Season of the Witch (2011) Poster

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Not as bad as the critics say it is...Cage seems to care
ManBehindTheMask6314 January 2011
Season of the witch was a far better film than critics and fellow moviegoers led me to believe. The story is about Cage and Pearlman teaming up to take a witch to a castle where she will be put on trial. Chaos and terror ensue as they treck the mountainside and forest. The film depicts the times very well...and most the accents aren't that bad. But the thing i wasn't expecting was to see Cage actually put some effort into his role. Instead of woodenly walking through the film with terrible hair, Cage shows some true emotion and his hair ain't half bad. Cage is hit or miss, sometimes he's good ("Bad Lieutenant"), sometimes he's bad ("The Knowing"). I think Cage gets an A for effort. It's no his best acting but it's an improvement. Pearlman is great as the sidekick/friend and gets most of the good lines. The special effects are kinda lame and the film drags in certain spots, but overall "Season of the witch" is a decent thriller with some cheesy dialouge. This movie isn't bad as everyone makes it out to be. If you have low expectations like I did, you'll probably get a lot more enjoyment out of it.

Oh, and the priest named De Balzak...pretty hysterical name.
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nonsensical and unsatisfying ending ruins the film
Two Gun11 January 2011
Nic Cage is becoming the master of these kinds of movies. I'm not talking supernatural thrillers, I'm talking films that themematically start out a certain way and then flip in to the land of complete crap somewhere along the way. (The recent film "Knowing" springs to mind as an example) As the film progressed, I thought it was interesting, albeit far darker then I was expecting. By the end, the story spins off to freaky land and beyond. A movie you think could be directed towards exploring religious fanaticism or even faith itself instead spins in to a supernatural clusterflub of demons and stupidity. The ending and terrible direction absolutely ruins what was a pretty good first two-thirds of a movie. What makes this twice as bad is the fact that it's a "journey" film, meaning that everything that was set up leads to the resolution. In this case, the resolution is nonsensical and unsatisfying and negates just about anything good about the first two-thirds of its running time.
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4/10
Not so good
zekersdp17 January 2011
I was excited to see the Season of the Witch. I loved The Scorceror's Apprentice, and I actually thought this would be better than that. Looking forward to an epic fantasy, I was highly disappointed. I found myself annoyed at the unnatural behavior of Nicholas Cage and Ron Perlman. It was like watching Starsky and Hutch with their witty bantering during battles and in the face of peril. Very cheesy. The movie lacked a good flow. It was mildly entertaining in parts, but never reached any peak, not even at the end, because it was just too absurd. The acting was not good, but I think it was just a poorly written script more than anything else. It seems like it had the makings of a very good movie, but fell very very short.
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8/10
How legends start (mild spoilers)
Fred_Paris4 July 2012
Warning: Spoilers
So after getting back from the crusades and coming back to find Europe ravaged by the black plague (with a bit of a time warp there), a couple of crusader veterans get sucked into escorting a suspected witch to a remote monastery so that she can be put on trial.

I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that the usual "Hollywoodisms" were absent (dirt, toothless peasants, etc.). People were just normal, as you'd currently find in any remote place nowadays. Costumes, weaponry and armour were reasonable for the period. As was the character's attitude.

However what I really liked about the film wasn't so much the settings, or the fact that we get to wonder whether the girl is a witch or not, or the special effects or whatever, it was the fact that the story was told from the point of view of the "legend". Whatever happened to the people who went to the monastery, only one came back. And this is his tale. And this is pretty much how tales ended up being told at the time (at least after a few tellings). And we get to experience it in the first person, just like they were told. Except with our modern gadgets. See it that way and this film is a complete success (ok, the accents are wrong, but whatever).

So just imagine you're a wide eyed child in 1400, sitting by the fire, and an old guy is going to tell you a tale that he swears is true, for he knows a guy, who actually met someone who heard it from the very knight it happened to...
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9/10
Enjoyable B-Movie Popcornfest
bunnystyck7 January 2011
I walked out of the theater so thrilled to have spent my money on a Nicholas Cage movie. Its not often that happens.

I heard from a unenthusiastic review (one of numerous scathing reviews out there, as anyone with the internet can tell) about the on screen shenanigans with Nick Cage and Ron Perlman were so enjoyable that it made the rest of the movie bearable. Going in with that anticipation, I found myself not only pulled into their characters' fun and convincing friendship but also into an intense and yes even edge-of-your-seat suspenseful movie. I forgot about my troubles for the day and enjoyed a good adventure.

