Season of the Witch
Review by M. Miller Davis
I genuinely love Nicolas Cage. Every ten years or so, the proper tributes are made to the Gods of Hollywood and he comes out with a wonderful film (“Leaving Las Vegas”, “Bad Lieutenant”, “Raising Arizona”, “Ghost Rider 2”). In the meantime, he offers up dozens of inexplicably terrible films. Not just a terrible performance from Mr. Cage, but somehow leaving the audience wanting on almost every level, including, most especially, adequate wiggery (before you send letters, I’m talking about bad hair).
However his prior blunders may have been a minor bad movie aperitif to the filet mignon that is ‘Season of the Witch’. I couldn’t venture to say that it is his worst movie as that would be like proclaiming a particular grain of sand on a beach is the ugliest, but I will say that it is one of the most incomplete, joyless and hollow films I have ever seen in MY life.
The premise is that Behman (Nic Cage) and Felson (Ron Perlman) become knights of the highest caliber during the Crusades against the Muslims, as crusaders were want to do. But as they perform increasingly brutal acts, they become disillusioned with the cause and desert the army. In their travels they find a city beset by the black plague and are conscripted to transport an alleged witch across dangerous lands so that a group of well-qualified monks can destroy her and lift the plague from the land. They join the group and unpleasant things occur to everyone along the way.
A major plot point in the beginning of the film is that Behman (Cage) is not quite sure that the young girl is truly a harbinger of evil. For some reason though, that question is answered about fifteen minutes after it is raised and then reposed repeatedly throughout the duration of the film. It would be like a reporter coming into Charles Foster Kane’s office an hour into the movie and saying ‘Hey Charlie, you know the name of your childhood sled? What was that again??” then continuing on with the proceedings.
The acting in some sections seems to be a parody of itself, including a distinct lack of any accents from our heroes and the use of modern day colloquialisms more befitting a New York crime thriller. Not everyone is terrible but none of them seem to care enough about being in a feature length studio movie to overshadow the scenery gobbling of Cage and Perlman.
The effects, of which there are a fair amount, are on par with a high-budgeted SyFy network film, perhaps about a mutated boll weevil or snowboarding teenage zombies. Some scenes are so poorly rendered, including the final battle, that astonishment must either turn to laughter or sobbing to keep from brandishing a firearm in your living room.
I will say little more on this film, to further explore is reasonings and machinations would be like asking a child why they drew on the walls. And to continue to bash it for laughs would be like taking the fish out of the barrel and taping it to the end of the gun. Neither would offer satisfaction.
Summary: Unpleasant in all aspects. Far too violent for children and incomprehensible to adults. Never watch it, never consider it.