Season of the Witch (Blu-ray)
SEASON OF THE WITCH isn’t a very good movie. As a matter of fact, the film is poorly made. From the pacing to the uneven story and characters, it would not be inaccurate to call it a train wreck. I am usually someone who enjoys a good train wreck, especially a medieval story with sword fighting, knights, and witchcraft. But this isn’t one of those guilty pleasures.
This is the story of two knights who have deserted the Crusades. As they are traveling home they realize that their home country has been riddled by a terrible plague. When they are discovered and arrested for deserting the cause, they are given a choice. The two men can either be convicted of desertion (and receive the summary judgment and execution that entails) or they can take another job for the church – to take a girl to a monastery where she will be tried as a witch.
Behmen, played by Nicolas Cage, is the moral center of our story. He and Felson, ably played by the enigmatic Ron Perlman, are conflicted about taking this charge from the church given all that they have already been asked to do in the name of god. The film relies on clichés like “the crusades were bad” and “the church is greedy.” This would be fine if the script took us into some intimate moments and really showed us WHY this is, instead of just saying that it is so. But even here the movie fails to drive home the point in a meaningful way.
I should not expect more than this, I suppose, from the man behind GONE IN 60 SECONDS (also with Cage) and SWORDFISH. But Director Dominic Sena, for his faults, has at least put together some interesting action sequences in his past films. But here things just don’t come together. The extra features (see below) provided some background into why the pacing is so uneven. The finished film can be split into three sections – 1) The Crusades, 2) The Journey, and 3) The Final Battle. Yes, the final battle is THAT long. In this movie that would be a good thing… if it was the least bit interesting. The Crusades section, which opens the film and tries to give us that moral grounding, wasn’t added until after the first screenings and it feels disjointed with the rest of the film. The battle scenes are ably done, but they lack fun.
The only thing that actually works throughout the movie is the relationship between Behmen and Felson. But even this is one sided, with Perlman nurturing the relationship but receiving little in return from Cage, who is at his Nic Cagey-ist in this picture.
Overall I was pretty disappointed in this movie despite having pretty low expectations going in. If you love Nicolas Cage or Ron Perlman, you’ll receive little gratification here. I suggest instead sticking with Cage in CON AIR or THE ROCK, and Perlman in SONS OF ANARCHY on FX.
Video: (1080p 1.78:1 Widescreen) A very nice looking presentation. The green/grey tones come across nicely on a larger television. I did notice that on smaller sets it’s hard to see many of the night sequences.
Audio: (English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Francais 5.1 Dolby Digital) The audio is done very well, it’s a nice mix from the crusades to the pure monster film ending.
Becoming the Demon: (8:29) A look behind the scenes describing how the monster in this feature was created and added into the scenes.
On a Crusade: (6:07) A short explanation of the crusade sequence that opens the film. This sequence was added after initial screenings noted a need for more clarification on the characters intentions and the need for more action. The scenes did add to the relationship between Cage and Perlman, but not enough to be worth it.
Alternate ending (9:20) This shows what the final scenes would have looked like if they hadn’t created “the demon.” It doesn’t work nearly as well as the CGI elements that made the final cut – and in a movie this poorly made that’s saying something.