After a long and brutal career of killing for God (which ends in the spilling of innocent blood), two weary knights, Behmen and Felson defect and head home only to find that the lands have been overrun by The Black Plague. When the two men are recognized by guards, they’re given an ultimatum; die or make one more journey for the Church. Reluctantly, the two knights agree to escort the witch believed to be the cause of the plague to a temple in the mountains where the monks will take away her powers and cure the lands.
I’ve always found the idea of the crusades entertaining. Killing hundreds of people by day followed by boozing and women by night sounds like good times but I somehow doubt that’s what God intended. I would have given anything to sit at King Arthur’s round table if I’d lived in those times but this film is definitely not what I think Knighthood is all about. Be that as it may, I dug where this story was going with the book of Solomon but not only did it fail to build on a cool concept, they made it very hard to fully understand who was in the right and who was in the wrong. I know there’s always supposed to be a lingering doubt or two but it just seemed like they couldn’t make up their minds here, are the clergy good or evil, are any of the suspected girls witches or not? It all comes to light by the end of course but I still think the character progression was sloppy.
Now speaking of the characters, they certainly didn’t give us much fat to chew on. Nick Cage and Ron Perlman are your typical soldier types down to the last clichéd detail. I loved the camaraderie and dialogue between them (though some of the one liners were weak and lazy) but what I hated was the all too obvious setup of events leading to a predictable ending. On that note, I hope none of the people who own the rights to THE LORD OF THE RINGS watch this flick because this is a blatant Fellowship knockoff (a pitiful excuse for one when compared to LOTR). And I know this one is obvious, but did we really need that bridge bit? Why is there always a rickety bridge and why in hell did we need to waste ten to fifteen minutes with it when we all know what’s going to happen?
I don’t like to knit-pick but I have to mention the CGI because it was terrible. God help me, but the wolves in TWILIGHT looked far better than these ones. Don’t get me wrong, the wolves were fine until they added the “demonic face stretch” which begs the question, why add it? Wolves look crazy enough in the dark woods with their teeth bared, hell, make their eyes glow if you want to but don’t add children’s effects that a sixth grader would scoff at. The monks at the end were cool looking and I have to say that the whole bubble liquid thing that happened when they were beheaded was also cool which only makes the craptacular final vision of the witch/demon all that much more underwhelming. Remember JEEPERS CREEPERS (yes, the first one, I don’t like to acknowledge the sequel), how badass the monster looked at the end in full out winged demon form? Well, this looks nothing like that; it goes in opposite direction of cool and lands somewhere in the negatives. In a word, disappointing.
SEASON OF THE WITCH is not a film I went into with overly high expectations, not because it’s January or because this film’s first trailers came out over a year ago but simply because it looked like a straight to DVD half assed fantasy adventure starring a couple big names. I miss the Nicolas Cage from THE ROCK, CON AIR and GONE IN SIXTY SECONDS (which was directed by the same cat who directed this flick) but have come to terms with the new Nick Cage and therefore go into his films with a fifty-fifty frame of mind. I do however really dig Ron Perlman and not because of HELLBOY but because of my recent obsession with SONS OF ANARCHY (if you don’t know what that is, look it up and watch it, you’ll thank me later). I’m also a bit of a fantasy buff and anyone who knows the lay of the land when it comes to that genre knows we have to take what we can get. On that note, SEASON OF THE WITCH is watchable to be sure but no more than a rental. If you want a real fantasy flick that’s dark, ambition and an all out insane ride from start to finish, pick up SOLOMON KANE. Again, you’ll thank me later.