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Review: Season of the Witch

Season of the Witch
01.07.2011
5 10

PLOT: Having abandoned the Crusades, two fourteenth century knights (Nicolas Cage & Ron Perlman) are forced to transport a young woman (Claire Foy) accused of being a witch and responsible for the Black Plague, to a monastery where she'll be put on trial.

REVIEW: By this point, I'm pretty sure nobody's going to walk into SEASON OF THE WITCH with particularly high expectations. The film has reportedly sat on the shelf for at least a year, and the trailers make it look like some kind of SyFy Original, rather than a big-budget genre release starring Nicolas Cage. The early January release date doesn't inspire much confidence either, and truth be told, I was flabbergasted to get an invite to a press screening of this film, as I assumed it wouldn't screen for critics.


Having finally seen it for myself, I can say that while SEASON OF THE WITCH is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a good film, it's not all that bad either. Granted, it seems like a rather shoddily put together film, and the reported re-shoots have turned the film into a bit of a schizophrenic mess. I presume the original cut of the film was going for a more atmospheric, Hammer-horror style film. Apparently, the film did go through some re-shoots to add more action, so now you get a film that's about 70% low-key horror, that all of a sudden morphs into an action flick during the last half hour, featuring Cage taking on undead monks, a winged demon, and other poorly realized CGI ghouls.

Yet, for the most part, SEASON OF THE WITCH is OK for what it is. While many believe Nicolas Cage's career has gone into free-fall thanks to a series of films that range from underwhelming (NATIONAL TREASURE 2), to ludicrous (KNOWING), to unfathomably awful (BANGKOK DANGEROUS), the fact remains that Nicolas Cage is one very talented guy. Sure, his choices in material may not have been great lately, but the occasional KICK-ASS, or BAD LIEUTENANT: PORT OF CALL NEW ORLEANS proves that he hasn't lost any of the talent that made him a mega star.



SEASON OF THE WITCH probably belongs in the same category as NATIONAL TREASURE 2 or THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE, as an underwhelming, but not atrocious Cage vehicle. He's actually pretty restrained here, although one might also say that he seems bored. He doesn't really get a heck of a lot to do except occasionally swing a sword, and the only time he seems really engaged is when joking around with co-star Ron Perlman, with whom he shares some pretty decent, friendly chemistry. Of course, we also get another great Nicolas Cage hairpiece, with this being similar to the feathered, long rug he wore in THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE. It actually suits the role fairly well, and it's not distracting like the one in BANGKOK DANGEROUS, which I maintain is one of the worst hairpieces to have ever shown up on celluloid.

One good thing about SEASON OF THE WITCH that deserves to be singled out is the performance by Claire Foy as the suspected witch, who manages to be convincing as both a monstrous witch, and a comely, likable girl. The guessing game as the whether or not she's actually a witch is one of the better parts of the film. I also liked seeing Stephen Graham turn up as the quasi-comic relief. It's a nothing role, but Graham, so brilliant in THIS IS ENGLAND, is always a welcome presence.


One of the big problems with SEASON OF THE WITCH is that it comes out so closely to the similarly themed BLACK DEATH, which is a vastly superior film, despite the fact that it probably has about of quarter of the budget SEASON OF THE WITCH has. It's a much more focused, gritty tale, with this trying instead to also function as a fantasy flick, which wouldn't be a bad thing if the action didn't feel so tacked on. The ending in particular seems like something scrapped of the cutting room floor from GHOST RIDER, and the CGI is bad enough to make you think the distributor may, at one point, have thought of sending this straight to DVD, which is really where it probably belongs.

Suffice to say, SEASON OF THE WITCH is not a triumphant return to form for Nicolas Cage, but it's also far from his worst film. I have high hopes that DRIVE ANGRY 3D is going to be a solid, fun action vehicle for Cage, but I hope one day he'll be back in the position to give us something in the realm of his best work, like LEAVING LAS VEGAS, THE ROCK, LORD OF WAR, or THE WEATHER MAN. I still have a lot of faith in Cage, and I think we'd be foolish to write him off just yet.

Extra Tidbit: Seriously- see BLACK DEATH!!!
Source: JoBlo.com

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