Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

You know we have nothing but mad love for actor Nicholas Cage over at the FCU. There are some things that Mr. Cage does as an actor that I think that other actors simply cannot do. I can’t imagine anybody else playing Big Daddy in ‘Kick-Ass’ or his turn as the Bad Lieutenant in that unnecessary ‘Bad Lieutenant’ follow up. However, invariably when one opens with a statement of flattery, usually what follows is something not so nice and this won’t be any different, but just because someone gives you a role accompanied by a check with ten million dollars attached to it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to cash that check. I’m assuming at this stage in the man’s career there’s probably another ten million dollar check right behind that check that probably provides something more suited to the actor’s skills. I’m just saying that devil possessed motorcycle riders, supreme sorcerers and crusading knights simply isn’t what my man does best. That’s all I’m saying. You’ve probably heard some really bad things about this movie ‘Season of the Witch’ and while it won’t set the world on fire, it’s really not all that bad. It’s just maybe that the ten or twelve million dollars they gave Nic could’ve been better used elsewhere. Nic’s not going to go hungry, he will be okay.

Our film opens with one of those witch trials from back in day. It goes something like… ‘Are you a witch?’ Answer with ‘no’ then you will be branded a liar and burned. Answer with ‘yes’ then you will be branded a witch and burned. We call that ‘inequitable’ where I come from. One of those murdered witch suspects really was a witch or something because after it was hung and drowned it jumped out of the water and started messing up stuff. That’s not normal.

Across town crusading knights of the Crusade Behman (Cage) and Felson (Ron Perlman) are running across Europe killing any and everybody for Jesus. The battles they are fighting kind of run together, indistinguishable from one another, but the some of the dialog between Cage and Perlman was pretty damned amusing. After a good ten years of crusading mayhem, Behman has come to the conclusion that either The Church is screwed up or God is messed up, but killing women and children in His name just ain’t right, so he and his boy are outta there.

But the more he fights to stay away the harder they work to keep bringing him back. Our deserting crusaders are rounded up and assigned to escort this accused witch (Claire Foy) to some far off land of monks because it is believed that she is responsible for the Black Plague that has afflicted the land, and some wacky incantation that these monks possess will fix all of that.

So along with a priest (Stephen Campbell Moore), a guide (Stephen Graham), another knight (Ulrich Thomsen) and an alter boy (Robert Sheehan) the crew sets off with the girl witch in tow. But is she really a witch? Behman has his doubts. Of course his doubts are due to the girl telling him she’s not a witch but she is darned convincing. It’s a treacherous journey and not all of our crew are going to make it, and even for those that do there is a little surprise waiting for them at Monk-ville. Good luck you murdering crusading knights of the crusade.

I realize that simply saying ‘It’s not that bad, really’ is neither valid criticism or worthy praise, but the truth of the matter is that ‘Season of the Witch’ isn’t nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be. Director Dominic Sena combines a shaky but intriguing recollection of world history with some digital creatures of varying quality to give us a movie that is mercifully brief but in that brief time does manage to movie fairly briskly. There’s some spooky imagery going on and plenty of boil infested villagers lying about, some who even lurch forward at you when you least expect it. I gotta say that around the fifth time that happened, I was kind of expecting it.

I guess the problem that I see with ‘Season of the Witch’ is that I don’t know exactly what kind of movie this is supposed to be. Is it a horror movie? There are some horror elements in it but if it’s a horror movie it’s a pretty crappy one since the horror shock elements are so poorly presented and rest largely on the shoulders of boil infested villagers. As an adventure movie it works much better since some of the adventure set pieces are better presented, but it’s still a half-ass adventure flick since it has to give way to the undercooked horror elements. Of course it could be a comedy considering listening to Nic Cage and Ron Perlman speak in dialog that sounds like it was written for a couple of New York City beat cops on their way to the local medieval festival was consistently amusing.

And as such the main problem in this movie is that there is almost nothing about my main man Nicholas Cage that screams Crusading Knight and Nic didn’t do anything in this flick to help propel that illusion along. Plus Cage’s most endearing talent as an actor is the manic energy he oft times brings to a role but here he was a Crusading Knight on Valium. From Brooklyn.

Oh well. ‘Season of the Witch’ isn’t the worst movie around, no matter what you hear, but it’s probably not something worthy of shelling $9.50 worth of your hard earned shekels on. I’m surprised they didn’t run it through that post 3D nonsense to squeeze another five bucks out of us. For that, at least, I am thankful.

Editors note: We have informed Christopher that Nicholas Cage is having money problems. As such we would like to take this time to formally apologize to Nicholas Cage for chastising him for grabbing this loot… go get paid Nic.

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