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Season of the Witch


Puts the evil in medieval

Rod Lott July 7th, 2011

When Lionsgate — aka the House of "Saw" — decides to dump a movie, you have to wonder just how bad it stinks. After quite a delay, the orphaned "Season of the Witch" found a home with Rogue, and promptly did next to no business in theaters.

seasonofthewitch

Thing is, it's not that bad. Nicolas Cage's perm, however, is another story.

Set in 1334 A.D., “Season” centers on best-bud knights Behmen (Cage) and Felson (Ron Perlman, "Hellboy"), who tire of sticking their swords into innocent women and children in the so-called name of God, so they quit. No sooner have they hung up their armor than they're summoned by a tumor-faced cardinal (Christopher Lee — I know that's you under all those pus-filled bubbles!) who asks them to chaperone a witch. Not to prom, but to an abbey where monks are in possession of the last copy of an ancient book of rituals that will destroy her power and, therefore, the plague.

With one of the cardinal's chosen knights and a priest accompanying them, Behmen and Felson wheel the young, beautiful, would-be witch (Claire Foy, TV's "Upstairs Downstairs") in a cage toward their destination, encountering obstacles all along the way, like hungry wolves.

Although "Season" takes too long to get spicy, there's a nice sequence that involves moving the witch wagon across your typical rickety rope-and-wood bridge stretched perilously over a canyon. The third act puts a supernatural spin on the events, but viewers' patience might have worn too thin by then to reach that point.

Dominic Sena ("Whiteout," "Swordfish," "Gone in 60 Seconds") directs with his usual slick, but unsubstantial style. A lesser budget than he's been used to in the past means the effects aren't as seamless, which cheapens the overall feeling, but with Cage overacting for every penny of his paycheck, that may be for the better.

With an open mind, "Season" may entertain for a night, in the same way a McChicken Sandwich may hit the spot for a dinner. To further get bang for your buck, craft your own medieval double feature by pairing it with the recent, similar and superior "Black Death." —Rod Lott


 
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