Season of the Witch Directed by: Dominic Sena Cast: Nicolas Cage, Ron Perlman, Claire Foy Running Time: 1 hr 35 mins Rating: PG-13 Release Date: January 7, 2011
PLOT: Two knights (Cage and Perlman) turn away from killing in the name of the church in the 14th-century. But then they must transport a suspected witch to a trial because she could be responsible for the Black Plague.
WHO'S IT FOR? Are you a sucker for Cage no matter what the case? Either that or do you revel in snickering at bad movies? Season of the Witch just might be for you, but no one else.
EXPECTATIONS: I have to say the only reason I was excited is because I realized I hadn't been in a theater since December 16, 2010. That's almost three weeks! And it was Little Fockers! An action movie with the bizarrely entertaining Nic Cage sounded pretty good to me even if it's early January (typically when studios dump bad movies).
ACTORS: Nicolas Cage as Behmen: Behmen is a name people love to shout from the mountain tops, at least in this flick. There's always something with Cage isn't there? Sometimes it's the crazy hair (extensions). Sometimes it's the crazy character. Other times it's the crazy lines. Are you noticing a theme here (hint: it's crazy). This time around it's the hair a little bit, but mainly the almost accent. He speaks in American standard (an English accent without the accent). It's almost like he tried on the accent, and director Sena was able to talk him halfway out of it. Behmen is haunted by accidentally killing a woman in the name of the church during the Age of the Crusades. You'd think if you kill thousands of men, and have a pretty good time with it, you'd be able to get over one woman. Not Behmen. He (kind of) has ethics. The speaking, the hair and the general nicageness make up for the poorly written, boring character, but that doesn't necessarily make it good. Score: 5
Ron Perlman as Felson: It's amazing how the general public doesn't know who Perlman is. Sure, all of the Hellboy makeup doesn't help, but movies like City of Lost Children need to be seen. Movies like Season of the Witch don't need to be seen, but Perlman hasn't totally mailed this in. Or, if he has, that's all the more reason Perlman should be employed more often. Felson is Behman's sidekick and apparently doesn't have an opinion for himself. Why? No clue. But he packs a punch and likes to drink so it's all OK. Score: 6
Claire Foy as The Girl: If she glares like a witch, casts spells like a witch, has black hair like a witch, makes evil eyes like a witch ... what does that make her? I'll let you decide. Foy isn't a familiar face and while there is a little bit of time spent wondering if this girl is good or evil there isn't much belief going on here. Score: 4
Robert Sheehan as Kay: He's an alter boy. Insert all of the jokes you want, but looking at Sheehan my only thought was, "Isn't he the prettiest boy in all of the land." That's not an insult, it's an observation. Kay tags along because someone young and inexperienced HAS to tag along in a movie like this. While he is oddly good with a sword, you never want him leading the charge. He has a blank stare about him and I never feel like he ever made the leap to becoming a man. Maybe they are saving that for a ... gulp ... sequel. Score: 3
TALKING: Clichés are rampant. One-liners are rampant. There is plenty of talk about God and what he stands for and what he would allow to exist but there really isn't explanation. At one point an evil character pretty much squeezes in a line that goes something like this, "Do you realize how annoying this book has been in my life?" It's just one example of the dialogue being forced into this film, attempting to have it make some sort of sense. Perlman probably gets the most laughs, which is the true point of this character, but it's his delivery as opposed to the actual lines like, "They're like cockroaches!" when talking about some possessed monks (the worst kind of monks). As far as accurate language, it seems s**t, ass and "getting the hell out of here" have been around longer than I thought. Score: 3
SIGHTS: Sometimes the effects are absolutely terrible. It's obvious green screen when Cage and Perlman are battling through the crusades. On the other hand, there are some good gross out moments with the Black Plague and people not being dead yet. The costumes look accurate, but that's easy right? At least there is an old bridge that is completely a cliché, but always entertaining. Score: 4
SOUNDS: The musical score is really trying at times here. There will be moments that you don't think you're supposed to be excited, but the music ramps up and you just assume the action is going to start. You'd be wrong. Score: 3
BEST SCENE: The old bridge. They must cross, but who knows if it will hold them? Will it, won't it? Pins and needles.
ENDING: You have to respect some of the choices the ending makes. Not everyone survives, and I would say that was a very pleasant surprise.
QUESTIONS: Why on Earth are we questioning whether the girl is a witch or not? And then, to top it off, there are other things besides witches in this world? Hang on a second, are there even witches in this world? Most importantly is "this world" our world? Like, are trying to say this happened in Earth's history?
REWATCHABILITY: The only time I see myself sitting down with this is if I'm with co-host Eric D. Snider and we decide to make fun of it for others "MST3K" style.
Season of the Witch entertains, but don't get me wrong, it's bad. My expectations for this movie weren't high, but it moves quickly and there are enough things to chuckle at or be surprised by. It recalls cheesy moments in films like Beastmaster. Some of the special effects are completely mailed in, like ectoplasm demons exiting out of possessed demons.
Front and center is Nic Cage. We've all heard that he's dealing with some financial issues, and this movie has "paycheck" written all over it. That doesn't mean Cage doesn't try, I just don't know exactly what he was trying for. This is a typical line, "We must go, there isn't hope here." It reminded me of Kevin Costner's dialect in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
All of the fun stuff is here ... sword play, guys with torches, a damsel distressing, the bridge that I have already mentioned too many times ... it just doesn't make tons of sense. When I was watching True Grit I realized it was time for another great Western, and with that movie, I immediately got it. With Robin Hood (Russell Crowe's) and now Season of the Witch I realized it is time for another tale about knights and the lore that can go along with it ... they just aren't it.
FINAL SCORE: 4/10