MRR Movie Review: Season of the Witch

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Movie Review: "Season of the Witch"

-- Rating: PG-13
Length: 95 minutes
Release Date: Jan. 7, 2011
Directed by: Dominic Sena
Genre: Action, Adventure

Nicholas Cage has a tendency to jump head first into every role he accepts, and he does that admirably in "Season of the Witch." Set in the fourteenth century, the film focuses on Behmen, played by Cage ("The Wicker Man"). Behmen is one of the Crusaders fighting for the Church of England, but he isn't happy with his lot in life. He and his friend Felson (Ron Perlman, "Hellboy") decide to abandon the military and seek a better life.

After stopping in a small village, they meet a group of monks that believes a young woman who recently appeared in town brought a plague with her. The two men agree to help the monks by leading a small group of men to a monastery. When they run into the mysterious woman, they discover that she might actually be a witch like the locals believe.

There are a few strong moments in "Season of the Witch," but those moments are few and far between. Both Cage and Perlman are strong actors who shine onscreen, but the two men seem to falter in this film. According to the storyline, the two spent more than a decade fighting beside each other, and viewers might expect the two to exchange witty banter. Instead of sharing a close relationship, the connection between the two feels forced at times, and Perlman frequently overacts in his scenes.

Cage has received his share of criticism in recent years. Many wondered if the actor simply agreed to take any role offered. However, he did shine in films such as "Kick-Ass," and he gets the chance to shine a few times in "Season of the Witch." The fun thing about Cage is that he can overact with the best actors in the world. He always seems to take things just a little too far, and in this film, he actually makes the script more entertaining. When he delivers a one-liner or talks a little too loudly, some in the audience might find themselves giggling and wondering if he did it intentionally.

Christopher Lee ("Lord of the Rings") portrays Cardinal D'Ambroise. Lee's character firmly believes the Black Plague swept through Europe because of one lone woman, and he convinces the other characters that the only way to end the suffering is to move the witch into a monastery. He explains to Cage's character that a religious jury will conduct a trial to determine what to do with her. Lee is a classically trained, award-winning actor who sinks his teeth into any role. In this film, he almost seems to know that viewers expect something campy, and he doesn't disappoint. His performance is so over-the-top and entertaining it stands out from other performances.

British actress Claire Foy ("White Heat") takes on the role of Anna, a woman who is either a terrible witch or a religious scapegoat. Foy is one of the few actors in the film that viewers will remember. She effortlessly transforms from a young woman who seems frightened of the world around her to a hard-nosed woman willing to take down anyone who stands in her way. Foy has a fiery side that comes across onscreen, and even when she shares scenes with a more experienced actor, she still manages to shine. As she jumps back and forth between victim and potential witch, viewers will be on the edge of their seats waiting to learn her true identity.

Those hoping for an accurate portrayal of the Crusades might find themselves disappointed with "Season of the Witch." The film introduces juries and trials, which didn't exist during that time period, and it frequently mentions events that didn't occur during the timeline of the Crusades. The costumes are also historically inaccurate, mixing and matching pieces from different eras and groups.

While "Season of the Witch" is far from one of the best films of recent years, it does have entertaining moments. The film plays like a sci-fi television film with a larger budget, and it has a few humorous moments and enjoyable scenes. Those moments encourage viewers to focus strictly on the plot and ignore some of the historical flaws and poor performances. "Season of the Witch" is a mystery that will keep viewers guessing until the last few minutes.

Rating 3 out of 5 stars