⋆⋆⋆ out of four stars
Rated: PG-13 for intense fantasy violence and action throughout.
“Seventh Son” is a bona fide hoot, not because of its swords-and-sorcery subject matter — that’s pretty common — but its tone. Based on Joseph Delaney’s popular young adult “Spook” series, it’s a nifty saga of dragons and witches and ghosts and spells packing plenty of sly humor in among its lethal skirmishes.
Top among the good things herein is the ever-delightful Jeff Bridges, reprising his iconic Rooster Cogburn from “True Grit” with even more grit. He plays Gregory, a cantankerous old exorcist who battles evil with snap kicks as much as holy script. He’s the sort of hard-drinking mystical warrior who, when food supplies are needed for a long quest, goes to the tavern. He allows his young protégé Tom (Ben Barnes), a farmhand heir to supernatural powers as a Seventh Son, to take only one reviving sip from his flask after battle since “It belongs to me.” Bridges’ raspy growl creates a vocal performance that’s ticklishly funny regardless of thedialogue.
The pair set off to challenge wicked queen Malkin, who doubles as a flying, fire-breathing serpent (Julianne Moore, giving Meryl Streep’s “Into the Woods” witch a run for her money). Determined to destroy their Kingdom, she commands a team of shape-shifting evildoers, including Djimon Hounsou, straight from his slick bad guy riffing in “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “How to Train Your Dragon 2.” Malkin and Gregory have an added complication to their combat, as they were once true loves. Tom and a fetching damsel from Malkin’s team develop a sort of similar fling, giving the story an additional pitch of Romeo and Juliet nonsense.
Nothing here is particularly fresh, but watching it is like seeing a slice of familiar art reworked with a colorful new swatch of Crayolas. Deep? No. Thoughtful? No. A thigh-slapping good time? Oh, yes.
⋆⋆ out of four stars
Rated: R for language and some sexual content
Theater: Eden Prairie
Lily Collins plays the title character from Cecelia Ahern’s novel, a narrator we meet on a wedding day where she advises herself, “Tell them that this is, that this has to be, one of the happiest days of my life.” She’s convincing herself, because she isn’t convincing us.
Alex (Sam Claflin) was the first boy she held hands with, practically her intended since they were in elementary school. “Love, Rosie” tracks them over a star-crossed dozen years of bad timing, failed outside relationships, hard feelings and wedding toasts.
Collins (“Mirror Mirror”) and Claflin, of the last “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie, do well by the mooning-over-each-other-across-a-crowded-dance-floor stuff. But they have to keep us believing in “the dream” and hoping for their romance. They don’t.
The watery chemistry, the on-the-nose choice of pop tunes to illustrate moments (an infamous Lily Allen hit and “Alone Again, Naturally” turn up, naturally) keep “Love, Rosie” in the “Maybe we’d be better off as friends” zone.
ROGER MOORE, McClatchy News Service