There’s something about good ol’ Nick Cage, and it’s that he’s just not a fantasy kinda guy. And Season of the Witch, which opened here recently, proved me right on all counts.
Set sometime during the Crusades, Season of the Witch casts Cage and Ron Perlman (who was THE Hellboy) as disillusioned knights co-opted to transport a witch (played by Claire Foy) purportedly responsible for the Black Death to a distant monastery, where she’s supposed to be stripped off her witchy powers.
Predictably, Cage and Ron are joined by a band of hackneyed characters – the fresh face rube, the old has-been, the typical dour faced cleric, and a sneaky rogue type fellow.
In RPG (Role-playing Game) terms, Season of the Witch is essentially a glorified escort quest, and our party of adventurers appear to be haphazardly thrown together, quite possibly so they can be killed in a variety of silly ways.
Even the ending, with its big, hellfire and brimstone reveal, seemed trite and entirely too expected.
See, I’m normally all for fantasy stories, especially those with a strong supernatural bent, but Season of the Witch was a real disappointment.
First off, the acting was lackluster.
Having watched Cage shamble around in a trench coat, doing the wizard thing in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, I was actually hoping that picking up a sword and donning plate armor might lend him a little more character, but sad to say, his performance was only passable, and among the two leads, it was Ron Perlman who stole the show.
The supporting cast, too, was only adequate. They delivered their lines, sure, but proved mostly forgettable save for the witch. But then again, who doesn’t like witches?
Beyond these apparent flaws, Season of the Witch also failed on other counts.
While the director had, at least, managed to convey a sense of bleakness and despair with his portrayal of the-stricken city and countryside, the abject lack of actual spellcasting, and the magical elements, which were somewhat downplayed until the very end, dampened things a fair bit.
The witch’s tricks were kinda cheap (as in visually cheap), and many other matters defied conventional arcane wisdom (it’s a well known fact that the Key of Solomon summons, rather than banishes demons, for example, and not vice versa).
Ultimately, by the time Nick’s band of greatly depleted adventurers hit the final encounter, I was almost half asleep with boredom.
In summation, watch this film only if you’re a die hard Nicholas Cage fan, or don’t care much for the film’s numerous pitfalls.
If you’re a true, blue fantasy fan though, you’d probably want to avoid it like the plague.