In true dubious first film of the new year fashion, I give you the colossal suck-fest that is Season of the Witch. Oh Nicolas Cage, you are a contradictory delight. The Oscar for “Leaving Las Vegas” is proof that you’re worth the admission price. And recently your quirky onscreen presence in “Bad Lieutenant: Port of New Orleans” and the great “Kick-ass” brought flourish to the movies. But it’s that childhood mentality that gets him in trouble so so much. More times than not it seems like Cage is just interested in playing dress-up and crossing off the characters he imagined during school’s recess. Sure, “Kick-ass” rocked but being a sorcerer in “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”, a hit-man in “Bangkok Dangerous”, or a bear in “The Wicker Man” did not. These films, much like dressing up as a knight in “Season of the Witch”, needed so much more than just fun costumes.
There is so much wrong with “Season of the Witch” it’s hard to know where to start. Cage teams back up with his director from “Gone in Sixty Seconds”, Dominic Sena. Sena’s last effort was the abysmal “Whiteout” and “...Witch” is no better. Terrible F/X that wouldn’t pass in today’s video games, a script that seems like it was originally out for laughs but was edited against that idea, and overall just a boring story that’s poorly executed. Not to mention acting without effort from Cage, who doesn’t mesh at all with Ron Perlman who’s just recycling his “Hellboy” shtick.
After that mouth-watering enticement I bet you’re just salivating for some sweet plot synopsis? Well I’m gonna give it to you anyways. Behmen (Cage) and Felson (Perlman) are Crusader knights who’ve decided enough is enough with the blood-thirsty church. They defect and return to Behmen’s home which has now become infested with the Black Plague. The Black Plague is blamed on a young girl who’s accused of being the Black Witch. Behmen has his doubts but agrees to take the girl (Claire Foy), who is billed poetically enough as The Girl, on the long, dull, and dangerous journey so that she may have a fair trial against her charges.
Wouldn’t you know, mild danger ensues. The kind of cliché crap you’d hope the filmmakers would be able to not put their characters through. But they did. A young follower named Kay (Robert Sheehan) who wants to be a Knight himself is discovered. Felson tries to shoo him away but learns in a swordfight, that he actually does have skills to offer. This lame swordplay, much like the earlier Crusade battle scenes are supposed to pass as exciting entertainment. FAIL! My least favorite moment includes the crossing on a rickety old suspension bridge with heavy horses as the rope is giving way. C’mon, really?
What’s most odd is “Season of the Witch” hints that it was written to play in the comedic tone of a film like “Army of Darkness”. A demon that sounds like an angry Jar Jar Binks, and 80’s action one liner quips from Perlman, such as “now she’s sedated”, amount to no humor at all but elude to some being attempted in an earlier draft. The accents are also incredibly odd. Their journey’s guide, Hagamar (Stephen Graham), sounds like he’s from the Bronx, while Cage goes so in and out with an English accent you don’t blame him for not even trying by the middle of the movie and Perlman doesn’t even bother. Anywhoo, you get the point. “Season of the Witch” is a season to hibernate your way through.
Nicolas Cage, who turns 47 the same day this film is released, hopefully will start acting his age and put down the playtime costume characters that have treated him so poorly throughout his career.
Hopefully “this” starts acting his age.
dueteronomy 18: 10-11
Mitch Hansch/ movieswithmitch.com
Season of the Witch: