Fight Film Friday: Season of the Witch

Posted: January 7, 2011 in fight film friday
Tags: ,

Season of the Witch
USA, 2011
Genre: Action, Adventure, Medieval Fantasy
95 minutes
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0479997/

Nicolas Cage stars as a knight from the Crusades, returning home and asked to lead an imprisoned girl to trial for witchcraft.

Going into the film with low expectations, I was pleasantly surprised by the earnest effort put forth by the cast and crew for Season of the Witch. While definitely not the best movie of the season by a long shot, it’s a fairly entertaining production, even if it’s a bit inconsistent. The on location shots are quite picturesque, which contrasts greatly with the obviously greenscreened scenes, which feel cramped and plastic by comparison. The use of CGI is thankfully limited, although when they do ramp it up towards the end, it becomes quite apparent they either didn’t have the time or the budget to dedicate towards making the most of the computer visuals. The final twenty minutes of the film are almost comical with the reliance on them, transforming the movie from an intriguing historical thriller to a SyFy channel original production.

The story itself isn’t anything too special, and moves along at a deliberate pace. The dialogue is a little poorly phrased in some scenes, but overall it gets the point across. The acting isn’t terrible, with Cage’s trademark deadpan making a strong showing, but the two leads don’t have enough chemistry on screen to make them really believable as old war buddies. While the effort to inject levity into a fairly dark film is appreciated, a lot of Ron Perlman’s witticisms are awkwardly placed, making the already stiff dialogue seem even more forced. The supporting cast does alright with the material they have, with Claire Foy pulling a lot of weight as the girl in question, delivering a performance that ranges from sympathetic to genuinely unnerving.

The fights were surprisingly well-choreographed for a period film, adding a lot of enjoyment to the viewing experience. Starting from the crusades and working through rival knights, wild animals, and even the undead, the action isn’t always well shot, but is still lots of fun to watch. The supernatural element doesn’t really make an appearance until the end of the movie, and as mentioned earlier, it does take the wind out of the sails for the film. It doesn’t the fights that much less enjoyable, but it does feel much at odds with the rest of the story.

Overall, Season of the Witch is just a bit confused about its own identity as to what kind of movie it’s trying to be. Going in with this knowledge, however, can make for a pretty good experience, as there are some fun moments to be had with the right mindset. It’s not exactly worth the full ticket price, but catching it on matinee with another film might make the trip to the theaters worth it.

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