Jeff Bridges’s abysmally campy performance may be the worst thing about disposable sword-and-sorcery fantasy Seventh Son, but it’s also the only memorable thing.
Bridges struggles to enliven a rote hero’s-quest plot — skeptical apprentice Tom (Ben Barnes) trains with hard-hearted magician Gregory (Bridges) to fulfill a prophecy and stop evil witch Malkin (Julianne Moore) — by mumbling declaratively through pursed lips until he sounds like he has a ruinous case of denture-lisp.
When Bridges isn’t too prominent, Seventh Son feels like an easily distracted dungeonmaster’s D&D campaign. Tom and Gregory spend most of the film banishing Malkin’s expensive-looking but forgettable CGI monster allies, including a shapeshifting man-bear and a giant, blind troll called a “boggart,” and then exchanging tough-guy quips that would only sound cool if they were improvised while rolling a twelve-sided die.
Gregory snaps, “You fight me as a dragon, not as a man. Have you no honor?” That line is lousy, but Bridges’s heinous performance — he speaks as if he has a mouthful of chewing tobacco he refuses to spit out — proves that trying too hard can be so much worse than not trying hard enough. And what could anyone have done with wispy dialogue like “When you deal with dark, dark gets in you”?