Burn her! Burn her!
Season of the Witch
What would happen if somebody walked up to Nicolas Cage in a fast food joint and said “Hey H.I. McDunnough, I’m making a movie about koala bears who drink beer and fart a lot while playing cards in a bathtub! Wanna be in it? I’ll give you 50 bucks and a tattoo!”
My guess is he would happily take the role if they threw in a burger and a side of fries. After seeing him trudge his way through the abysmal Season of the Witch, I’m convinced there isn’t a script, or a paycheck, that he would turn down.
Cage is still capable of good movies, with The Bad Lieutenant and Kick-Ass as recent proof, but what about all these other things he’s giving his name and likeness? The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Bangkok Dangerous and now this wretched thing show that his Stank-O-Meter is off in favor of big paydays.
Cage plays Behmen, a knight having a blast fighting in the Crusades. He makes bets with his knight buddy Felson (Ron Perlman) about how many people they will ruthlessly kill during onslaughts. They quip about how the one who kills the least people must pick up the bar tab that night, then go about gleefully cutting people’s heads off. Their accents and speech patterns sound like a couple of Brooklyn dwellers circa 1995, yet there they are in medieval times wearing goofy helmets and sword fighting.
When Cage accidentally kills a lady, he suddenly has a crisis of conscience. It’s all right to kill thousands of men in the name of God and beer money, but kill one lady, and suddenly he’s all cavalier and guilt-stricken. He and Perlman flee the Crusades and go on a quest through the countryside looking for chickens.
They get busted in a plague-ridden town, where a heavily made-up Christopher Lee asks them to take an evil witch (Claire Foy) to some big church to be tried and more than likely hanged. Behmen and Felson will do no such thing because they don’t like the church anymore, so they are sent to a stinky dungeon. After a night in the hole, they agree to go on the journey in exchange for a full pardon and a carton of cigarettes.
Is the girl a witch? Maybe. Will you care? Hell, no.
While the movie is not a comedy—not intentionally, anyway—it does bear a striking resemblance to Monty Python and the Holy Grail. When they hand the alleged witch over to the boys for their journey, you half expect somebody to scream out, “We have found a witch, may we burn her? She weighs the same as a duck!”
When townspeople throw dead bodies on carts, you expect Eric Idle to strike a bell and scream “Bring out your dead!” And, finally, when they approach a wooden suspension bridge over something that looks like the Gorge of Eternal Peril, one expects to see Terry Gilliam at its entrance announcing “Who approaches the Bridge of Death must answer me these questions three, ere the other side he see!”
Yeah, this is what occupied my mind while taking Season of the Witch in through my protesting eyeballs. I think it was a diversionary tactic by my brain to call attention away from yet another horrible Nicolas Cage hairpiece. Seriously, the dead Shi Tzu draping his cranium could be his worst scalp enhancement yet. It’s time to pull a Michael Stipe on that dome!
There’s a big finale involving some sort of gargoyle-looking demon-type-thing and, I must admit, I almost got into it. Then the monster spoke and it sounded like an angry Muppet. When the demon spoke, people in the surprisingly full theater I viewed it in laughed hard—this wasn’t the intended effect.
At this point, it’s almost as if Nicolas Cage has turned into a modern day Bela Lugosi, and loser directors like Dominic Sena (who directed this movie and Gone in 60 Seconds) and Jon Turteltaub (National Treasure, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice) are the equivalent of his Ed Wood. Wouldn’t be surprised to find out he also has a terrible morphine addiction, a la Lugosi. Judging by his disengaged performance in this turd, that would actually make a lot of sense.