Let’s get this out of the way first: Jeff Bridges is a national treasure who has delivered some of the most memorable performances in the history of cinema. He deserves a lifetime pass for portraying the Dude in The Big Lebowski, and he could play variations on True Grit’s Rooster Cogburn forever. But he has a tendency to make mistakes, especially when it comes to science fiction and fantasy titles. He has followed up the minor disasters that were R.I.P.D. and The Giver with Seventh Son, a dragonslaying adventure flick based on the novel The Spook’s Apprentice that has been sitting on a shelf for a year. It’s not difficult to see why.
Bridges stars as Master Gregory, an aging warrior tasked with wrangling evil spirits and killing witches. After his sidekick Billy (Kit Harrington) is set ablaze in the opening minutes, he takes on a new charge in scrawny Tom (Ben Barnes) in order to take on recently unleashed witch queen Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore). Alongside a charmingly indestructible beastie named Tusk and comely witch double-agent Alice (Alicia Vikander), they trek across various green screens in an effort to make it to a mountain where all the witches are plotting some sort of world-ending assault that never really gets explained.
Once the plot dominoes are arranged in an overlong series of setups, Seventh Son ends up being a movie about walking, interrupted occasionally by a battle against a mythological monster. It operates an awful lot like a video game—and not a very good one at that, as the creatures conjured in the Dragon Age series are way more convincing than the cartoonish digital bear Bridges wrestles at one point. In their defense, neither Bridges nor Moore phone it in, and they both play up the campiness of their respective characters when freed from having to spout leaden exposition. Note to future filmmakers: When you’ve got two excellent thespians willing to sink their teeth into a bunch of medieval goofballery, take the time and money you would have spent on animations of Djimon Honsou turning into a lizard and put that toward an actual script. C-