Season of the Witch or Yankees with Swords?

It was in in the first half of 2010 when I came across the trailer for Nicholas Cage in Season of the Witch.  As the months left the calendar, my interest for this film remained in some deep, dark corner of my brain, though its title escaped me.  It wasn’t until a month ago when I saw a movie poster that my waning curiousity for the film was revived.   Nicholas Cage has not exactly been a fan favorite at the box office in recent memory.  Will his Hollywood stature of old be rekindled?  Or will Season of the Witch continue the Oscar-winner’s hex? 

The film takes place in the 14th century during the Crusades as Christian and Muslim armies slaughter each other in the name of God.  Meanwhile, on a more micro level, Christians are rounding up women labeled as witches, leaving them to whatever penalty the Church deems appropriate.  Often times back then, it meant hanging or burning at the stake.  Here, it hopefully means just that after a winding journey that takes us over the river and through the woods (no grandmother’s house though), but are rickety bridges and howling wolves enough?

In Season of the Witch, director Dominic Sena commandeers a film that wants to be fictitious in medieval times, though serious with a few witty lines.  Instead, it comes across as fictitious in medieval times, and silly with a few serious lines.  The movie isn’t slow, though at just over an hour and a half, this is a quick romp anyway.  Cage is paired up with Ron Perlman of Hellboy fame, as the two appear to be Templar Knights, or at least very successful soldiers bearing the Cross of Malta in the Christian army.  The pair grow frustrated and disjointed from their military task and all the slaying “for God.” 

As deserters, they eventually get assigned the task of escorting a female prisoner across European countrysides during the times of the Black Plague.  Along the way, their prisoner has a way of cutting down the party one by one, even from the confines of her caged wagon.  The effects are alright, though it almost looks like some of the landscapes have a purposely placed hazy effect to somewhat mask the obviousness of CGI.  However, that little detail is nothing worth criticizing the film over.   The real harm is done in the script’s layout, followed by Cage’s delivery.  He was wrong for this role.  Perlman was not a great fit either as the two spoke their lines with their American accents.  It put the kabosh on any believability this film could have had.  As a result, it makes it difficult to take the characters seriously. 

On the bright side, the story has enough flow to it that you do develop a care for the characters.  Sure Cage, Perlman, and eager helper Kay (pronounced ‘Ky’) played by Robert Sheehan, seemed out of place by a few hundred years or so when they spoke, but you ultimately want to see these guys get the job done.  A lot of this has to do with the proficient acting of their prisoner, simply known as “The Girl” (Claire Foy).  Foy’s behavior is so sneaky at times that she does a great job drawing you in, making you wonder if she is wrongly accused or if she really is a practitioner of the black arts. 

After a while, you really hope they get this chick to wherever she needs to be.  Other than that, some great makeup work and a few good visual effects round out the positives this movie had to offer.  However, the negatives outweighed these significantly and Season of the Witch is worth nothing more than a rental at the end of the day.  If I tell you two knights, a priest and an altar boy walk into a castle, it almost sounds like the beginnings of a joke.  The punchline is Season of the Witch.  Unfortunately, this is no laughing matter as the downside could be ticket money spent better elsewhere. 


11 Responses to “Season of the Witch or Yankees with Swords?”

  1. Aaron Neuwirth

    I was thinking about seeing this, and then I remembered it’s January.

  2. Brian White

    They’re like cockroaches!

  3. Gerard Iribe

    I will rent this then.

    Aaron, Daybreakers was last January.

  4. Sean Ferguson

    I have zero interest in this.

  5. Aaron Neuwirth

    Gerard, I didn’t like Daybreakers.

  6. Jiminy Critic

    Look at it as another notch in Nic’s $$$ to the IRS… Maybe a few more dogs like this and he can make great movies again! Did I say “again?”

  7. Aaron Neuwirth

    Hey, I may not care to see this movie, but it’s not because of Nic Cage. He always brings something interesting to his roles, however random they may seem.

    In the last year he had Kick Ass and Bad Lieutenant, which were both great Cage performances. He was even decent in Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

    And I’m looking forward to whatever off the wall stuff he’ll bring to Drive Angry 3D and the next R-rated Ghost Rider movie, directed by the creators of Crank.

    Even without the IRS issues, Cage is one of the busiest leading men in the business.

  8. Kyle

    @ Aaron: That also means the creators of Jonah Hex, Pathology, and Gamer…

    I agree with you on Cage though, he is very fun to watch, however bad his hairpiece may be, or ridiculous of a film it is. He was brilliant in Both Kick-Ass and Bad Lietenant though…

  9. Kyle

    Aaron…they also “created” Gamer, Pathology and Jonah Hex.

    I do agree with you about Cage though.

  10. Kyle

    Sorry, one of those was a repost, the site was acting up and I didn’t think it posted. :3

  11. Jiminy Critic

    Aaron… apparently I touched a nerve… just a personal observation… I concede the “Bad Lieutenant” performance… really nasty and realistic… didn’t care for “Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” but ya gotta love “Snake Eyes” and “Blue Boy” ha! I think my comments are more directed at some of the dogs he has been in, although his contribution is usually interesting… Lately, he just seems to be popping up in every new release, thus, the $$$ and IRS comments… No harm intended…