Movie Review: Season of the Witch
Ah, the sacrifices I make for you, my beloved reader. I was all set to go see the Green Hornet and review it Friday night, but the fact is the girl I am seeing kind of likes sci fi and I am hoping to bring her to see it next week. My next plan was to stay at home and play WOW all night (somehow my WOW character has a more fulfilling social life than I do IRL) and paint miniatures, but it occurred to me that there is another movie out there firmly ensconced in the nerd genre for good or ill, Season of the Witch. Since I have plans this Tuesday (my normal bad movie night with cheap tickets) I figured what the hell.
By they way, I am one of those creepy guys who goes to the movies by himself and sits there looking disheveled and gives people the stink eye for having friends in the place. My demeanor and appearance is completely different when I have people with me, but if not you probably wouldn’t want to sit near me, which actually suits me fine.
I was kind of hoping it would really suck in the Ed Wood style so that I could have really panned it in a very humorous way, but it was disappointingly mediocre. Nothing really bad, with nothing really good. Definitely not worth the $10.50 I paid at full price, but probably worth the $5 I would have spent on Tuesday.
Nicholas Cage runs either liquid nitrogen or superheated plasma when he acts, and this one is of the nitrogen movies. I don’t even think it a case of good or bad acting so much as he can really only play two roles, comedic Three Stooges-ish moron like Raising Arizona or sort-of decent action hero with the noblest intentions a la the Rock. The only roll I can think of that diverges from these two was muscle bound criminal leader in Kiss of Death. I think I like that movie just because it was different. The question becomes whether the particular role is suited to one of his characters and, alas, this one is not.
He plays a disenchanted knight who bails out of the Crusades after an argument with a priest about killing a bunch of women and children. This movie script bent steel bars in order to be as politically correct as possible, but I would give it a D+ for cultural sensitivity with regards to Muslims as the first 15 minutes seems to be nothing but slaughtering the Moors who fight back with the effectiveness of a minor breaking of wind. Also, for some reason the fight scenes in the Middle East had absolutely no horses, in spite of horses all over the European scenes. I suspect that this movie suffered for somewhat limited budget, and when they were on location in the desert couldn’t afford the animals. There were other examples of limited budget later on. Anyway, he and his buddy Felson (Ron Perlman, whom I actually like), after a montage of repetitive battle scenes and whore packed parties, bail out and sneak back to Europe.
Once there, they get arrested by the church for desertion but are offered a chance at redemption if they agree to transport a girl accused of being a witch who caused a horrible plague 400 leagues (1200 miles, which he claims to be able to do in four days pulling a wagon. 30 seconds of research is what it took me to find out how long a league actually is. Lazy screenplay writers annoy me) to a monastery where she can be cured, hung, and drowned in that order. Cage doesn’t want to work for the church anymore so they throw him into prison where he meet the witch who might be cute if she had a shower but spent most of the movie looking like a wet terrier. He gets a noble hair up his ass and agrees to transport her if she were to be given a fair trial. In my mind this is less noble than it sounds as most medieval witch trials involved throwing a girl in water and seeing if she drowned, but he seemed to have the idea that there would be a judge, prosecutor, and defense attorney.
Anyway, they stick her in a cage on wheels and are joined by a priest, an older knight, and a squire (sounds like a bad joke starting) whom I will refer to as Father Abusive, Captain Deadmeat, and Lieutenant Teenie Bopper Sex Appeal. They also recruit a swindler as a guide, but as he doesn’t really conform to any bad movie stereotype I will not award him a name. I will point out that he is the sensible one as he comes up with the only plan that really makes sense. He starts out feeling like he could be the movie comedy relief but manages to avoid doing anything funny or cool.
Medieval road trip hijinx ensue. Captain Deadmeat, after an abortive attempt to add a much needed backstory about his dead daughter and family, meets his end. Throughout the trip the script wavers back and forth between the girl being an actual witch or an innocent girl wrongfully accused. I say the script wavers back and forth, but really it’s Cage’s character. The evidence that she actually is a witch is so overwhelming that even to OJ jury would have convicted her, yet somehow he is gung ho for a fair trial up until the moment she manages to summon up a possessed wolf pack. How many teenage girls can catch a girly man and lift him back on a bridge with one hand? More characters die, and they end up confronting the movie budget limitations again in the form of some really bad CGI. Seriously, Jar Jar Binks looked more real. I guess the last couple years of amazing special effects have spoiled me, but i think if they had just dropped a few of the seemingly hundreds of pus-ridden plague corpses they probably could have spent a few more bucks and brought the CGI up a couple notches into the decent zone. They might have been able to rent horses for the first part of the movie as well.
Anyway, the stars. Nichols Cage. one star. Ron Perlman. One star. Very linear story that did not require me to think much. One star. Costumes and sets were decent, with no tire track in evidence. One star. They didn’t make the girl super hot, which is to it’s credit. One star. Physical makeup, in the form of horrific plague victims, was actually really good. One star. Zombie-like villains show up towards the end. One star. Some of the sword fight action was decent (although I swear at one point I saw Lieutenant Teenie Bopper Sex Appeal swing his sword by the blade. No joke). One star. Total: eight stars.
Now the black holes. One black hole for each horribly predictable stereotypical character death. Three black holes. No character development or backstory of any kind. One black hole. No attempt to maintain the language of the time (the language was, for the most part, so modern and American that it might as well have been the Rock, except that Sean Connery had an accent). One black hole. Very mediocre CGI. One black hole. Bad bridge collapsing scene that defied the the laws of physics as well as failing to fulfill any need in the movie. One black hole. At one point Cage is literally deflecting crossbow bolts with a broadsword. One black hole. Net total: eight black holes.
So we get a straight zero. Not horrible, not good. This one should definitely not even to on your NetFlix list but rather wait until it hits NetFlix streaming. Something tells me you won’t have to wait long.
I just realized I totally screwed up last post and, while I answered the OCP versus Umbrella Corporation question, did not post a new one. I’m pretty sure I was in a hurry for something. If you are one of the few who like them I apologize. If you are one of the majority who think they are lame, then you are welcome. For today I offer the Battle of the Clawed Hands. Who would win, Wolverine Vrs Freddy Kruegar?
(Wolverine image courtesy of the Wolverine t shirts)