I’ve seen so many brilliant and depressing dramas the past few weeks that I thought I’d go for something more action-oriented and maybe even a little bit spooky this weekend. Well, a friend had told me that seeing a Nic Cage flick is like a signature of mediocrity these days, but hey, sometimes I need to see something I don’t need to think too much about. All the depressing films I’ve seen can give a popcorn film a new light of appreciation I hope. After the films “Kick-Ass” and “The Sorcerer‘s Apprentice“, I guess we should have an idea as to where Nic Cage movies would be headed these days. But “Season of the Witch” also stars Ron Perlman (Hellboy), and like Bruce Campbell, I watch anything with Ron Perlman these days…
During the crusades in the 1300’s, a couple of disillusioned knights have abandoned their duty to try and cleanse themselves of the innocent blood that they have spilled in the name of the church. Behmen (Nicholas Cage) and Felson (Ron Perlman) journey to forget their past sins and seek safe haven when they find a kingdom overwhelmed by the Black Death; whose cause has been believed to be the doing of a young, alleged witch (Claire Foy). Left with no choice but to take the accused witch to Cyttorak, a place where she can receive fair trial and proper punishment if need be, Behmen and Felson are joined by a priest (Stephen Campbell Moore), a young aspiring warrior (Robert Sheehan), a con artist (Stephen Graham) and a another knight (Ulrich Thomsen). But as the group go about their journey, strange things begin to occur; as they begin to wonder if this woman is indeed a witch….or is she something even worst?
One look at the trailer of “Season of the Witch”, and a viewer should know what he is in for. The script by Bragi Schut is very simple and the direction by Dominic Sena (Whiteout, Kalifornia) relies on its fancy visuals; there is nothing intricate about this film’s plot, it is as clear as day even as it tries to bring about some surprises and twists for good measure. Well, “Season of the Witch” isn’t a disastrous film, but to expect something inspiring or original would be the wrong way to go into this film. As demonstrated with his past efforts, Sena is a very visual director who likes to manipulate the senses with fast-pacing, cool effects and action scenes. This time, Sena takes on a gloomy atmosphere to bring forth a sense of evil in the proceedings. Yes, I see the efforts and I see what they are intended to be, it makes the film bearable but not compelling; there were times that I felt as if I was playing a video game in Xbox 360.
To add some ‘meat’ to its plot, the screenplay adds some commentary about the church’s mistakes and the misleading nature of the crusades. Yes, they are not anything we haven’t seen or heard before, brave knights riding for forgiveness of their sins. Our two characters have their baggages to carry as they seem to have troubles that have affected their sense of comfort. The dialogue in the film has one- liners intended for humor, and they do make the film easily accessible but not exactly good. I mean, I am all for funny exchanges and male banter but c’mon, no one who lived in this time period would say “sh!+”; I didn’t feel as though I am in the medieval period at all. Well, despite the rather flawed dialogue, I found Ron Perlman’s delivery quite fun as the actor just makes do with what he’s got and he has fun doing it. The witch played Claire Foy does have that innocence about her, and I liked the way Sena complemented her character with the use of shadows and careful editing. Clues to who or what she is are there, but with a lotof foreshadowing; she did seem rather creepy on some scenes. As for Nic Cage’s character, well, he is the burdened soul who seeks atonement for his sins and you know where all this is going. The character in “Season” have all the staples of films such as this.
As for the action scenes, there are a lot of them. The scenes were shot tightly and the angles are mostly kept close to generate that sense of urgency. Sena does know how to do camera trickery and fast editing; close ups, cool posturing and sword-swinging machismo are all on display in the film. The film revolves around encounters that get to display special effects; they do have their moments I admit as some scenes inspired a good jump scare. The costumes (especially our protagonists’) have similarities to Japanese samurai leather armor, I suppose it wasn’t they weren’t so bad as is the film’s soundtrack. The special effects are Sena’s and the visual artists’ vision of pure evil; the creature effects somehow reminded me of the game “God of War”, and I am not sure as to why.
Yes, this is not a straight-forward film about witchcraft, there is a twist and that twist concerns a worst evil. (you can easily guess, but somehow, the way it speaks sounds rather exotic) The film does hit some areas of suspense and the film had its moments when it comes to action, but its over-reliance to visual effects hamper whatever emotions the film manages to instill in me. I was rather disappointed that “Season of the Witch” isn’t too much about witchcraft at all; I wouldn’t be bothered too much by its flaws but I felt I was a little misled. Let’s just keep it as “Season of the Witch” is a medieval-occult-horror, action-swordplay film. It does entertain albeit for the wrong reasons.
*1/2 out of **** I almost don't want to call Dominic Sena's "Season of the Witch" a bad film. It is, in fact, NOT a remake of the George Romero film of the same name; but as an original work, it still lacks the grit and enthusiasm that could have made it work. It treats serious subjects with near apathy, the actors never seem into it, and frankly, the whole thing just stinks. It's not the worst movie I will see this year, but it is still slow, ponderous, and stupid. Now, … more
Star Rating: What we have here is a bit of a contradiction: A historical drama that exposes the hypocrisy of the Church and a supernatural thriller that confirms the existence of evil demonic forces. This is clearly not a matter of what the filmmakers would have us believe, but even in terms of pure entertainment, I’m puzzled as to how anyone thought both messages could be sent in the same story. One can be taken seriously. The other cannot. Season of … more
I'm really hoping that this turns out to be as interesting as it looks. There haven't been many good Medieval epics and this one reminds me quite a bit of a subplot in "The Seventh Seal". However, it stars Nic Cage which is kind of like the kiss of death these days.
14th-century knights transport a suspected witch to a monastery, where monks deduce her powers could be the source of the Black Plague.
A 14th century Crusader returns to a homeland devastated by the Black Plague. A beleaguered church, deeming sorcery the culprit of the plague, commands the two knights to transport an accused witch to a remote abbey, where monks will perform a ritual in hopes of ending the pestilence. A priest, a grieving knight, a disgraced itinerant and a headstrong youth who can only dream of becoming a knight join a mission troubled by mythically hostile wilderness and fierce contention over the fate of the girl. When the embattled party arrives at the abbey, a horrific discovery jeopardises the knight's pledge to ensure the girl fair treatment, and pits them against an inexplicably powerful and destructive force.Written by Momentum Pictures