A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Seventh Son is a very loose adaptation of The Last Apprentice series by Joseph Delaney, with an aged-up protagonist (presumably to up the heartthrob factor) and only a passing similarity to the books. There's a surprising single use of "f--k" (used in exasperation), and there's more immediate passionate kissing and romance than in comparable YA fantasy adaptations. In one scene it's even implied that a teen couple has had sex, based on their position on a bed and the way the girl's top is loose and off her shoulder. The violence is on par with other fantasy series, but it's still disturbing when people are burned to ash, swallowed (the evil witches turn into animal familiars, like dragons and leopards), or killed with swords and other medieval weapons.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In SEVENTH SON, mysterious witch hunter/defender against dark forces (aka Spook) Master Gregory (Jeff Bridges) discovers that Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore), the powerful witch he buried and imprisoned decades earlier, has escaped. She confronts Gregory and promptly kills his loyal apprentice, William Bradley (Kit Harington), before disappearing. Master Gregory visits the Ward family to investigate his next possible apprentice, Tom (Ben Barnes), another "seventh son of a seventh son" who has an inherent sensitivity to the supernatural. Together, Gregory and Tom set out to defeat Mother Malkin before the Blood Moon rises, granting her extra powers. Along the way, Tom meets Alice (Alicia Vikander), a beautiful young woman who's actually Mother Malkin's niece. With help from a stone his mother gave him, Tom must use his unique powers to make sure Malkin and her cronies don't destroy their land and everyone in it.
Is it any good?
Like the Percy Jackson movies, Seventh Son is an adaption that absolutely doesn't do justice to the books on which it's based. Fans of Joseph Delaney's Last Apprentice series will probably be particularly unable to stomach the movie, as they'll spend the entire time complaining (possibly out loud) how far from the books the movie diverges, starting with it's hunky 30-something star pretending to be an older teen, playing a character who in the book is actually 12. While it's nothing new for movies to age up middle-school protagonists, it's still disappointing how little (with the exception of character names) this movie resembles Delaney's popular action-packed novels.
What's even more galling is that the actors are all clearly phoning it in or camping it up. Not to mention the eyebrow-raising fact that all of Mother Malkin's minions are played by minorities like Djimon Hounsou, who audiences probably forget is actually a wonderful, nuanced actor. There's little redeeming about Seventh Son, unless watching Bridges act drunk (half of his lines are slurred) and Moore vamp around as a dragon witch sounds like fun. And unfortunately, even though the book series appeals to kids as young as 8 or 9, the filmmakers decided to kick Tom and Alice's romance into gear almost immediately: they kiss passionately (and every kiss leads to Vikander gasping) and appear to sleep together without so much as an "I love you." Skip this and watch (or re-watch) a much worthier fantasy film instead.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the popularity of movie adaptations of popular children's and young adult fantasy series. What are the benefits of making a movie based on a well-known book? What are the potential drawbacks?
Those familiar with the Last Apprentice books, were you satisfied with this adaptation? What changes did you like? What did you miss from the books? Why do you think filmmakers tend to age younger main characters up for movie adaptations?
Some critics have said Seventh Son is "so bad it's good." Are there movies you love to "hate watch"? Why are "bad" movies sometimes fun to watch?
- In theaters: February 6, 2015
- On DVD or streaming: May 26, 2015
- Cast: Jeff Bridges, Julianne Moore, Ben Barnes
- Director: Sergei Bodrov
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Book Characters
- Run time: 102 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: intense fantasy violence and action throughout, frightening images and brief strong language
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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