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Sunday, August 7, 2011

Season of the Witch (2011)

Rating: 0.5/4

Season of the Witch is one of those unfortunate films that you can tell just how bad it will be within the first ten minutes. There is not one redeeming factor to make this film at least tolerable, it is as lost as the historical time period it fails terribly at portraying. Dominic Sena creates a film that will make a film lover sick. Abusing history with an idiotic view of the 14th century along with showing absolutely no understanding of religion. Making a major error of settling for a PG13 rating -- one of the dirtiest and most gruesome looking PG13 rated films -- at least an excessive amount of gore would have made its stupidity a little more reasonable. I have tried, and failed, to find anything respectable going on with this film. A film that came immediately to my mind while watching this is Uwe Boll's shockingly bad video game adaptation, Bloodrayne (2005). Both are dirty and cheap looking, lacking any artistic talent or even over-the-top enough to lead to any sort of cult status.

Portraying religion as this corrupt terrified of everything power that comes to unjustified conclusions of the supernatural is an exhausted view that rarely is ever shown in an accurate way. Set during the 14th century where three women are accused of witchcraft and hung releasing a demonic presence. Armies are engaged in a fictional crusade that is shown in multiple different battles ending with actual Smyrniote crusades. Teutonic Knights Behmen of Bleibruck (Nicolas Cage) and Felson (Ron Perlman) are the men who we follow through this array of violent, but yet bloodless, crusades. First using these battles as who can kill most contests, but once they reach Smyrna their viewpoints change, like they were blind to the pain that was being caused to the world before this point, and they abandon the Order. A major historical moment in time is blown through in less than ten minutes and we are left uncaring.

Nicolas Cage adds another atrocious film to his very long list of forgettable works. No matter how great he shows he can be, it is his work choice that will be his career long plague. As the terribly name Behmen of Bleibruck, Nicolas Cage tries to work with a character formed so terribly that I think Cage even forgot who he was suppose to be. Take a break Cage and please learn to wait for decent roles. I say that as a fan who has seen your talents.

I guess Cage isn't the actor with talents that blindly dove into this laughable take on a witch tale, Ron Perlman finds himself cashing in on a job that could lose him many in the future. Much of Perlman's success has come from his many collaborations with master visionary Guillermo del Toro. From Blade II (2002) to the Hellboy franchise, Perlman has shown that his slick macho personality is a very popular with modern audiences. Season of the Witch takes his clever wit and uses it for comic relief that ranges from annoying to just plain distasteful.

A script penned by Bragi F. Shut leaves his characters saying loud, recycled lines with forced emotion and little meaning. Religion is implied but not clarified and the presence of Satan is used as desperate appeal for a work that knows it is bad while its creators are clueless. Whoever read this and thought that anything other than something so bad it isn't even laughable would come from it is a mind that will assault the tastes of every respectable filmmaker they come in contact with. Give me some credit for ripping Bragi F. Shut's script without even mentioning its most obvious flaw; the dialogue is as 21st century as I am human.

Witch stories are another supernatural creature that have been being portrayed in film since the very beginning. They aren't as overused as vampires or zombies, but they sure do give werewolfs a run for their money. Witches word better as an idea than as something actually portrayed and Season of the Witch is an example of just how bad a witch film can be. Claire Foy plays Anna who is accused of being a witch. As bad as this film can be, and is, the real irredeemable flaw is that it tries to prove to us that she isn't a witch after already revealing, many times, that she is.

 With visuals as the last chance to gain at least a shed of respect Season of the Witch chooses to sell out instead. Copping out with CGI infested creatures that look like they are from an old computer game, not even something so simple to do is kept from becoming amateurish. How often CGI is used you would think it would be impossible to fail at making it look at least halfway decent, but yet I don't find myself surprised, at all. I guess I also wasn't surprised to realize that the finale was going to end up being a CGI overload with the ability to cause headaches.

What you see is what you get, and what you get is so cheap that it is borderline exploitative. Religion is attacked on all fronts with historical accuracy being a term not in anybody's dictionary. Dominic Sena's direction is dirty creating sets that look like a downpour of sewage had just passed. A sixteen-year-old boy could have written an equal script, even if he threw in some of his teenage slang. Bragi F. Shut needs to have his next script blacklisted just for his name being on it. It amazes me how Cage can just forget the talents we all know he has, and resort to an emotionless role that makes me wonder if he does just work for the money. A CGI overload climax caps off a film that should be passed, but needs to be trashed.

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