Critical Mass: ‘Season of the Witch’

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Just when it seemed like Nicolas Cage had managed to take his gonzo acting for the back-row style of performance in ever-schlockier productions and turn it into a career asset, ‘Season of the Witch’ comes along and throws a curveball at everyone expecting another goony hoot fest.

Hard as it may be to believe, Cage appears to be taking this story of 14th century knights escorting an accused witch to a monastary totally seriously. Or at least in a more muted manner than his nicely packaged YouTube highlight reels would lead you to expect.

Now it’s the critics who seem to be having a Cage-level freakout on Cage himself, who most say is reason No. 1 why this swords-and-sorcery romp is a collosal waste of time.

And not since ‘The Social Network’ or ‘Toy Story 3' have the critics been this united in a single opinion on a film. Unfortunately for ‘Season of the Witch,’ that united opinion isn’t positive.


‘What’s most disappointing, though, is how Cage seems to be sleepwalking through so much of it,’ writes Times reviewer Mark Olsen. ‘There are only occasional glimmers of Cage’s singularly eccentric line-readings or moments when he turns conventional reaction shots on their head. Mostly they crop up just enough to serve as a reminder of their absence.’

USA Today’s Scott Bowles piles on, complaining, ‘Fish-out-of-water casting shouldn’t be a problem for Cage, who regularly flourishes in unlikely roles. But he and co-star Ron Perlman are a little too clever, too sardonic and way too contemporary to convince as swordsmen in the 1300s.’

New York Times reviewer Jeannette Catsoulis says Cage is ‘as convincing a Crusader as he was a combustible biker in ‘Ghost Rider,’ ' and no, that’s not a compliment.

Roger Ebert is no fan of the film, but at least he goes (somewhat) easier on Cage: ‘You know I am a fan of Nic Cage and Ron Perlman... Here, like cows, they devour the scenery, regurgitate it to a second stomach found only in actors and chew it as cud.’

Ridiculously bored by the whole enterprise, critic Peter Howell of the Toronto Star has dreamed up some supernatural conspiracies to explain the inanity of what he was forced to see: ‘I’m convinced the glazed face of Cage’s renegade knight Behmen ... is due not to pressure from his ridiculous hairpiece, which resembles misplaced seaweed, but rather to devilish doings.’

That’s right: the devil himself was behind this film. Maybe there is something to this whole ‘banality of evil’ thing after all.

— Patrick Kevin Day