Nicholas Cage is kind of going through a weird time right now. I remember years ago when him being in a movie was a sign of the movie being at least some kind of quality. Then, at some point, it turned into the realization that these films weren’t actually good…just guilty pleasures. And then they became less pleasurable and, save for the National Treasure movies, Cage became kind of a joke, with his unusual hair pieces and his wacky roles and seeming inability to say no to a paycheck, regardless of the quality of movie.
January is typically a breeding ground for mediocre or awful movies, so it seems appropriate that the newest Cage vehicle, Season of the Witch, would be released in this month, given his history. But is it better than you’ve heard? Or another in a stream of bad Nic Cage flicks?
In Season of the Witch, two 14th century Crusaders, tired of the war and no longer a believer, travels across a land devastated by the Black Plague. The church thinks sorcery the culprit of the plague and asks 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 swindler and an alter boy who wants to become a knight join the mission, but is the girl actually a witch? Or just an innocent young girl fighting for her freedom?
I’ve got to admit that I had REALLY low expectations for Season of the Witch. My wife wanted to see the film…which is never a good sign. Previous wife-choices include Battlefield Earth, Stigmata, and Mission to Mars…all of which I hate. She hated them too – it’s just that she has a habit of wanting to see movies that ultimately suck. Season of the Witch seemed like it would continue the trend.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that Season of the Witch is a great movie. But it doesn’t suck. It’s, unfortunately, an incredibly uneven movie though. The film starts epicly, as we watch Cage and Perlman battle through years of the Crusades in a matter of minutes. It sets a high bar for the film that it never comes back to. Once they are tasked with the transport of the witch though, the film slows down. It’s never boring, but it’s not a high adventure action piece. In fact, save for a few very short moments, there’s not much action in the film until the last twenty minutes or so.
Spoilers on from here on out….
As soon as it’s revealed what the true nature of the “witch” is, the film goes downhill. Now I know people have been giving positive reviews to the film because of its very Army of Darkness-ish climax, but I gotta say…the poor special effects during it took me out of the moment. Had the final creature not been rendered via CGI, I think I’d have walked away from the experience much happier. It’s not a bad ending per se, it just feels a little cartoonish after the more serious first 70 minutes or so.
I can’t recommend running out to see Season of the Witch, but I can say that it’s worth the watch, maybe on DVD or on cable. It’s got a decent premise, and some genuinely good banter between Nic Cage and Ron Perlman, and some decent direction from Dominic Sena (director of Swordfish, Gone in Sixty Seconds, and Whiteout). A decent film with Nic Cage … who’da thunk?