful and interesting if they had allowed a revelation to develop. BUT instead, they focus on the monsters and the fight sequences.

Don’t get me wrong. Fun and violent they may be. It doesn’t help when you don’t really care about the characters. Mam Ward reveals something about her character halfway through the film that could have added something BUT instead she is pushed further into the background until she is no more.

A missed opportunity.

Kit Harrington. That’s right. Jon Snow. Had the easiest cameo going. I couldn’t believe he was in this. They must have grabbed him while filming Game of Thrones. His role was nothing more than a plot device to show how relentless Mother Malkin is.

Djimon Hounsou is reduced to nothing more than another angry servant. Pretty much the same character from Guardians of the Galaxy. Just an irate troll this time.

Also, why was everyone speaking with American accents? Especially when the majority of the cast were English or Dutch? But that’s just a continuity quip. Another niggle, that’s all.

It was hammy and OTT but gained points for fun.

It had the odd chuckle, zipped along and kept me quiet. However, a lot more points were lost for consistency, plot holes and direction.

The ending wrapped up far too quickly and was surprisingly open. With a faint hint of another?

I would be intrigued and if (A BIG IF) the gang were to return, they would need a lot of work. I enjoyed Van Helsing a lot more and we never got a sequel for that. So, don’t hold up your hopes.

This is definitely a teen fantasy epic if ever there was one. BUT we have had far too many. And even though they were flawed messes, they were still a little more memorable than this, I’m afraid.

BUT give it a go if you want a big silly creature feature to kill 90 minutes. BUT Jeff Bridges, come on man. You’re the Dude! Sort it out.

2.5/5

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Inside Llewyn Davis Review

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Inside Llewyn Davis (that sounds incredibly rude! Pack it up. Come on, we’re better than that). Well . . . a mixed bag of sorts. Great cast, great performances, good songs but a somewhat slackening pace and a journey that gets incredibly bleak and downbeat with a somewhat flat ending. Not the Coens worst, but certainly not their best.

Looking back at the Coen Brothers’ filmography, I can’t help but feel how their films come off as marmite to me. At their best, we have the Big Lebowski, Fargo, Raising Arizona, Blood Simple, No Country for Old Men (after numerous viewings for a dissertation on contemporary noir, it went from meh to brilliant). At their worst, Burn After Reading and the shambolic Ealing classic remake the Ladykillers. Inside Llewyn Davis is somewhat in the middle of these two categories. The cast cannot be faltered. The pair have found a leading man in Oscar Isaac as Llewyn. To be honest, I hadn’t heard of the chap. I had to IMDb him. Turns out, he played supporting roles in Robin Hood, Sucker Punch and Drive. Well, I’ll keep tabs on him now and expect to see him in more movies after this performance. He provided much depth and brought a likeable if conflicted and flawed protagonist to life.

The things that irritates and always surrounds the Coens films is the needless hype. After the uproar at their omission from most of the “important” categories of the Oscars, I expected much more from this. I believe Isaac should have got a nod for Best Actor. His singing was fantastic as well. We follow struggling folk singer Llewyn Davis as he battles the wintery conditions of the Greenwich village scene as he tries to get his music out there, despite having no money, no home and no coat. The Coens provide their usual checklist light hearted humour and the first hour blazes along quite nicely, with the aid of a great cast of supporting characters, including the likes of the erratic Carey Mulligan and Justin Timberlake. Hardly need to say much about JT’s singing, after all, it is his profession (He nails it). I was surprised at how good Mulligan was. You could argue that their characters don’t have enough screen time but when they do, they all excel. The humourous episode with Llewyn being stuck with a ginger cat and the numerous attempts to capture it were a nice aside. The songs are memorable and sung well. It turns out most of the folk songs were sung live. If any were mimed, then either the sound editing and dubbing was executed perfectly or Mr Timberlake may too good a mime artist, but I digress. It does help to enjoy or be fan of folk music. Fare Thee Well, Hang Me, Oh Hang Me and the annoyingly catchy Please Mr Kennedy were the stand out ones for me. Please Mr Kennedy may have been a deliberate jab at the stupidity of jingles and catchy songs just to get a hit but it is a good song in itself.

The film is hardly original in it’s telling of one man’s journey trying to get a break. If anything the Coens truly demonstrate perfectly a protagonist’s stage of nadir (the bottom of the barrel) with the road trip from hell. The movie turns and gets incredibly dark and painfully bleak (to be expected from the Coens) with the sinister scene stealing supporting turn of a Coens regular, the legend that is John Goodman as cane-tapping Roland Turner. He growls and grumbles along, milking every minute. (Unfortunately, the poor bloke has put the pounds back on. Some might be saying, did he even lose weight?). We drudge along through this bleak journey as you hope Llewyn get’s that break. He’s not completely painted as the victim. Was he a victim of the times? Or was he afraid to actually get success? Was the rut that he had been put in due to pure bad luck? Or was it down to his own accord? You feel for Llewyn when he has no coat, seeks anybody who can spot a spare couch and tries to warm his icy soaked feet under the cafe table but at the same time, you get angry for him when he gets work that is not to his ideals, he snubs it. He snaps at the only people who are helping him.

However, the end result leaves you somewhat slighted. The journey goes full circle and without spoiling too much, ends unexpectedly and very flat. If anything it was quite disappointing, especially when you’re rooting for this underdog. All in all, not a complete failure. The songs are still stuck in my head, the performances are brilliant and there are more pros than cons but in context of the Oscar categories and best film of the year? Not so much. Another hype bites the dust? Coens do folk, I guess. Get back on the crime movies, guys! 3/5

Currently ranks #54 out of 130