Nicolas Cage has thrust himself back into the spotlight in the last year, staring in two major films in 2010, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and Kick-Ass. Now with the New Year past us, his first big movie of year sees him playing a crusader in the eleventh century for Season of the Witch. Co-staring is fantasy favourite Ron Perlman playing Cage’s friend and sidekick.
The film introduces the two main characters by showing their part in several major battles of the crusades, attempting to show that Cage and Perlman are warrior elite, and have been able to best every foe the of church. This ends with a revelation by Cage which leads him and Perlman to leave the crusades behind, becoming deserter outcasts throwing off the shackles of the church and becoming wandering men.
Although the revelation is produced well and has long-term effects on Cage’s character throughout the movie, it seemed as though the director wanted to do it in the least amount of time possible. The first fifteen minutes of pure character building seemed forced, as if someone was yelling in my ear “Look how awesome he is, he kills men like they’re ants, but look he understands his mistakes, dynamic character he is.” Cage’s character is in fact quite dynamic; however, that fact is delivered to the audience in a far too obvious and direct way to evoke any real feelings for the character. Oddly enough, Perlman’s character is completely static and flat, but he is more relatable than any other character. Fulfilling his common roll of the comic relief, Perlman was exquisite throughout the film.
Eventually Cage and Perlman find themselves back in the service of the church, being charged with the task of delivering a suspected witch to a monastery with a rare book able to save all of humanity. The fellowship of the witch is composed of stock characters featuring the priest who wronged the witch, a peddler who has to be freed from shackles to guide them to the monastery, a third knight who lost his family to the plague, and, finally, an alter boy who wants to be a knight. I attempted to decide who would die in what order along the path which is really the only reason Cage and Perlman needed more people. Can’t have the heroes dying, can you? The director continually pokes at the witch being a very powerful entity while still being a weak and harmless girl.
The director of this film apparently enjoys employing deus ex machina or “god out of the machine” far too much as I was able to count it used seven times. An average film will use this once; mostly to bring a protagonist back to life. Plot twists were also used with loose licence, seemingly occurring every fifteen minutes.
Overall this PG-13 movie is worth sitting through if you enjoy a mix between church hating and high fantasy. With a ninety five minute runtime you will not feel cheated in any way while getting your fix of God good church bad themed conversation.