The reaction to the Seventh Son trailer was lukewarm at best, but it’s a big fantasy movie we haven’t seen in a while, and I want to remain positive on it. I’m a huge fan of star Jeff Bridges and antagonist Julianne Moore. Still, it’s going to be a tough sell, and everyone’s itching for a big show when you’re the lead-off panel on the biggest day of Hall H. They didn’t have a lot of time in the crowded Warner Bros./Legendary presentation, but the crowd responded well, and they made a case not to simply write this off as another January write-off like this year’s Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters.
Hit the jump to for my recap of the panel. Seventh Son opens January 17, 2014.
Moderator Chris Hardwicke brings Jeff Bridges on stage, and he’s “doing pretty dang good.” He says Seventh Son is “chuck full of myth,” which Hardwicke hopes Legendary/WB will use as the tagline. Before the director and rest of the cast comes on, we’re shown a “new” trailer/clip. I put new in quotations because most of what they showed us was in the trailer that’s already been released. The new material is a set piece featuring a gigantic bogart chasing down Master Gregory (Bridges) and his apprentice Tom Ward (Ben Barnes) they run away, hide behind a wall that leads into a cliff overlooking a ravine. They’re forced to jump, and while Gregory believes that bogarts hate water, the creature jumps over the side, and Tom has to fight the beast as they go over a waterfall. The other new bits mention that Gregory used to be lovers with the villain (Julianne Moore) and his previous apprentices have all died.
After the clip, director Sergei Bodrov, and cast members Antje Traue, Barnes, and Kit Harington come on stage. Hardwicke asks the cast to briefly describe their characters, which sadly I miss because I’m trying to remember the clip and describe it.
How tough was it for Bridges to do action scenes at his age?
It was tough, but fun. “It kind of brings you back to being a kid.” He says a lot of acting comes down to “advanced pretend”. He adds that the wonderful stunt coordinators helped train him to action scenes. Bridges says that while most special effect movies are marrying the CGI with practical effects, and they did a lot of that in Seventh Son.
The challenges of directing CGI and live-action:
Bodrov says it’s the same challenge, but when you have a good cast, the most important thing is the emotions, and forget about the CGI. The CGI is secondary.
What’s the most challenging part of the film for the cast:
Traue: She really enjoyed the action scenes, and how her character can turn into an owl. Particularly in this movie, fighting in a beautiful dress “was quite something.”
Barnes: “I didn’t have to do [the fighting] in a dress, so there was that.” He goes on to say that while he had some experience with sword fighting, this one had staffs, knives, and there was more diversity in the fight scenes. But stuff in the script like “Tom climbs the metal chain to the rafters,” and while it sounds easy, when you do it, you realize you scrape your hands, and it’s much more difficult. The hardest thing can be to keep track of where you are in the story, but Bodrov helps to get a handle on their character thru-lines.
Harington: The physical side of the character informed the personal aspects, and he had to do a wire pull for the first time. They attach a harness to your back and say “you’re going to feel a ‘light tug’…and it’s not a light tug.” But he really enjoyed the action scenes, so the hardest thing to do was also the best thing to do.
Bridges: All of us up here are storytellers, so the biggest challenge for him was telling the story. He ran across “a wonderful quote that kept him on track.” Bridges reads the Solzhenitsyn quote, and while I couldn’t transcribe the whole thing, it dealt with the nature of good versus evil, “and keep on the line of telling that story.”
Will the story remain faithful to the myth of the “Seventh Son” in Gaelic culture where a seventh son has a “second sight”
“It’s close, but we’re taking some liberties. You’ll see the movie and you’ll judge,” says Bodrov.
Closing thoughts: It’s easy to be dismissive of this movie, but I don’t believe all hope is lost. If you wanted a fantasy blockbuster, this could fit the bill in a way that’s satisfying. Admittedly, the CGI isn’t impressive, but in terms of the set design and the classic fantasy story of a master and an apprentice fighting evil, it looks like it could be solid. I know that’s not a glowing endorsement, but this crowd went for Seventh Son more than other panels I’ve seen in Hall H thus far.