Well, this film has been slated by both critic's and reviewers alike, it's really not that bad, in fact i quite enjoyed it.
True, twas a bit ''Camp'' and as far as i'm aware 'America' was yet to be discovered ( Nicolas Cage's accent ) during those dark days.
'Nicolas Cage' (Behmen Von Bleibruck) and 'Ron Perlman' (Feison) are 'knight's' of the Church during the Crusades, after many years of battle the two become disilusioed of the cause they were fighting for.
They dessert , and head home only to find the land 'rife' with the plague.
The two are arrested as desserter's but given the chance to redeem themselves by escorting what is believed to be the cause of the misery 'a Witch' ....they, along with a guide a priest and a few soldiers are to go to a remote 'Monastery' where the 'Monk's' would 'try' the suspected Witch and rid the land of her curse through a ritual.
The journey has many problems, also upon reaching their destination ''all is not well''
The film has several battle and fight sequences along with some ''Horror' scenes, coupled with some good 'Special-Effects'
give it a go........it's really not a bad watch. (As I've mentioned before, I tend to follow 'Nicholas Cage' movies.
This movie was so thoroughly murdered by the critics, that I was not expecting much - but to my great surprise I spend a very pleasant cinema moment!
As you probably already know the main plot is about two former crusaders, a noble knight Behmen (Nicholas Cage) and a simple warrior Felson (Ron Pearlman), who, after running in trouble with the Church, are pardoned but asked to perform one more service - escort an alleged witch, a young girl named Anna (Claire Foy) to the remote abbey where she can be tried. The journey begins in what seems to be western Austria and is quite long and dangerous as the travelers must cross the Alps and some particularly wild forests to reach the abbey of Severac which seems to be somewhere in northern Switzerland or southern Alsace.
The reason for this journey is that the whole country is stricken by an incredibly deadly epidemic - in fact it is the beginning of THE Black Death of 1348-52, which was going ultimately to kill half of the population of the whole Europe! The cardinal d'Ambroise (Christopher Lee) who sends the two ex-crusaders in this mission is himself dying of plague. The Church considers Anna responsible for the epidemic, as she was seen around most of the places where the disease began - she also is supernaturally strong and speaks often in tongues nobody have ever heard off. The Church hopes that the monks of Severac, who own a large collection of secret books advising how to remove curses and expel demons, will be able to deprive the witch of her power and put an end to the plague, which is every day killing hundreds of people.
Behmen and Felson will not go alone - they are joined by a young Inquisitor, father Debelzaq (Stephen Campbell Moore), a local knight Eckhart (Ulrich Thomsen) who lost his wife and children to the plague and a swindler and thief, Hagamar (Stephen Graham) who knows well the way to Severac and for this reason is pardoned and send on the quest. The group will be joined later by a young altar boy Kay (Robert Sheehan), who, being of noble birth prefers to become a warrior rather than to be a seminarist. Once the group is complete, the quest can begin...
There are many reasons why I liked this movie and one of them is that it really reminded me of some good moments I spend playing Dungeons and Dragons! The group of adventurers seems coming straight from an ADD adventure - there is a Paladin (Behmen), three Warriors (Felson, Eckhart and Kay), one Priest (Debelzaq) and one Thief (Hagamar). The whole quest combines a good mixture of wilderness, city and underground (dungeon) adventures and there is a good deal of hazards, riddles, black magic and even some monsters... And the whole thing is very professionally mixed, with some nasty surprises and not silly at all!
Nicholas Cage is a very good actor (he however sometimes plays in very bad movies) and he did very well in this one. Stephen Campbell Moore is also very convincing as Inquisitor father Debelzaq, but the best performances were those of Ron Pearlman, Claire Foy and the young Robert Sheehan. The atmosphere in places like a plague stricken medieval burg, the high Alps, the dark Wormwood Forest (by the way, Wormwood is also the name of the star which will fall on Earth during the Apocalypse...) and finally the dungeons of Severac was very well made!
One of the things that I liked the most was the appearance of people in the towns - although the streets were muddy and dirty and people wore practical sturdy and not very colorful clothes (the best clothes being reserved for Sunday or other special days), they did not have dirty faces and they did not look retarded or sick (except of course those who were stricken by the Black Death). I really do not know why so many directors consider that every person in a medieval town must have a dirty face and/or a look like he/she was issued from ten generations of consanguinity! Dominic Sena escaped this trap with grace and the result is quite credible.