It was inspired, yes, by DnD, video games, and a number of other swords and sorcery books and movies that preceded it, but it is its own story. In a market saturated with sequels, prequels, reboots, comicbook diarrhea, etc... it's nice to see a story that is it's own, however simple.

Yes it plays by the numbers. You know guys will die. Hell, you probably know who and in what order, if you've seen movies of it's ilk. You know there is a supernatural bad guy. And you know there will be one liners, oh are there ever one-liners! But the characters are fun to watch, even a little engaging. You may not want to see them die. I didn't. They weren't a group of scum with a bullseye for heraldry. The enemy was threatening and tricky, a real danger to our protagonists. And the one liners were, gasp, funny! Yes, even Nicholas Cage is worth the price of admission here. If this was "just another paycheck" role for him, he looked like he was having a lot of fun with this roll. And I don't know about you, but I like to see my actors have fun in a movie that costs me 9-12 bucks to see..

It looses some points with me for the CGI. obvious CGI is obvious. But honestly the crispy gray CGI contrasting against a darker, colorful, moody lighting STILL didn't detract from the encounters or the climax. If you come to the movies to have CGI convince you that magic and demons are real, you come to the movies for jaded and asinine reasons. If you wanna see pretty visuals with a meandering pointless story, go see Tron.

But if you wanna see a fun yet dark heroic adventure, go see Season of the Witch!
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8/10
I enjoyed
sue25639 January 2011
The movie was entertaining. I thought the acting of Cage and Perlman specifically and a few of the others was not up to par. If you do a period piece you should act and sound like it rather than sound like you are just hanging out in LA. The casting could have been better. I really enjoy all things medieval. The plot was good, the scenery was great. All in all it was a good way to spend a few hours. To all the Cage fans - I generally enjoy him, I just don't feel that he and this part were meant to be. During some parts of the film, the acting was actually rather comical although I don't believe it was meant to be so. If you like period piece, especially those set during medieval times, you won't be disappointed.
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5/10
A Nutshell Review: Season of the Witch
DICK STEEL8 January 2011
Season of the Witch is getting ravaged by reviews as I write this. Is it that bad? I don't think so. Is it fantastic then? Well no. This is one of those sword and sandal fantasy films that tread the middle ground, having an interesting premise set up in a fantasy fellowship quest, only for the execution to be hovering around mediocre standards following a rote formula of introducing the problem, gathering the players, and have them encounter sequence after sequence of battle obstacles on the way to their objective.

Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman play buddies Behman and Felson respectively, knights of the Crusade who make a reputation of being fearsome warriors fighting for a higher cause, only to desert their army and turning their backs from continuing onto Jerusalem after realizing that they are nothing but fighting pawns for the whims of man. Their services get called for by a town inflicted by a plague because of a curse by a girl (Claire Foy) whom they deem a witch, and the agreement forged was for them to escort her to a monastery for a group of monks to decide on the authenticity of the claim, and if so, decide and inflict punishment.

Gathering Priest Debelzag (Stephen Campbell Moore), guide Hegamar (Stephen Graham), one of the remaining fighting fit soldiers of the town with Eckhart (Ulrich Thomsen) and a priest in training Kay (Robert Sheehan) whom the party picked up early in their journey, the group has to band together if they are to get to their destination in one piece, with the accused girl being locked up in a cage but always seem to be drawing undue attention to herself, raising questions about her innocence as we get to see her demonstrate abilities and superhuman strength even, while putting on a saccharine sweet face. Now while all these may point to certain plot loopholes and irrational human behaviour, I'm willing to overlook these flaws since they do get addressed in the final reveal, so all's not totally lost in Bragi F. Schut's story.

Battle sequence design was a little sleepy, and although the introductory big battle scenes involving soldiers of the Crusade were plentiful, it didn't go beyond the usual slash-parry- stab-wash-rinse-repeat cycle coupled with cheesy dialogue exchange between Behman and Felson that try to pass off as comedy. There's an awfully long and painfully executed crossing of a creaky bridge that doesn't seem to want to end, but otherwise passable CG was employed in an attack of wolves, and the money shot in the final battle where all hell breaks loose in the monastery with grotesque looking winged beasts and the expected big boss to fight in an all out melee done arcade style.

