Watching Seventh Son is a bit like reading instructions that have been translated into English by someone who doesn’t actually speak the language. Sadly the creative team behind this star-studded effort just don’t speak fantasy.

Sure, Seventh Son has all the requisite parts: witch hunters, witches, a naive apprentice, dragons, simple townsfolk and, err, guys with axes for arms. And it puts them together in the right order. But somehow it never quite comes together and just leaves us with an unpleasing mess that you can’t help think would be more use if we scrapped it for parts.

Ben Barnes plays Tom Ward, the seventh son of a seventh son – which like many aspects of this film is a concept borrowed from magical lore that is misused and ill-explored. He’s apprenticed to Jeff Bridges’ witch hunter Master Gregory, who we know is deep, complex and capable of profound actions because he puts on a funny voice.

Together they must defeat uber-witch Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore), who is gathering all of the magical beings of the land together to destroy everything, essentially because she is pissed at her ex-boyfriend. Heaven forbid we let a powerful woman have a motivation that was based outside her ovaries.

A series of notionally cavalier confrontations between witches and witch-hunters ensue, escalating in size until the inevitable big battle, yet our interest in the outcome declines in inverse proportion.

Unfortunately there is no actual magic in this magical tale and this flat pack film-by-numbers is just that: flat.

‘Seventh Son’ Movie Times (also in 3D)