Another thing which I liked was the approach of the Church and especially the character of the priest Debelzaq. In a lesser movie the political correctness would ask that he be the main scoundrel and the real villain - in this movie things are much much much more complicated and the final solution of the movie is a very unexpected one. For sure, the horror of witches hunt is not blunted in this movie (although in real history the real epidemic of witch hunt took place AFTER the Middle Age was over, in XVI and XVII century!) and there is one scene of execution of an innocent young woman which is absolutely horrible - but the other face of the Church is also shown in this movie, by the devotion of cardinal d'Abroise and also many others priests and monks who try to do their duty in the time of unprecedented cataclysm without any regard for their own safety and until their last breath.
Last but not least - the ending of the movie is quite good - I was moved by it and I really did not expect it happen, when going to see it. Which is even more surprising, my wife was moved by it too - and she is not anywhere as forgiving (or as much into fantastic adventures) as I am...
Now of course it is only a movie without much more ambition than to distract, so one should not try to see too much in it and it is certain that in this film Christianity itself is shown as a kind of more organized witchcraft, which is ludicrous as Jesus himself strictly forbid to play with magic as a blasphemy against the first commandment and warned that any people who claim having some kind of "powers" are just charlatans. The scene in which a Catholic priest performs a kind of weird ritual to make certain that a hanged and drowned witch will not raise from the dead is perfectly ridicule and a horrible blasphemy! Any Inquisitor playing this kind of esoteric nonsense would find himself in serious risk of prosecution for heresy!
Also, be advised that most of the the battles mentioned in the beginning of the movie are pure invention! There never was a siege of Tripoli in 1334, there never was a "battle of Imbros" in 1337, there never was a "battle of Artah" in 1339. On another hand, the siege and capture of Smyrne in 1344 by troops raised by the Pope Clement VI is authentic - although this army was not made of sensu stricto crusaders. In fact the real Crusades ended in 1291, long time before the Black Death (1348-1352), with the last crusader fortress, Saint-Jean d'Acre, taken by the Muslims. The director and the author of the scenario needed however two former crusaders for this movie in time of the Black Death, so they bended a little bit the history - but considering the final result I am tempted to give them the absolution...))))
To conclude, I advise you not to believe the critics (or the reviewers for that matter) and give this movie a fair trial. If you find it wanting, you can hang it, drown it or even burn it at stake, and that most probably with the benediction of the Church... ))) But if you like fantastic adventures, you could really find it quite entertaining - I certainly did!
I gave this a viewing on Netflix recently the film has had fairly dire reviews from the press, but isn't nearly as bad as I feared but it doesn't break new ground in a lot of areas either; managing to come out of it as a respectable way to kill 95 minutes of time in the evening.
Cage stars as Behmen von Bleibruck a knight on the crusades joined by his sidekick knight friend Felson (Ron Perlman). Disillusioned by some of the barbaric acts during the battles (where civilians are killed) the men desert and decide to go it alone. The Black Death has struck causing panic and many questioning the church, the two men are captured and given the chance to "redeem themselves" by the Cardinal if they bring a "Witch" (Claire Foy) to a monastery in a remote region, the witch is suspected of causing the plague.
Not the most original story ever but sets the pace for the journey and adventure along the way. Some critics have remarked the film is "unintentionally funny" and in a few places despite a serious looking Cage it does almost slip into a "National Treasure" spoof just a few places that is. Cage and Perlman work quite well in the roles this is the sort of film that suits Cage and Ron provides the gritty look that fits in with the era. A few problems for me, whilst the directing is quite competent and the backdrops/scenes looked quite good to me there were a couple of "rather obvious" moments that most directors would cringe at including. Firstly the scene where they are crossing the bridge and the close up shot of the rope starting to snap would count as one (this one is so old it's a little embarrassing to see it again even if it does add a bit of drama) Another scene showing Cage deflecting crossbows being fired at him also stretched reality a little more than I'd like to see.
Perhaps the weakest element of the film is the lack of ambition from the story it moves along at a suitable pace though lags a little in the middle. Fortunately the last 20 minutes do ramp up the action quite nicely and I think it boosts the film overall. It would be quite hard to say this is a "great movie" though worth a watch, not really suited to younger viewers some scenes are a bit graphic/violent. Not a complete turkey and probably not deserving of the 10% rating on rotten tomatoes, but I'm not sure the DVD is going to be worn out with massive numbers of repeat viewings either.
on 23 September 2014
So the film is set in Europe (so kinda weird that theres so many american accents) during the crusades so we can guess sometime in the 1400's maybe 1500's. It opens at a witch trial where three women are accused of witchcraft, the trial is carried out (they're hung with rocks in their pockets and then dropped in the river, if they float they're witches and burnt otherwise they simply die.....what a very fair test that is). The priest pleades for the villagers to help him bring them up so they can finish the ritual but everyone leaves shrugging it off. The priest manages to pull them up and begins recieting from a tome at this point one of the witches comes back from the dead kills the priest and destroys the book.
