I’ve got a lot of time for Nicholas Cage. He has made some of my favourite films (Con Air, The Rock, Kick-Ass) and when he is at the top of his game, he can really act! He is the kind of actor that when you realise he is in a film, even if it looks like it will be poor, you have to stand up and pay attention. Season of the Witch is the perfect example of that kind of film.
When I saw the trailer it didn’t exactly take my breath away. The idea seemed interesting, a girl who is accused of being a witch must be taken to a large monastery that has the means to destroy her by a band of rough and rugged knights, but hardly enough to set my imagination on fire. Though when I saw it on LoveFilm, I considered the fact that Nicholas Cage was in it and added it, thinking that it could well surprise me (like The Karate Kid did.)
Unfortunately that wasn’t the case. Now this isn’t a bad film. It’s not awful and is definitely watchable but Nicholas Cage can do better! I can’t imagine he looked at the script and thought “I have got to do this film!” To be honest, that does show. I think you can tell when an actor has chosen a film for an easy bit of cash, because they feel like they’re going through the motions and this was the impression I got from Nick in this film.
Before I can go any further, I have to mention accent and dialogue. From the very beginning it seemed overly confused! For me there is two schools of thought on authentic dialogue in a history film. You either go with it and try to make it as authentic as possible (Deadwood or Passion of the Christ) or you abandon it, realising it won’t take any of the enjoyment of the film away from the viewer (Back to the Future 3?). In Season of the Witch, they seemed to mix the two. Every actor had some “authentic” dialogue mixed with modern dialogue… unless you were Ron Perlman who didn’t bother with the authentic at all.
The same can be said for accents. Either everyone should be the authentic accent or you should just ignore the fact. Instead, they had Nicholas Cage and Ron Pearlman not bother with a British accent (which is fine) but then had Stephen Graham (a British actor, excellent in Snatch and This is England) put on what seemed like an American accent?! The whole accent/dialogue mix up became more distracting than it ever needed to be!
The film itself was just… average. The story was run of the mill with some elements that caught my attention, like a battle with a pack of wolves and the “climactic reveal” at the end of the film, both of which were highlights. The special effects were also very good and brought up another frustration as this film was obviously not a cheap, straight-to-dvd rush job. Money had been spent and it did have some decent actors (Christopher Lee!!!) but just felt like they wasted a good opportunity to create a tense witch film.
The film did toy with the idea of the girl not being a witch and what would happen at the “trial” when they got to the monastery. I thought this was going to go down a “was she, wasn’t she” avenue where the film would always keep you guessing at her “guilt.” They miss that opportunity early on though and I think they’ve wasted what could have been a tense and more serious film rather than the silly and average one they were left with.
On a more positive note, Robert Sheehan is really good in this and has so far been strong in everything I have seen him in (Misfits, the Borrowers) and Ron Pearlman can always be relied on to be a bad-ass, even if he was just playing Hell-Boy doing the Crusades.
Overall, I wouldn’t rush out to go see the film. It isn’t scary, it isn’t clever with its treatment of the witch trials and accusations and it just feels… average. I’m just going to wait for my next “proper” Nicholas Cage film.
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)