Season of the Witch – Review

by Ken B.

Watching Season of the Witch is comparable to watching someone else play a poorly designed video game. You want to grab the controller, but for the sole purpose of lunging it through the TV, for you figure that watching the thing explode is far more entertaining than whatever’s going on onscreen at the moment.

Have I made my point yet? Season of the Witch is a terrible movie. It’s 95 minutes long, and whether this is a testament to slow-mindedness or a poor script is for you to decide, but I required 56 of those 95 minutes before I could determine the name of Nicolas Cage’s character. And later, when I looked up the movie on the iMDB, I found out I was wrong. Speaking of Cage, he could once be called an actor who appeared in good movies. Certainly in that time period, he proved he was over-qualified to appear in fantastic movies. As part of the Coppola family, there is major cinematic talent apparent in his 1980s – 1990s filmography. And now, AMPAS is most certainly thinking “Are we allowed to repeal Oscars?” It’s odd that a Best Actor win in 1996 could be followed up with Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance and an entry entitled (according to the posters) Drive Angry – Filmed in 3D.

Season of the Witch is one of those bad movies which you’re not really expecting much even from the plot. Set in 14th Century Europe, Cage portrays Behman, a knight. He has a friendship with a fellow knight, Felson (RON PERLMAN, who appears to be the only cast member who realizes the level of quality we’re working with here). After several years worth of fighting, it finally sets in on Behman that innocent women and children are being killed in the proceedings (once again, title cards explain that the large army he’s a part of had been at this for several years prior), so he and Felson flee, and soon become caught up in a mission to hunt down witches believed to be the cause of the Black Plague. In the process, they form a group of warriors, including a priest (STEPHEN CAMPBELL MOORE) and an alter boy (ROBERT SHEEHAN).

Acting wise, we’ve got typical post-2002 Nicolas Cage here. Ron Perlman occupies a whole wink at the camera kind of demeanor, which can add a bit of humility in the movie. That’s it. The party of warriors is basically “meh” to completely dead, with Sheehan, an Irish actor I was unfamiliar with, occupying a deer-in-headlights thing whenever the camera is close to him. At least I think the camera was close to him. Actually, it’s rather difficult to tell when the camera is close to anyone, with the lighting so poor. Seriously. I must assume that the 14th Century wasn’t fortunate enough to have the sun for more than 5 minutes at a time.

This isn’t a joke, but a serious statement. The best scene in the movie was the last. It had decent lighting and direction. If you watched that scene on its own, you would believe that the preceding 95 minutes belonged to an adequate movie.

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