Nicolas Cage, Season of the Witch

Relativity Media

Review in a Hurry: Nicolas Cage in a bad wig and medieval setting ought to be grounds for hilarity, but really isn't in this case. A movie that should have either gone all-out camp or held out for a better script becomes a middle-of-the-road bore, with only occasional flashes of the fun that could have been had the whole way through.

The Bigger Picture: The signs were amiss from the start. Early trailers for Season of the Witch just felt lackluster, even to devotees of the Nic Cage School of Hairpiece Hyperventilating. Cage as a 14th-century Crusade deserter, escorting a suspected witch to some arbitrary monastery at the command of a pustule-faced Christopher Lee? That ought to be sheer nerdvana, but we just weren't feeling it.

Now it is our sad duty to officially report that Cage barely seems aware he's even in a movie for most of the film's running time; he gets exactly one brief crazed outburst, followed by a lone Shatner-esque...mid-sentence pause...and that's it.

Shot in Hungary with genuinely impressive sets, this quest movie is mostly dull. Cage and his best bud Ron Perlman (Sons of Anarchy) quit the Crusades after the Church declares that killing women and children is OK, only to get recaptured and forced into service one more time to clear their names. Because the benefits of hand washing were not known at the time, the Black Death is being blamed on witches, and one in particular is to be taken to a certain abbey and exorcised. Well and good, except that most of the movie involves the journey, and literally nothing interesting happens along the way, except that a few wolves do some digital face-morphing for no apparent reason except to show off.

You'd think there would be some ambiguity about whether the young girl in question was a witch or not, especially since Cage wants her to have a fair trial. Only problem is she starts manifesting supernatural abilities right of the bat, so that's out. A bigger mystery is why English actor Stephen Graham affects an American accent for a movie set prior to the time when America was even discovered...all while Cage half-heartedly tries to give every tenth line-reading a tiny bit of U.K. inflection.

When Cage is good, he's great, and when he's bad, he's usually even better. When he sleepwalks, though, it's best just to get out of his way.

The 180—a Second Opinion: It's tempting to say that the scene in which Cage wrestles a CGI demon is worth the price of admission alone. Tempting...yet ultimately resistible.

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