Nicolas Cage stars in 'Season of the Witch': movie review

( PG-13 ) ( Monitor Movie Guide )

Nicolas Cage leads some expendable stalwarts in a so-so ‘Season of the Witch.’

Egon Endrenyi/Relativity Media/AP
From left, Stephen Campbell Moore, Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman are shown in a scene from 'Season of the Witch.'

Nicolas Cage is one of those actors who is fun to watch even in a dreadful movie. He's made his fair share.

I was looking forward to "Season of the Witch" because it featured Cage as a lapsed 13th-century Crusader in a Black Death-ridden world infested with demons. Sounded promisingly awful.

As it turns out, the film is not altogether dreadful, although it's far from good. And that's not good. Classic stinkeroos are rarer than masterpieces, and we all need a laugh now and then, even if the laughs are inadvertent.

But don't worry. There's plenty of badness to go around in "Season of the Witch." It's just that Cage, despite being encased in armor and hides and grime and burlap, with hair that looks as if it hasn't been shorn since the 12th century, is surprisingly – disappointingly – restrained. Despite his intonations, which at times, as usual, seem to echo Elvis, he's even halfway believable.

Cage's Behmen and his longtime fighting buddy Felson (Ron Perlman) have gone AWOL from the Crusades because after decades it's finally dawned on them that women and children are also being massacred in the name of God. Returning to their homeland, they discover it has become a wasteland of plague and pestilence. And just in case we didn't get the point, director Dominic Sena and his creative team never pass up the opportunity to showcase close-ups of corpses that might have been hauled in from "Saw 3."

While searching for food, the two knights are reeled in by the local cardinal, played by Christopher Lee no less, and given a choice: Go to jail for desertion or escort a local girl (Claire Foy) accused of being a witch to stand trial in a distant abbey. To get there, accompanied by several expendable stalwarts, the men must traverse sheer-walled gorges and ravines and forests where wolves are so plentiful that you'd think the knights stumbled into a "Twilight" convention. They must also traverse acres and acres of very bad dialogue.

My favorite line, delivered with a straight face, comes when a demon proves to be more formidable than anticipated. "We're going to need more holy water."

It would take a lot more than holy water to rescue "Season of the Witch" from mediocrity. Grade: C- (Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, violence, and disturbing content.)


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