I have a love-hate relationship with my fishtank.
I imagine its inhabitants have a hate-hate relationship with me, sincemost of them end up dead, either for no good reason or because Itrapped them in an enclosed space with a puffer who turned out to be acannibalistic serial killer. That was traumatizing. Again, not astraumatizing as it must have been for the fish, who were mostlyreduced to spines and some stringy white stuff, but that doesn't meanit was all peaches and cream for me, either.
But it was pretty great when the puffer puffed. Or how, despite all myattempts to thwart the fiddler crab's escape, every single time I camehome from work I'd find him sitting on top of the tank. They do someterrible, gross things, but they do a lot of funny stuff, too. This ispretty much how I feel about the work of Nicolas Cage. Whatever he'sup to, it's usually worth watching, even when it's as bad as Seasonof the Witch.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Tri-City Herald
Cage and Ron Perlman have fought for the Crusades for years, but whenCage sees his fellow troops ordered to kill innocents, the twosoldiers strike out on their own. In a plague-ravaged land, they'rearrested as deserters -- and the penalty is death.
The local church gives them a choice: they've captured a young womanthey believe is the witch who's responsible for the curse that'splagued them. If Cage and Perlman will escort the girl to her trial ata monastery, all the charges against them will be dropped.
Here's how Season of the Witch establishes Cage and Perlman arebattle-hardened badasses: first, there's a clip of them joking aroundas they chop a lot of guys into infidel sausage. Then there's anothertwo or three clips of them chopping a bunch of other guys, but onescene's at night. If your imagination's filling in this montage withrelevant, interesting details, stop now. All they do is stab a lot ofpeople and get yelled at to stab harder.
That's about as artful as Season of the Witch gets. It's nostranger to cliches, either: while Cage is a fellow so honorable you'dtrust him with the One Ring even if it were made of blueberry pie,Perlman, against all odds, is more of a rough-and-tumble rogue. Thisis going to revolutionize the way we think about buddy-soldiers. We'retalking about a pairing on par with partnering a white cop with ablack cop.
Admittedly, they've got some chemistry together. And it takes acertain skill to deliver Bragi F. Schut's lines without dying of amassive overdose of cheesy. (This closely resembles a heart attack,but the corpse is spreadable on whole wheat crackers.)
Bragi and director Dominic Sena don't do any better establishing therules of their world. Witches exist (though it's long unclear whetherthe escorted girl is one), but we have no way of knowing what they'recapable of, how you detect or kill one, or even whether they are infact ducks. The supernatural finale ends up arbitrary and stakes-free.
Yet despite the fact it is a big fat sack of crap, I do not hateSeason of the Witch. Its plot, while dully simple, is at leastcoherent. And if you're the type who enjoys seeing actors attempt topreserve their dignity despite the hokey medieval dialogue, oh, isthere much hokey medieval dialogue. It's the kind of enjoyably crummyB-movie you'll probably have to watch by yourself.