A foray into the challenging genre of fantasy can be a daunting task at the best of times even with the most favorable of box office forecasts. What’s a studio to do? First, stack the deck with Jeff Bridges — as a wizard no less! Gandalf better watch out! — Julianne Moore, and Ben Barnes, sweeten the deal with Kit Harington from HBO’s super mega hit Game of Thrones, and add some killer VFX and the odds just might tip in the studio’s favor. Or it might not. So how can a studio conquer the fickle fantasy gauntlet? Let’s break it down.
Here’s Seventh Son at a glance:
Director: Sergei Bodrov
Screenwriters: Matt Greenberg, Charles Leavitt, Aaron Guzikowski
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Julianne Moore, Ben Barnes, Djimon Hounsou, Kit Harington, Alicia Vikander, Antje Traue, Olivia Williams
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
The original release date for Seventh Son was originally set for October but was moved to January. A switch in dates can mean many things, but the first thing that comes to this writer’s mind is “uh-oh”.
Here’s the official synopsis: In a time long past, an evil is about to be unleashed that will reignite the war between the forces of the supernatural and humankind once more. Master Gregory (Jeff Bridges) is a knight who had imprisoned the malevolently powerful witch, Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore), centuries ago. But now she has escaped and is seeking vengeance. Summoning her followers of every incarnation, Mother Malkin is preparing to unleash her terrible wrath on an unsuspecting world. Only one thing stands in her way: Master Gregory. In a deadly reunion, Gregory comes face to face with the evil he always feared would someday return. He has only until the next full moon to do what usually takes years: train his new apprentice, Tom Ward (Ben Barnes) to fight a dark magic unlike any other. Man’s only hope lies in the seventh son of a seventh son.
The film Seventh Son is based on a fantasy novel from 1987 written by Orson Scott Card. In 1988 the book was nominated for the prestigious Hugo Award and World Fantasy Award. It won a Locus Award, a magazine run annual literary award whose original prime directive was to influence the Hugos. Clever. But here’s the thing. The Locus Award winner is decided by the magazine’s readers. Yes, put it to the people and a studio will have a pretty good indication as to whether or not they’ve got an #EpicWin or #EpicFail to add to their movie CV. And Jeff Bridges is a wizard. People love wizards. Just look at Harry Potter. Full of wizards.
Cue the fantasy-tastic VFX laden trailer.
So based on that, to which side are your scales tipping? Seventh Son looks awesome on paper but does it got that je ne sais quoi that all great fantasy movies possess? Does the delayed release date make you doubtful or hopeful? Did that trailer lull your disbelief into willing suspension? Judging by that trailer and source material cred, the film appears to have all the winning fantasy movie ingredients. It’s even got Kit Harrington and Antje Traue, who played the role of Faora-Ul and killed it in Man of Steel. And let’s not forget, Jeff Bridges is a wizard, and it looks like while he’s getting his wizard on he’s going to be funny too while he’s wizarding. Just don’t compare him to Gandalf because no one can be Gandalf, so it’s all good, right? Can we ask for more? We might. Fantasy fans can be notoriously hard to please so this film better be tight.
Seventh Son lands in theaters January 17, 2014 in both 3D and 2D theaters, and IMAX.