Master Gregory (Jeff Bridges) stars as the intolerable ‘spook’/witch hunter who has lost every apprentice he has ever had and now only has a week to train his latest one if he wants to have any hope of defeating the evil Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore).
From what one could gather from the film – and no thanks to director Sergei Bodrov – Master Gregory and Mother Malkin had a romance that ended terribly many years ago.
Mother Malkin murders Master Gregory’s wife to spite him, and so the cat and mouse game of mayhem and murder begins.
That is as far as I will go without spoiling the entire movie for those who have not seen it. However, I must say that they miscast Jeff Bridges for this one.
I half-heartedly expected the settings to change and switch over to a scene in the Wild West – something similar to Halle Berry’s Atlas.
While one can commend the film for its top-notch graphics, it was evident that they did not thin out the story line that well, even though the script is based on Joseph Delaney’s The Spooks Apprentice.
It felt flimsy, leaving the viewer with more questions than answers because of the gaps in the storyline.
Bodrov did a lousy job of laying the foundations of the film, because the bones of the film simply had no meat on them.
Bringing the characters back-stories to life, as opposed to including them in the dialogue here and there, would have gone a long way toward improving the film.
What is Mam’s (Olivia Williams) back-story? Why did she leave the coven? What relationship did she have with Mother Malkin and why did she turn against her?
What about Master Gregory’s story, and why did he leave Mother Malkin who by his own admission was a good witch?
Instead, it looked like Bodrov merely tried to race through the story line to the climax of the film.
The supposed climax was nothing to write home about either. The epic battle between good and evil amounted to nothing more than a few witches, ninja knights, an ogre and the two spooks battling it out.
Surprisingly, Mother Malkin’s army of evil creatures could not be bothered to show up for what the story meant to be the most memorable night of their lives – you know, receiving unimaginable power from the blood moon and all.
The gut wrenching love story with devastating sacrifices amounted to no more than a passionate night between the apprentice Tom Ward (Ben Barnes) and Alice Dean (Alicia Vikander).
The two came off as teenagers in heat, who start declaring their undying love for each other two days after they meet just for an easy lay.
I am not accusing them of not being brilliant actors, but this A-list cast could not have done much to salvage this script.
Still, it makes for a good watch if something light is what you are looking for, and there are a few laughs in there.