Fastfoward to our two heros Nicholas Cage and Ron Perlman, two teutonic knights (I think) who desert the order after having to massacre civilians. The two knights find themselves wondering in a countryside riddled with pestillence and plague, similar to the Black Death but more necrotic. They are captured and offered redemption by the cardinal if they can take the witch responsible to a monastary for trial and if she if found to be the cause the monks will be able to cancel her powers.
The film details the journey primarily and pretty awesome battle scenes. The scenery alone is simply amazing and some of the effects are spectacular. Not to mention the acting and camera work are top-notch. Frankly I love this film the only thing bad thing I can say about it is there aren't any dragons in it.
This is not a great film, but it is a lot better than much of this hack and slash type historical fiction. The plot combines Ingmar Bergman's Seventh Seal with the Exorcist, in the guise of a CGI packed adventure yarn.
At the heart of the film is the friendship between two knights who have become disenchanted with the crusades and are caught up in transporting a suspected witch across a plague ravaged landscape. Nicholas Cage is actually quite engaging, and Ron Pearlman provides a solid dependable foil. They are part of a small band, none of them are exactly over-written, but then none of them are burdened with a tiresome backstory either. The film romps along its unpredictable way, like the Kevin Costner version of Robin Hood, you do just get caught up in it despite yourself. There were shades of Captain Kronos - Vampire Hunter, with a campy Hammer House of Horror feel to the whole thing. There is plenty of CGI, and the architecture all looks to be convenient Eastern European locations.
There were quite a few tense scenes that had me gripped, and the film was never predictable enough to be dull. Although it falls well short of the medieval feel of the Name of the Rose, or even Monty Python and the Holy Grail, there was sufficient low key grimy authenticity to draw you in.
It is probably a bit intense and depressing for younger children, but for most viewers it should be an engaging enough yarn that passes the time.
For fans of the title, also worth checking out the Donovan track, and the Halloween film, which despite the absence of Michael Myers is a very intense watch.
The movie starts out in 1235 AD as 3 women accused of witchcraft are hung and drowned. The priest wants the bodies pulled up from the water so he can perform a ritual on them so they can't return from the dead. As always, resurrected witches have more power than when they were alive. This was all done to show you the ritual book. We jump ahead to 1332 AD with the savoy Nickolas Cage and Ron Perlman fighting in the crusades. After 7 years of rape, killing, pillage and plunder in the name of God's only son, Cage decides this is wrong and calls it quits. Cage and Perlman leave the crusades. Through a series of events, they agree to escort a girl accused of witchcraft, to a group of monks 6 days travel away, so they can judge her. They believe she caused the plague. They get as a guide a man who sold fake church artifacts.
Weird things happen along the way as we suspect the girl really is a witch. The Cardinal had a very distinguished voice, which can be no one other than Christopher Lee. The special effects were good, but the plot lacked. The ending of the story was all wrong. The guide, who was a colorful character was severely under utilized.
PARENTAL GUIDE: no nudity, sex, or f-bombs.
on 28 March 2013
On watching the trailer to Season of the Witch, I found myself thoroughly captivated by it and desperate to watch it (just goes to show how good trailers can make money). The film, however, is the sort of film which at the time seems dull, but after considering what actually happened when it finishes, you find that you have actually enjoyed it.
The plot as a whole started off very promisingly as though it would be a thrilling, tension-filled film. However after about 40 minutes of the way in and they start their journey, the whole plot seems to die down considerably until it picks up again about 20 minutes from the end. The typical obstacles were encountered, and although the film tried to build tension, it seemed as though it just didn't care whether the audience was nervous for the characters or not.
A word on the acting: I thought that Nicholas Cage as Behmen was a stereotypical chain-mailed protagonist, but this is not necessarily a bad thing. A lot of other reviews say that his performance was boring and nothing special, but I think a film needs someone like that to hold the plot together. Ron Perlman as Felson was also an enjoyable character, and the relationship between the duo was enjoyable to watch on screen. Of the rest of the main cast, the acting was fairly average, with the exception of Claire Foy as the spooky witch (or not) girl, and Robert Sheehan as the wannabe knight, both of whom's performances were definitely worth mention.
On the whole, I felt that the film is OK if you want to spend the night in just watching something on the TV, however it's not a film which I would recommend highly to a friend. But for casual entertainment, I think this film is not as bad as critics have said.