In a plague-ridden, medieval Sweden a troubled knight challenges Death to a game of chess. . . .
Sorry, that’s “The Seventh Seal.”
How about, “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away a Jedi knight trains his callow apprentice to fight the Dark Side. . . ”?
Actually, “Seventh Son,” Sergei Bodrov’s adaptation of Joseph Delaney’s series of novels, borrows from both those movies, as well as many others, and adds the requisite clichéd dialogue, hammy performances, eye-catching set design (by Dante Ferretti, who combines “Game of Thrones” with “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”) and noisy special effects in a 3-D format that makes it all look like it’s being shot through the algae of a dirty aquarium. Nonetheless, it only takes a distant second place to “Mortdecai” as the worst movie with the best cast so far in 2015.
That cast includes Oscar winner Jeff Bridges as Master Gregory, a.k.a. the Spook, the last in a line of warriors dedicated to fighting evil spirits. As the Spook, Bridges does shtick from The Dude and “True Grit” with a voice that sounds like that of Alfred Hitchcock with a serious digestive problem. The wicked witch, Mother Malkin (no relation to Michelle, the conservative columnist), is at the top of his list. Julianne Moore, favored to win an Oscar for her performance in “Still Alice,” plays Malkin. (It’s her first costarring role with Bridges since “The Big Lebowski,” speaking of anticlimax.) She utters lines like “Help yourself to the blood cakes, young one!” Then she takes five as the CGI turns Malkin into a dragon who does battle with Bridges’s stunt double.
In short, they’re getting too old for this (at least Bridges is; with her foot-long talons, scaly black garb, and pristine, deathly pallor, Moore looks even better than Angelina Jolie in “Maleficent”). So it’s up to the younger generation, Gregory’s apprentice Tom (Ben Barnes), the fortunate son of the title, and Alice (Alicia Vikander), Malkin’s half-human niece, to take up the fight and potentially stretch it into a franchise.
To its credit, despite a rough start (witch burning and all that), “Seventh Son” does not succumb to misogyny. That’s the biggest surprise in a predictable narrative that confuses monotony with destiny.