Seventh Son (12A) **

Seventh Son. Pictured: Ben Barnes as Tom Ward. Picture: PA Photo/Universal Pictures.
Seventh Son. Pictured: Ben Barnes as Tom Ward. Picture: PA Photo/Universal Pictures.
Taron Egerton as Eggsy, Colin Firth as Harry Hart and Pedro Pascal as Jack Daniels.

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In Sergei Bodrov’s special effects-laden swords and sorcery romp, Oscar-winner Jeff Bridges sports a dense shaggy beard to match a dishevelled mane and chews on every single line of dialogue in Charles Leavitt and Steven Knight’s script as if he has a toffee stuck between his teeth.

The exaggerated performance and eye-catching appearance are a cheap distraction from a flimsy plot laden with unintentional hilarious dialogue and curious leaps in logic.

He plays Master John Gregory, the last remaining knight of a noble and mystical order called the Spooks, who defend humanity by containing the creatures of the dark.

He imprisons a powerful witch called Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore) but the rise of a Blood Moon empowers the diabolical hag, who transforms into a dragon and escapes confinement.

As Malkin’s powers grow, Gregory visits the home of Malcolm and Mam Ward (Timothy Webber, Olivia Williams) and he offers the parents a small fortune to train their boy Tom (Ben Barnes) – the seventh son of a seventh son – as his new apprentice.

Meanwhile, Malkin despatches her niece, Alice (Alicia Vikander), to spy on the Spook and his protege as she gathers together her allies.

Jeff Bridges’ exaggerated performance and eye-catching appearance are a cheap distraction from a flimsy plot laden with unintentional hilarious dialogue and curious leaps in logic

Based on The Spook’s Apprentice by Joseph Delaney, Seventh Son is a lumbering fantasy adventure.

Barnes is a bland hero, who valiantly keeps a straight face opposite Bridges’ incessant mumbling, while Vikander looks radiant in a thankless role as the love interest torn between the forces of light and dark.

Moore, who recently won the Academy Award for Still Alice, slinks through each frame, huskily whispering camp lines like, ‘I like boys’, without a hint of menace.

Russian director Bodrov salves some of the pain with a series of bombastic action sequences replete with flying dragons, wicked witches and an ill-tempered ogre-like creature called a boggart with an acute sense of smell.

The monster’s on-screen rage must be a violent reaction to the stink of Seventh Son.