Sunday, January 30, 2011

Season of the Witch is burned at the stake

What a great movie to start the new year with. A medieval, fantasy, action, buddy-movie directed by director Dominic Swordfish Sena with Nicholas Cage and Ron Perlman as 13th century crusaders. What the fuck could possibly go wrong...?

Yes, you guessed it - almost everything.

Strangely Cage's torch didn't spontaneously extinguish in this scene

The movie opens with the execution of three suspected witches, revealing of course that not all of them were as innocent as they all were in reality. We are then treated to a montage of some of the final battles of the Crusades [with a chronological date on screen being 50 years after the crusades ended] featuring hopeless CGI armies. The scenes establish that our hero knights Behmen [Cage] and Felson [Pearlman] are the best of friends who later break their oath to the church once they are sent to kill innocents. They return to the coast of Styria [a province of Austria - a landlocked country somehow now with a coastline?] where they discover their homeland is in the grip of The Black Plague. Believing the plague to be a blight of the Devil brought down at the behest of a young witch Anna [Claire Foy], the church sends our heroes on a quest to deliver her to a remote monastery where she is to be judged by the monks there. The quest itself is the bulk of the movie and is very D&D/LOTR-style as our heroes are accompanied by a range of diverse characters including a noble paladin Eckhardt [Ulrich Centurion Thompson], the sneaky rogue Hagamar [Stephen Shatch Graham] and the cleric Debelzaq [Stephen The Bank Job Campbell Moore].

You can't really see it but they're looking at a map that would not be out of place inside a 1970's D&D module

Cage turns on his "pain" switch as opposed to his "manic" one and delivers his lines [and out of place one-liners] in his usual American twang not making any conscious effort to sound Germanic [which in retrospect might be a good thing] and acts pretty much like he's being directed by the man who directed him in Gone in 60 Seconds which was not Cage or Sena's fines hour but this movie proves to be slightly more entertaining because you're just waiting for the next ridiculous, line, set piece, bad CGI or unnecessary plot point to make you laugh at this incredibly hilarious movie. Some of these highlights include: The attack of the Werewolf-wolves, a Monty Python-esque "Bridge of Doom" sequence and a wholly unconvincing CGI demon in the climactic battle.

The much vaunted "even more vicious" Warewolf-wolves

The movie suffered a tumultuous production history. Written by Bragi F. Schut in 2000 it was bid on by numerous studios until MGM won. Due to some financial issues in 2003 it went to Columbia Pictures where producers worked with Sena to perform location shooting throughout Europe but they couldn't find a suitable 14th Century castle. The project eventually went to Relativity Media, and with Sena officially attached. Creative discussions led to avoiding excessive violence and gore so it could be marketed to a broader audience. Cage eventually became available in 2008 and was cast in the starring role. With a budget of $40m, and much of the budget was covered by Relativity with pre-sales to distributors outside the United States. Most of the principal photography took place in practical locations in Austria, Hungary, and Croatia with several days committed to filming on greenscreen. Principal photography was completed by April 2009, but the cast and crew re-gathered a few months later to film additional battle sequences on greenscreen only - and boy does it show.

You'd be forgiven for thinking that this movie is shit from my review, and to be honest you'd be right, but it's a movie I did enjoy watching if not for all the wrong reasons. Watch it on TV with a beer.

Colonel Creedon rating: ***

1 comment:

vaughan said...

Ahhh Colonel you forgot to mention the map with three locations on it...strangely the only three locations we visit in the movie.
What was truly Joyous was that myself, My Wife and our friend Brian went to see The Way Back the week it wasn't the best movie in the world but it was ruined by a bunch of middle aged twats who couldn't stop we got free tickets for the next film which was Season of the Witch, I cannot tell you the enjoyment I had watching the Colonels reaction to the idiotic stupdity that unfolded on screen afterwards stating the fact he was the only one who had actually paid to watch this madness.