reviews\ Jan 8, 2011 at 7:00 pm

Season of the Witch Review


I'm a person known for having impeccably awful timing. Case in point: the first movie I've had the misfortune of seeing in 2011 is none other than Season of the Witch, a very strong contender for worst movie of 2011. Quite a gutsy proclamation, you'll probably guess. Well, when a film is this poorly acted with such terrible pacing, not even the B-movie attitude of Nicolas Cage can save a pile of cinematic garbage. While both Cage and Ron Perlman can do bad movies in at least an entertaining fashion, both of these passable actors barely attempt to bring any depth to Season of the Witch, and director Dominic Sena brought very little to this anemic and boring film.

The story is a simple one: Cage and Perlman are crusaders who, after years of slaughter, decide to up and desert the church, before wandering into a town overrun with the plague. The whole world has been ill for some time, and this city blames a young witch for the disease. When Cage and Perlman (this movie is so bad I can't be bothered to learn their character's names) are found to be AWOL crusaders, they are enlisted to deal with the problem. Royal members, young knightly alter boys, priests with a possible rapist stance, a conniving merchant, and a noble knight whose family had earlier died all come together to take this young woman to a nearby monastery to have a trial on her "witchiness." Oddly, while she does much to indicate a natural innocence (that dastardly priest does much for that), somehow supernatural events preclude her.

Viewers are kept in the dark on who is good and who is bad, not because the film attempts some sort of ambiguity, but because it is so poorly acted and directed. Characters you would think are good turn out bad, then good, then maybe bad. By the end, it's questionable if it was about witches in the first place. The film even makes all sorts of stupid comments about organized religion, then back tracks with a flaccid, half-baked bit of dialog that only makes the movie more confusing.

So it's basically a traveler film. Problem is, their journey doesn't feel weighty, they kind of lumber along, accidentally killing each other and being eaten by wolves. It's less intense than it sounds, with supposed important characters just dying, quickly forgotten. There's even a scene where they cross a rickety bridge! Bet you've never seen that before. Other stuff happens that try to be scary, and instead feels laughable. It's a stupid enough of an action film with enough young actors to justify this as a teenage-action film, but instead it's filled with enough failed attempts to be thrilling that Season of the Witch is just baffling to whom this film is marketed to. There is no real sense of danger (even with people dying), the plague is laughable gross, and Cage and Perlman (both of whom I really do actually like in other films) banter with a goofy fusion of contemporary language and snarkiness sprinkled with archaic uses of the reflexive pronoun �one.� Blagh.

It's a shame that Cage and Perlman are caught up in this movie. Cage, who has done mostly critical and commercial flops over the last few years, seems to have hit a new low. The man seems to be striving for the action star roles of his youth, but instead is so lackadaisical that his character may as well be a scarecrow with a paper bag for a face. Perlman, with his potato-shaped head and large chin has an oddly undeniable charm, but his character as a large and brutish man given over to women and drink is so played out and boring that I question if there was any purpose of the characters.

The worst part is, this could have been a Nicolas Cage film much like National Treasure, a movie so light and fluffy and fun that even though you know it's stupid, you'll still have a good time. Instead, Season of the Witch not only lacks substance, but it appalls at how poorly a fantasy film can really be. Don't see this film hoping for a great winter fantasy film. Instead you'll be left bored and confused.


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