Movie Review - Season of the Witch

BY ROBERT HAMMERLE, guest contributor to Hammervision


The worst thing about acknowledging that you have actually paid money to see Nicholas Cage in "Season of the Witch" is the mountain of ridicule that will follow that revelation. Not only do I expect it, I clearly deserve it. So in the immortal words of Pat Benatar, "Hit me with your best shot."

To begin with, let me simply damn "Season of the Witch" with faint praise. The good news is that it is not annoyingly puerile like "Little Fockers." On the other hand, it is truthfully nothing at all. Quite frankly, it is the functional equivalent of going to a sophomoric masquerade party where everyone has to dress like medieval crusaders only to discover that they don't serve alcohol.

To the extent that it matters to anyone, Nicholas Cage and Ron Perlman play two tired 13th Century crusaders who decide to quit the game when they belatedly become weary of killing women and children. Dressed in ridiculous sackcloth, armed with swords and a bit of a rediscovered moral conscience, they encounter the outbreak of plague as they travel through medieval Europe.

A cardinal of a Catholic Church (an unrecognizable Christopher Lee suffering the physical debilitations of a late stage plague attack), enlists them to transport a suspected witch to a faraway abbey to determine if she is the evil source of mankind's infliction. The rest of the movie involves the adventures of Cage, Perlman and several sidekicks on their journey through narrow mountain passes and a wolf infested forest. Yippee!

While the less said about "Season of the Witch" is clearly the better, one does need to note Mr. Cage's unfortunate penchant for taking roles where he plays crazed, one-dimensional characters in movies of little or no merit. Think of "Gone in 60 Seconds" (2000); "The National Treasure" movies (2004 & 2007); "Ghost Rider" (2007); "Bangkok Dangerous" (2008) and the gut wrenchingly horrible "Knowing" (2009). Whatever happened to the actor who won an Oscar for "Leaving Las Vegas" (1995), not to mention the one who was so enjoyable in "Adaptation" (2002) and the completely overlooked "Lord of War" (2005)? Are his rumored financial difficulties so dire that he has to take any role simply to pay his bevy of creditors?

It should also be noted that the Catholic Church takes a beating in this ridiculous film. Priest are shown hanging young women for being suspected witches and church leaders are portrayed as little more than devotees of black 

magic. It is a testament to how inconsequential this film is that the Vatican has not even taken the time to condemn it.

All fans of the cinema know that January and February of any year are an entertainment dead-zone. This is a time when studios release mendacious entertainment generally starring the likes of Adam Sandler and Ashton Kutcher in the hopes of making a quick buck on the opening weekend before the film disappears to DVD. "Season of the Witch" is the first film to be released in January, 2011, so enough said.

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