×

Season of the Witch

Both overblown and undercooked, "Season of the Witch" is a fine example of a film that would've been great fun if only its creators had a sense of humor about the wild brew of absurdity they had percolating.

With:
Behmen - Nicolas Cage Felson - Ron Perlman Debelzaq - Stephen Campbell Moore The Girl - Claire Foy Hagamar - Stephen Graham Eckhart - Ulrich Thomsen Kay - Robert Sheehan Cardinal D'Ambroise - Christopher Lee

Both overblown and undercooked, “Season of the Witch” is a fine example of a film that would’ve been great fun if only its creators had a sense of humor about the wild brew of absurdity they had percolating. Up until a howler of a third act, this supernatural period-actioner is too inert for midnight-movie schadenfreudists, and not nearly competent enough for even the most forgiving of fantasy fans. Lack of much new competition could provide a modest opening weekend, but there’s not enough witchcraft in the world to keep this one afloat for long.

If nothing else, one must applaud the moxie of the 14th century-set film’s historical revisionism: Not only do onscreen titles place famous Crusades sieges like the Battle of Artah more than two centuries after they actually took place, but director Dominic Sena may have also made the first film about medieval witch trials to side solidly with the priests who condemned peasant girls to death.

A tired-looking Nicolas Cage and a game Ron Perlman star as Crusader buddies Behmen and Felson — first seen in a lightning-fast succession of poorly CGI’ed Holy Land battles, later to desert in disgust after Behmen accidentally kills a bystander. Quickly captured in a nearby plague-ravaged village, they’re enlisted by a dying cardinal (Christopher Lee, unrecognizable under pounds of prosthetic buboes) to lead a ragtag party escorting a waifish young girl (Claire Foy) suspected of dark arts to a remote monastery, where her trial and exorcism will hopefully end the plague.

Strange goings-on and conflicts necessarily arise along the way — with a wolf attack showcasing some very dodgy prop work — as the accused witch reveals herself to be quite clearly guilty as charged. Decent mileage is wrung from a nicely paced crossing over a rickety wooden bridge, which adds almost nothing to the plot but actually delivers a good hit of tension. Otherwise, the journey is a swollen slog, leaving the film DOA until the final third, with a final battle sequence that echoes “Army of Darkness” in everything but the wink and nudge.

Anachronistic dialogue and strange accent choices are something of a given in midrange fantasy films, but “Season of the Witch” nonetheless manages to distinguish itself in this regard. At times Perlman and Cage affect stagy Britishisms, while at others they spew such phrases as “They must’ve jumped the fence” like proper Americans; and bonafide Brit Stephen Graham’s character is inexplicably given to lapse into the patois of an old-timey Brooklyn newsboy.

Lensed in some beautiful locations across Austria and Hungary, “Witch’s” photography, costumes and production design are of good quality; editing, scoring and visual effects are most decidedly not.

Season of the Witch

Production: A Relativity Media release of a Rogue presentation of an Atlas Entertainment and Relativity Media production. Produced by Charles Roven, Alex Gartner. Executive producers, Ryan Kavanaugh, Alan G. Glazer, Steve Alexander, Tom Karnowski, Tucker Tooley. Co-producer, Gloria Fan. Directed by Dominic Sena. Screenplay, Bragi Schut Jr.

Crew: Camera (Technicolor prints), Amir Mokri; editors, Mark Helfrich, Dan Zimmerman; music, Atli Orvarsson; production designer, Uli Hanisch; supervising art director, Kai Koch; set decorator, Monica Rottmeyer; costume designer, Carlo Poggioli; sound (Dolby/SDDS), Mac Ruth; supervising sound editor, Scott Martin Gershin; re-recording mixers, Kevin O'Connell, Beau Borders; special effects supervisor, Paul Stephenson; visual effects supervisor, Viktor Mueller; assistant director, Craig Pinckes; second unit director, Tom Struthers; casting, Elaine Grainger. Reviewed at Clarity screening room, Beverly Hills, Jan. 5, 2011. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 95 MIN.

With: Behmen - Nicolas Cage Felson - Ron Perlman Debelzaq - Stephen Campbell Moore The Girl - Claire Foy Hagamar - Stephen Graham Eckhart - Ulrich Thomsen Kay - Robert Sheehan Cardinal D'Ambroise - Christopher Lee

More Film

  • Ford v Ferrari

    Oscars: 31 Upcoming Films That Could Enter the Awards Race

    The year reaches the halfway mark on June 30, and traditionally films from the first six months have an uphill battle in the Oscar race. However, this year’s January-June crop might get a boost from the accelerated schedule: Nominations voting is a tight Jan. 2-Jan. 7, 2020. So if voters start their homework now, early [...]

  • Yesterday Movie Danny Boyle

    Danny Boyle on 'Yesterday,' Leaving 'Bond 25' and Why the Beatles Still Rock

    Danny Boyle would like to reintroduce you to the Beatles. The iconic foursome certainly needs no introduction, but in his movie “Yesterday,” which debuts June 28, the director envisions a word where nobody has heard of John, Paul, George and Ringo. That is, nobody besides Jack Malik. When the struggling songwriter, portrayed by newcomer Himesh [...]

  • Svensk Filmindustri SF Studios logo

    Warner Bros, SF Studios Expand Distribution Deal Across Scandinavia

    Warner Bros. Pictures has expanded its distribution deal with SF Studios to include Sweden and have their movies released by the Nordic major through all of Scandinavia. Warner Bros. Pictures already has a distribution pact with SF Studios in Denmark, Norway and Finland. Under the partnership, SF Studios has been handling the sales, marketing and [...]

  • Nicole Kidman Meryl Streep

    Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman to Star in Ryan Murphy's 'The Prom' at Netflix

    Ryan Murphy enlisted a star-studded cast for his upcoming Netflix movie “The Prom,” an adaptation of the Tony-nominated Broadway musical. Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, Awkwafina, James Corden, Ariana Grande, Keegan-Michael Key and Andrew Rannells are among the A-listers bringing “The Prom” to screens. “The Prom” follows a lesbian student in the fictional conservative town of [...]

  • Viktor Dvorak, Anna Geislerova Join Vaclav

    Viktor Dvorak, Anna Geislerova Join Václav Havel Biopic

    Viktor Dvorak has been cast in “Havel,” a biopic of Václav Havel, as the Czech playwright, dissident and national leader. Anna Geislerova, who starred in Oscar nominated “Zelary,” plays his wife, Olga Havlova. Jiri Bartoska, the president of Karlovy Vary Film Festival, will appear in the film as “Professor,” inspired by Czech philosopher Jan Patocka. [...]

  • Daniel Craig

    'Bond 25' First Footage Sees Daniel Craig Back as 007

    After suffering a series of setbacks, including finding a new director and Daniel Craig’s on-set injury, “Bond 25” production is officially underway. A new behind-the-scenes clip of the upcoming James Bond film features Craig and helmer Cary Joji Fukunaga at work in the Caribbean. The minute-long footage didn’t reveal much about the still-untitled movie, though [...]

  • (L to R) Marco Graf as

    ‘Roma,’ ‘The Good Girls’ Top Mexico’s Ariel Academy Awards

    The Mexican Academy of Arts and Cinematographic Sciences hosted the 61st edition of their Ariel Awards on Monday evening, where Alfonso Cuarón’s “Roma” and Alejandra Márquez Abella’s “The Good Girls” stood out among the winners. Perhaps the most surprising thing about Cuarón’s “Roma” scooping best picture is that it’s only the second of his films to [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content