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Burn Season of the Witch



By Anthony Lauriello     1/20/11 6:00pm

Every job involves perils, and when I took up the noble calling of reviewing movies for our fine newspaper, I knew the danger I would be facing. I knew that carefully crafting articles would take my precious time, that inferior movies would test my already stretched patience and that deadline-focused editors would push me ever closer to the brink of insanity. Yet I never foresaw that a movie would seriously and forever damage my intelligence. After bearing witness to Season of the Witch, a veritable war crime on good taste and cinema in general, I now fear that my GPA will suffer because my brain's cerebral cortex has shrunk after being exposed to pure idiocy (and as Rice students, we all know that our grades define not only our futures but our very souls).

In a normal review, this would be the section where I would discuss the plot. Fortunately, the plot is so devoid of complexity and nuance that it can be summarized in one sentence: Two 14th-century knights, played by Nicolas Cage (National Treasure) and Ron Perlman (Hellboy), must transport a witch, played by Claire Foy (Going Postal), to a remote abbey so that monks can destroy her magical powers and subsequently end the Black Death. If that sentence made no sense to you, it is because your mind possesses too many reasoning and functioning powers to ever enjoy Season of the Witch.

Director Dominic Sena (the man who managed to make even Angelina Jolie unattractive in Gone In 60 Seconds) was the midwife who helped birth this grotesque demon child of a movie, adding to an already dubious and undistinguished filmography. Sena decides to take the ridiculously absurd subject matter seriously,? therefore dashing any faint glimmer of hope that Season of the Witch could survive as farce.

The dialogue showed no imagination or quality whatsoever and, despite a few pretenses at trying to sound medieval, the diction seems remarkably modern. While I am not a history major, I remain incredulous that supposed Crusaders said lines like "you saved my ass." The set design and costumes of the film help transport the audience into an episode of "BeastMaster" or "Xena: Warrior Princess" or other such cheap fantasy-sword shows aimed at overgrown children who still live in their parents' attic. The CGI is even worse and the various battles and supernatural monsters wouldn't impress even if the film was released 10 years ago.

The acting in the film merely shows that top-notch actors should be more discerning in the roles they choose. Cage seems bored, and his uninspired performance merely reminds the audience of his destitute financial position and his inability to choose to perform in good movies. Those expecting Cage's trademark insanity or impulsiveness will go home sorely disappointed. Perlman does a better job, but the veteran and accomplished actor can only do so much with the lines given to him.

I did not go to Season of the Witch expecting an excellent film, but I found that, despite my cynicism and low expectations, I was still shocked by how horrible this movie truly was. I can only hope that the sinking feeling of idiocy I feel will abate. Due to the mind-numbing nature of the movie, I highly recommend it to all the diligent students who share classes with me and threaten my grading curves. To everyone else, stay as far away from this movie as is humanly possible.

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