Some will probably find the themes here quite objectionable, especially since it sets its sights squarely on how religion gets manipulated by the few, and made suggestive queries what if the Crusade wasn't a calling made by god as claimed by the messengers, but of more negative forces since it involves the killing of innocents. What more, this was played out in quite direct fashion when the final act made that cross-reference in point blank fashion. It's bold in its statement and association, which otherwise the story here lacks any selling points to make an audience sit up and take notice

I'm not sure what Ron Perlman is doing here - the billing on the poster doesn't seem to give him much respect, preferring to marquee Cage alone instead, so while there are inside nods to Hell and the devil and demons here, I'm hoping that we'll get to see another installment of Hellboy instead. Under Dominic Sena's vision, you'd know what to expect when you scan through his resume, being responsible for flicks like Whiteout, Swordfish, and yet another Nicolas Cage starrer in Gone in Sixty Seconds. They're no more than Guilt Trips with potential not lived up to, so don't expect a classic or a masterpiece, but at best entertainment that will struggle to satisfy jaded audiences.
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1/10
Worst script in years - *********** Spoiler alert *********
ciroa-951-34467422 March 2011
Warning: Spoilers
This is one of the worse scripts I've seen.

I just saw Quest for Fire. What a difference a script makes! We have a town that is going to judge three witches. Are these villagers going to be punished somehow for their injustice? No, people, witches actually exist. Why this first scene? To prepare the watcher for more cruelty without any sense. We cut to two crusaders under the lead of a murderer, whose only objective is to kill infidels. Well, you say, don't worry, the moral of the story is coming.

They take a girl to trial. For half an hour you expect the film to show how credulity should be despised, because, for the love of Pete, who's going to believe that you should burn a person for witchcraft? In a fantasy film, where characters have a purpose and our hero an objective, well... OK, but what's this? Don't trust on coherence. The sweet girl they see and that is going to be judged for causing a pest, well, yeah, it is actually a monster and it is really causing the disease. So, of course, you can stab, maim and kill without a hint of conscience.

There are too many flaws in the mind of the writer. Styria, part of Austria, becomes the cost of... Syria? I don't know. Jackrabbits exist in the middle ages. The conquest of Jerusalem is a fanatic race to kill the inhabitants. There is a fictitious battle of Edremit, a siege of Tripoli moved from 1102 to 1334, the battle of Imbros, which happened in 1717 is moved to 1337, the battle of Artah is also moved from 1101 to 1339, the Battle of Smyrna beats me... it can be the name of the 1922 Battle of independence of Ataturk... that happened in 1922. The last crusaders were expelled in 1291 in the name of Herodotus soul! These guys are fighting 50 years later. That's how good is the script, made probably with a map in the hand and a LOT of imagination.

Acting is good.

Do not waste your time in this movie, unless you like stories without coherence, nonsense killings, more than regular computer animated characters that say nothing and films where everybody is killed. It's a miracle that the director and cameramen weren't killed in this movie.
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7/10
A good film, marred by an ending that is over-reliant on special effects.
misbegotten8 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Season of the Witch has a long and troubled history: production took place in November 2008 and it was originally supposed to hit cinema screens both in the UK and America in March 2010, but it was pulled from release, sat in limbo for several months, and seemed likely to bypass cinemas altogether and be quietly dumped straight onto DVD. Instead, additional footage was shot in September 2010 amidst rumours of extensive re-editing, and eventually a new release date of 7th January 2011 was announced. Initially intended as a dark, medieval horror film (rated R in America), it had been re-conceived - and was marketed as - a PG13-rated period fantasy/action-adventure.

The movie's narrative is uncomplicated and relatively straight-forward: in the 14th century, veteran Crusaders Behmen and Felson (Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman) grow weary of being ordered by the Church to slaughter women and children whose only crime is not being born Christian. Deserting, they set off on the long journey home and eventually reach eastern Europe to find it stricken with plague. The Catholic authorities have found a scapegoat for the spread of the disease: a young woman (Claire Foy) whose 'confession' of being a witch they obtained via torture. Arrested for desertion, Behman and Felson are offered a full pardon if they will transport the girl to a remote monastery, where the resident monks will perform a ritual to strip her of her powers, enabling her to be killed and thus ending the plague.

While nothing about the movie is particularly remarkable or ground-breaking, the cast all acquit themselves as talented professionals and for most of it's running time Season of the Witch is an entertaining and watchable effort. There are a number of well-handled setpieces on the knights' journey that whittle down their travelling companions, such as an attack by ravenous wolves that transform into hellhounds, and a perilous passage over a collapsing bridge. And although the film doesn't dwell on the wide-reaching effects of the plague, the Crusaders encounter some grisly and impressive sights: hundred of crows (carrion eaters, remember) circling over a city; a dying Cardinal (a cameoing Christopher Lee) hideously deformed by the disease; a starving dog - it's body ridden with weeping sores - feasting on a corpse; an apparently lifeless village in which two inhabitants suddenly emerge to silently dump a body in the street, before retreating back inside; and an open mass grave full of liquefying cadavers. The movie also touches upon all the blood that has been shed in God's name and the blinkered arrogance of those who claim to be His representatives. Some of the characters also express doubts: is the girl truly a witch? Is her early escape attempt merely the action of a terrified young woman who - understandably - wants to avoid being executed? And even if she does possess supernatural powers, is she responsible for the plague?

