Season of the Very Bored Nicolas Cage

I don’t think anyone was expecting much from Season of the Witch. So in that respect, I guess it doesn’t disappoint. The film has been rotting in distribution hell for 10 months now. It was originally slated for a March 2010 release, but sour business between Lionsgate and Relativity Media forced it to be shelved…until now. Cage’s presence is probably the only factor that saved this silly film from a direct to DVD ditch.

Personally, I will see anything with Nic Cage in it. I think he’s a genius. And in college I studied under one of the leading Black Plague scholars, Dr. Donna Vinson. So Cage starring in a Black Plague-related film? Sounded like a dream. But as more and more info trickled out, it became obvious SotW was going to be a throwaway in Cage’s oeuvre. I took the bullet anyway – just for you guys.

Cage phones in his performance as Behmen, a 14th century knight who becomes disillusioned with the Crusades and deserts with his bff Felson (Ron Perlman). They return to England to find the land decimated by the Plague. Behmen and Felson are asked by Cardinal D’Ambroise (Christopher Lee) to escort a girl (cutie pie Claire Foy) they believe to be a witch to a monastery. There she is to judged innocent or guilty as the cause of the Plague. Behmen and Felson are joined by another knight, a priest, a teen knight, and a swindler played by the always awesome Stephen Graham (This Is England, Boardwalk Empire).

Cage and Perlman play off each other really well – heckling one another and whatnot. Perlman is way more fun to watch in this one than Cage. Graham is criminally underused. That dude needs bigger roles! Claire Foy, in her first big-screen role, is decent as the girl, but early on they take away any of her character’s mystery and it’s obvious she’s a witch. She’s constantly being creepy and says incriminating stuff throughout their journey. It makes the “twist” near the climax totally limp.

Director Dominic Sena (Kalifornia, Gone in 60 Seconds) is a capable man and tries to make a serious fantasy adventure, but nearly everything is cheap. The production design is uninspired, the effects are really really weak, and the script is just idiotic at times. Although there’s so much wrong with the film, SotW sadly never ventures into the realm of “unintentionally funny,” which would have made the price of admission excusable. Definitely wait for this one on DVD or sniff out a torrent.

There’s only one very short moment of “genius Nic Cage” that occurs in the first 10 minutes of the movie. For about three seconds there’s a clip of Cage and Perlman drinking with whores on their laps and Cage belts out his classic maniac laugh. It got a rise out of me, but then the movie collapsed. Oh well, there’s always next month’s Drive Angry.