Season of the Witch – a review

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This is the movie I saw yesterday. I saw it alone because I knew the husband would never want to see it, and #1 daughter had no interest. Nobody I live with likes Nicholas Cage, while I’m a big fan, and I don’t even know why. He’s made some real crap, but I have to see him. Also, I love medieval set films. Even if the medieval is a lot of CGI, and the anachronisms abound. *g* Some people like horror flicks. I like cheesy Nicholas Cage. Always have. Probably always will. Don’t understand it myself.

And I don’t mind seeing bad movies sometimes because I analyze and rewrite and see where, for me, the story went wrong. This one went wrong in several places, but there were a couple of scenes where I found myself tensed up even though I knew everything would work out because the story had no true surprises. Well, it had two, I guess. One I’d anticipated but couldn’t predict the exact outcome (the truth about Anna), and the other that did surprise me and was one of the best scenes in the show (involving Ron Perlman’s character at the end). Here’s the basic plot:

Season of the Witch is a 2011 American period action film starring Nicolas Cage and directed by Dominic Sena. Cage stars alongside Ron Perlman as knights who return from the Crusades to find their homeland ruined by the Black Plague. Two church elders accuse a girl (Claire Foy) of being a witch and being responsible for the destruction. They command Behmen and Felson to transport Anna to a monastery so the monks there can lift her curse from the land.[3]

The story is a fully transparent hero’s journey. After a “prologue” a hundred years prior, we see Behmen and Felson in their ordinary world which happens to be fighting in the Crusades. Disillusioned with the reality of what they are doing in the name of the Church, they return to England to find the Black Plague sweeping across the land.

When they are recognized as deserters and imprisoned, they learn people believe the plague is from hell and caused by a witch, who happens to be imprisoned with them. They are tasked with escorting her to a monastery where the monks will determine her fate, and at first refuse, but then as reluctant heroes answer the call to adventure.

Traveling with them are friends and allies (a priest, a knight, a young man, a swindler), and along the way they encounter trials (including the witch’s escape, an attack by wolves, deaths of group members). (I thought the bridge crossing scene was great, though nothing compared to Roy Scheider’s in Sorcerer.) After making their way through the Wormwood Forest (the inmost cave), Behmen’s commitment is tested as part of “the ordeal” but the monastery (the reward) then comes into view.

Those of the group remaining embark on “the road back” toward their destination, then must fight demons (enemies) which have taken it over to save the Key of Solomon (the elixir). There are more twists and turns and “the resurrection” and “the return with the elixir” deviate from Vogler’s mythology, but are still a part of the plot.

The problem is there are no real surprises. The tests and challenges don’t take the journey in any sort of new direction. It’s linear from beginning to end, no character growth, which considering the ending I guess isn’t a big deal, heh.

I’d give it a solid C rating – if just for Cage’s hair. *g*

2 thoughts on “Season of the Witch – a review”

  1. For the record, Alison, if you lived closer (or even if I lived closer) I would have gone with you to have seen this, as it turns out I went alone to see it as well (Here’s what I think of it), if anyone cares.

    Also for the record, I too like Nic Cage flicks, or rather like to go and see them because, yes, he has made some (several) crap films. I agree with you about the did like the Roy Scheider bridge-crossing scene in Sorcerer being way better, and I also liked the Zombie monks at the end.

    Oh, and they don’t return to England, they are on the coast of Syria, (you should probably bring your reading glasses and check out the words at the bottom of the screen).

    The Perfessor

  2. Actually, they do return to England. Felson mentions seeing his home, and it was the coast of Styria, which isn’t really an English coast at all (but is part of Austria / Switzerland where they filmed), but if you read the Wiki page, the plague is sweeping across England.

    Cutting to several years later during the Crusades, knights Behmen and Felson become disillusioned with the war upon seeing women and children being mercilessly slaughtered and return to England as deserters.

    I would’ve been happy to go with you, as I think you and I enjoyed, ahem, the show just about as much.

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