But eventually the travelling party arrive at the monastery... and the film goes horribly wrong. All the moral uncertainties are abandoned and the movie becomes a disappointingly conventional struggle between clearly defined Good and Evil. The all-action climatic setpiece is marred by hectic and muddled editing. But worse of all is what happens to the title character. In the trailer that played in cinemas prior to the film's aborted release in early 2010, there were three shots taken from the movie's climax as it was clearly originally conceived, before the film was substantially reworked: Claire Foy walking straight towards the camera in close up as the caged wagon burns and melts into molten scrap behind her; her then levitating - spinning - through the air, over the heads of her captors; and finally Foy grabbing Nicolas Cage by the throat and slamming him against a wall. All those scenes are still in the film - but Foy is no longer in them. Instead, she's been digitally removed from the footage and replaced by a CGI monster. Yes, that's right - at the movie's conclusion, the witch transforms into an unimpressive seven-foot-tall CGI winged demon that looks as though it's wandered in from the final reel of The Golden Child (1986). Ugh. In my opinion it's unnecessary, misguided and a complete mistake. For example, I thought the 'levitation' shot in the original trailer looked stunning... but in the released film, Foy merely morphs into a dodgy special effect, then blandly flies away. It's hugely disappointing.

Hopefully the original ending, with the heroes battling a demonically-possessed Foy (as opposed to an enemy comprised entirely of pixels), will be included as an extra on the DVD. Even more ideally, I'd like to see a two disc set with the original director's cut on one disc and the theatrically-released version on the other, but it'll never happen.
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7/10
Season of the Witch: Spellbinding
paperback_wizard7 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
"Season of the Witch" is a genuinely suspenseful and thrilling start to the 2011 movie year. With a cast comprised of screen veterans and relative newcomers, this period piece about witchcraft and true nobility will keep you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end. After a gripping prologue which establishes that witches do, in fact, exist and can be quite deadly, the movie dives straight into the heart of the Crusades in the mid-14th Century, the stage for some of the bloodiest and most brutal battles in history; and also some of the greatest abuses of authority by the Christian church. Two knights, Behmen and Felson, played by Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman, enter the wars eager to fight at each other's side. However, as the horrors of war set in, the two become convinced that it would be better to desert and risk execution than continue the savage pursuit. It's a bit of a cliché, but director Dominic Sena handles it very well. The pair are eventually captured and brought to justice. However, the town in which they are arrested lies in the middle of a plague-stricken region. Even the local Cardinal, played by Christopher Lee, has fallen ill. He promises the knights they will be pardoned if they agree to help lift the curse he believes is the cause of the plague: a young woman accused of witchcraft must be taken to a monastery where certain rites must be performed that would end the curse. The girl, of course, would be executed. The errant knights have no desire to aid the church that has been the cause of so much suffering, but Behmen believes the girl's chances of a fair trial are much higher if they travel with her. It is not long before the small band of travelers encounters trouble, though, and even Behmen cannot ignore the likelihood that the girl is behind it all. As the young priest who accompanies them warns him, the girl will try to sow doubt and dissension in the minds of whomever comes close enough to hear her speak. Soon, it becomes clear that even traveling with her places each of their lives in danger. "Season" hovers on the edge of clicheness fairly often. There are a few moments that could have gone either way, including the "buddy" dynamic between Behmen and Felson and the inclusion of Kay, the young altar boy who accompanies them hoping to become a knight like his father was. These moments, however, lend a much-needed lightheartedness to a movie that keeps your heart pounding almost nonstop, and the caliber of the acting and directing keep it from going over the edge. The balance of seasoned and up-and-coming actors also works well in "Season". Claire Foy, in particular, is a delight to watch as she runs the gamut of roles from simple peasant and hapless victim to shrewd manipulator and evil menace. Cage and Perlman seem a touch out of place at times in medieval Europe, but as friends willing to fight together even in the face of Hell, they fit perfectly. It's not the standard winter movie fare, perhaps, but it's definitely spellbinding. )
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