Season of the Witch (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner05/01/2011

One out of Five stars
Running time: 113 mins

Disappointing, sluggishly directed medieval thriller with poor special effects, a plot that manages to be both dull and nonsensical and not even a bonkers performance from Cage to liven things up.

What's it all about?
Directed by Dominic Sena, Season of the Witch stars Nic Cage and Ron Perlman as Behman and Felson, a pair of medieval soldiers who get tired of being ordered to murder women and children during the Crusades and desert, only to wind up in a plague-ridden village where they're asked to escort an accused witch (Claire Foy) to a distant monastery in order to halt the spread of the Black Death. They're joined by a determined priest (Stephen Campbell Moore), the priest's no-nonsense escort (Ulrich Thomsen) and an altar boy (Misfits' Robert Sheehan) who dreams of becoming a knight.

The Bad
The most frustrating thing about Season of the Witch is that it could easily have been quite good – Perlman (Hellboy!) and Cage are something of a dream team and their relationship, with its oddly relaxed, laconic bantering, is easily the best thing in the film. There's also strong support from Stephen Campbell Moore, though Thomsen, Sheehan and, bizarrely, Foy, are all horribly under-used.

The script is extremely dull throughout – there's only one line of enjoyably cheesy dialogue (“We're gonna need more holy water!”), which again, only serves to remind you of the film it could have been with a judicious script rewrite. Similarly, the plot somehow manages to be both boring and preposterous at the same time and you also (correctly, as it turns out) suspect that the entire film has had a bit of a rough time in the editing room.

The Worse
The film spends so long getting to the action-packed finale (featuring flying zombie monks, no less) that the sudden onslaught of flashy effects sequences seems like overkill. There are also some bizarre decisions in the casting and make-up departments – for example, why cast Christopher Lee if you're going to cover him in so much pustule-based make-up as to make him unrecognisable?

However, the biggest problem is that Cage is on boring auto-pilot throughout and doesn't deliver any of the expected Cage-isms (shouting, weird lines, odd mannerisms) that can turn a bad movie into a good bad movie. He does have a terrible wig but that's more or less a given.

Worth seeing?
This is a huge disappointment, thanks to a poor script, choppy direction, dismal dialogue and lacklustre performances. Shame.

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Content updated: 20/07/2018 21:34

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