‘The Loft,’ ‘Seventh Son’ Arrive on Home Video

Forrest Hartman

 

 

A fantasy film starring Jeff Bridges and a morality tale about philandering men anchor this week’s home video releases.

 

 

The Loft

2 stars (out of four)
Rated R for sexual content, nudity, bloody violence, language and some drug use
Universal Studios
Available on: Blu-ray, DVD, digital download and on demand

 

Director Eric Van Looy’s remake of the Danish film “Loft” is an off-kilter morality play marked by unseemly characters, unlikely actions and a multitude of twists. The plot centers on five men – Vincent (Karl Urban), Chris (James Marsden), Luke (Wentworth Miller), Marty (Eric Stonestreet) and Philip (Matthias Schoenaerts) – who agree to rent a secret loft where they can take women without their wives’ knowledge.

 

The fact that the men are willing to engage in this activity says a lot about their character, but Van Looy goes out of his way to make at least some of them seem like decent human beings. He is only moderately successful because the men are even further besmirched when they discover a woman’s body in the loft and decide to talk the situation out rather than call the police.

 

“The Loft,” of course, wants viewers thinking about the lengths people go to in order to protect their deepest secrets. That’s an interesting start point, but the setup is better than the execution.

 

The cast is filled with likable players, particularly Marsden and Urban, but they are less agreeable when inhabiting such dark roles. That said, it’s not the gritty subject matter that unravels “The Loft.” People do ugly things all the time, and explorations of such deeds can be enlightening. The biggest problem is that “The Loft” is more interested in becoming a twist-filled thriller than in indicting its players for their immoral behavior. To this order, the movie has a fractured timeline, and it often switches gears, frequently asking viewers to reassess what they’ve seen before.

 

Unexpected plot twists can be fun, but they work best when focused on characters that everyone cares about. With “The Loft,” all the major players are pretty nasty, so it’s difficult to develop empathy for their situations or interest in their fates.   

 

The Blu-ray and DVD editions contain no extra features.

 

 

Seventh Son

2½ stars
Rated PG-13 for intense fantasy violence and action throughout, frightening images and brief strong language
Universal Studios
Available on: Blu-ray, DVD, digital download and on demand

 

“Seventh Son” endured problems during and after production, and that led to multiple delays in the film’s theatrical release. When it finally reached U.S. theaters in February, it earned only $17.2 million, a significant letdown considering a production budget of nearly $100 million. Most critics also panned the film, which was predictable but not entirely fair.

 

Anyone who cares to pay attention will notice that most of the critical community seems to possess unbridled love for darlings like Joss Whedon and Brad Bird, meaning they can crank out mediocre efforts – think “Avengers: Age of Ultron” and “Tomorrowland” – while earning largely favorable reviews. In the meantime, the claws come out when less-adored directors, like “Seventh Son’s” Sergey Bodrov, turn in similarly flawed efforts.

 

It’s difficult to say what drives this phenomenon and exactly what a director must do to enter “untouchable” territory because the boundaries are always shifting. But there are certain artists who – at least for a time – seem mostly immune to critical backlash. 

 

None of this is to say “Seventh Son” is brilliant. The movie, based on novelist Joseph Delaney’s “The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch,” is never more than good Saturday-morning fun, and there is plenty to critique. 

 

The plot is simplistic, and it centers on a powerful knight named Master Gregory (Jeff Bridges). Gregory is known as a Spook because he specializes in dispatching supernatural baddies. Gregory is good at his work, but he suffers a setback when his apprentice is killed by a witch called Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore). Gregory then seeks out Tom Ward (Ben Barnes), the seventh son of a seventh son. This birth status is supposed to give Tom particular strength, and the young man agrees to help the Spook despite the fact that battling supernatural forces is notoriously dangerous.

 

For Tom, the assignment is particularly treacherous because Gregory says they must confront Malkin soon, and she is one of the most powerful witches he’s met. This means Tom must train quickly, and the movie follows his rapid transformation from farm hand to supernatural warrior. The movie also has a perfunctory romantic subplot, plenty of action and special effects sequences highlighted by witches transforming into dragons and other frightening creatures.  

 

Fans of the fantasy genre have seen films like this before, and Bodrov adds nothing new. Still, he moves the story at a brisk pace and uses the surprisingly strong cast effectively.

 

Bridges is good at playing an eccentric-yet-sage mentor, a role he has taken in other movies, including “The Giver.” The fact that Bridges has walked similar territory before is a negative, but it’s difficult to complain about his performance. Moore is likewise strong as the main villain and Barnes is a handsome and pleasing leading man.

 

With all of these pieces in place, the “The Seventh Son” is an entertaining fantasy effort. It does not defy expectations, nor does it break cinematic ground. Neither is it recommended for people who hate the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings franchises. But, for those who enjoy a fantasy lark, it’s a fine diversion. 

 

Blu-ray and DVD extras include several behind-the-scenes features and a visual effects gallery.

 

 

ALSO OUT THIS WEEK

 

“Sons of Liberty”: All five hours of the History miniseries dramatizing the American Revolution and ensuing events. Ben Barnes, Ryan Eggold, Marton Csokas, Rafe Spall, Michael Raymond-James, Henry Thomas, Jason O’Mara and Dean Norris star.

 

“Major Crimes” – The Complete Third Season: The fourth season of this police drama debuts on TNT in June. In the meantime, fans can check out the 19 recent episodes on this set. The focus is on Captain Sharon Raydor (Mary McDonnell) who leads a team of investigators dedicated to solving Los Angeles’ highest-profile crimes. 

 

“Ray Donovan” – Season Two: The 12 most-recent episodes of the Showtime series about a Los Angeles law firm employee (Liev Schreiber) who specializes in payoffs. Jon Voight, Paula Malcomson, Eddie Marsan, Dash Mihok, Pooch Hall and Steven Bauer also star.

 

“The Nanny” – The Complete Series: All 145 episodes of the 1990s sitcom about a Queens woman (Fran Drescher) who becomes an integral part of the upper-crust New York family that she works for.

 

“Let us Prey”: Horror-thriller about a rookie police officer (Pollyanna McIntosh) who must fight for her life when a strange man (Liam Cunningham) arrives at her precinct and seems to spur supernatural events. Directed by Brian O’Malley. 

 

“Looney Tunes – Musical Masterpieces”: Warner Brothers releases 18 of the company’s music-heavy cartoons. Highlights include “Three Little Bops,” “Rabbit of Seville” and “What’s Opera, Doc?”

 

Author Bio:

 

Forrest Hartman, a contributing writer at Highbrow Magazine, is an independent film critic whose byline has appeared in some of the nation's largest publications. For more of his work visit www.ForrestHartman.com. 

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