Season of the Witch Review

Published 4 years ago by , Updated January 8th, 2011 at 8:52 pm,

season of the witch review Season of the Witch Review
Screen Rant’s Paul Young reviews Season of the Witch

Traditionally January is set aside as the month studios release movies for which they have low expectations of success. Every once in a while a rare gem will emerge from the dross that is usually offered at this time of year – unfortunately or maybe unsurprisingly, Season of the Witch isn’t that rare gem.

However, that’s not to say that the film was a total letdown. Even though Season of the Witch is wrought full of problems ranging from weak dialog via poorly delivered, uninspired one-liners – to under developed characters and CG effects reminiscent of a Saturday night SyFy channel original film… I managed to walk out of the theater pleasantly surprised at how much I actually enjoyed it.

Season of the Witch stars Nicolas Cage as Behmen, a knight in the time of the 14th century Crusades, who along with his best friend and battle partner Felson (Ron Perlman) grow tired of killing sinners and unbelievers in the name of God for the Church of England. After 12 years of fighting side-by-side they decide it’s time to break their vow by leaving “God’s” army and are branded as deserters.

Soon after, their travels bring them to a village which is besieged by a mysterious plague which the local monks are certain was brought about by the appearance of a girl whom they accuse of being a witch. After Behmen and Felson are revealed as traitors to the Church, they strike a bargain with the Cardinal D’Ambroise – a virtually unrecognizable Christopher Lee. In exchange for their freedom, the knights agree to escort a monk named Debelzaq (Stephen Moore) and a local man named Eckhart (Ulrich Thomsen) to a monastery which is four days away.

Before they leave they pick up a guide named Hagamar (Stephen Graham) and an altar boy named Kay (Robert Sheehan). Along the way the witch, Anna (Claire Foy), gets into their heads and uses their weaknesses against them in an attempt to escape. Ultimately Behmen, Felson and Kay have a final showdown with Anna as they realize there is more to her evil ways than they first suspected.

season of the witch final f Season of the Witch Review

Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman prepare to battle evil in a scene from 'Season of the Witch'

Season of the Witch should have been a better film because the story had good potential. Writer Bragi Schut does a decent job of keeping the story moving along without letting it get bogged down in one place for too long – unfortunately, the dialog for the film comes across as very heavy – every word seems to trip and bumble off of  the actors lips. Director Dominic Sena (Whiteout) doesn’t seem to help much; it feels like he told the actors to OVER. EMPHASIZE. EVERY. WORD. THEY. SAY as if each line was a witch they should be stabbing with a sword.

Even though Cage and Perlman’s characters are supposed to be long time friends there is very little chemistry between them and most of the “buddy” style banter – “You’re buying the drinks tonight” or “She stole a year’s worth of your salary” – feels forced and doesn’t come across with any emotion at all. I know I’m supposed to care about the relationship between these two long time warriors but at the end of the day I just don’t.

On a positive note, despite of all the above mentioned flaws there was something about Season of the Witch I found to be entertaining in a Beastmaster or 13th Warrior sort of way – when all is said and done, isn’t a film supposed to entertain?

A lot of other critics and reviewers – OK almost all of them – are giving this movie a very, very low score. It’s currently sitting at a 3% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 6.2 on IMDb but the film opened in third place on Friday while only showing on half the number of screens as True Grit and Little Fockers. Once again it turns out that while it might be fun to totally trash a film during a review, it doesn’t always mean the critic or reviewer has their finger on the pulse of what audiences are interested in seeing.

Season of the Witch may not be worth seeing for full price at an evening show, but if you’ve already watched everything else available in theaters right now and you happen to catch the midday matinee, then you should have a pleasant enough time.

Our Rating:

2 out of 5

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  1. Great review. I may check this out


  3. You should review King’s Speech instead of garbage.

  4. Paul, I think you meant “besieged” instead of “beseeched” there!

    • HAH! Right you are Big D. Proper spelling of the wrong word :)

  5. The Church of England started in the early 1500s, that is the 16th century. I don’t think the Church of England ever went on the Crusades. Next thing you tell me is they are making a musical about Hitler or some is stupid enough to make a Broadway play about Spiderman.

    • I didn’t write the plot. All I can tell you is they called it the “King’s” Holy War.

      • Hey Paul, were you forced at gun point to see this? :)

        • Nope I volunteered…remember I’m the guy that admits to watching films made by The Asylum…a poor Nic Cage movie doesn’t scare me :)

          • It wasn’t a bad film, a bit unremarkable and ultimately forgettable. As you said, it’s a January movie and one of those best watched on a slow day in a cheap theater. It’s rare to watch a movie where Nicolas Cage isn’t being, well, Nicolas Cage. A few of the supporting actors were quite good in their roles and Ron Perlman made it enjoyable enough. There was never a single scene that startled the audience when I watched, which is a shame since several scenes were meant to have that intent.

            (Kudos for the nod to The 13th Warrior.)

            • I LOVED The 13th Warrior!!

              • Me too.

                • me three

      • Come on guys pick up a history book. Several kings from the 11th century on called for warriors to take back the Holy Lands. Richard the Lionheart was one well known personality, but he wasnt the first nor the last to call on this.

    • The Church of England has existed as an entity since the Synod of Hertford in 672ish. It seceded from papal control during the English Reformation, but this does not mean there was no Church of England prior to that point.

      What’s more interesting is what kind of crusades the knights could have been on during the 14th century since the crusades in the Holy Land effectively ended in 1304 when the Mamluks captured the last remaining stronghold, Arwad. The later crusades was mostly against Ottoman pirates and had more to do with economic interests than religion.

  6. Yeah i may skip this one…

    • And yet you watched Little Fockers??? I think a bad Nic Cage flick is definitely the lesser of the two evils.

  7. Paul,

    Many reviews mention a very disappointing ending. Without giving it away can you comment about that? Did you find the ending also to be a disappointment?

    • I wouldn’t say the ending was disappointing just underwhelming. The thought behind it and some of the action was actually pretty good but the bad CG effects just distracts from the overall feel.

      • @Paul – Have you seen/heard of a Sean Bean film with a very, very similiar sounding storyline called BLACK DEATH? Its been making the rouns at film festivals in 2010 and it looks like it will have a limited theatrical release this year. The few reviews I rad about about make it sound like it is whay SEASON OF TEH WITCH should have been but without the more expensive effects and all.

  8. my concern is some of the cheesy lines quoted in the review .
    They dont sound lke things you would hear medieval knights say.

    • In all fairness, it’s hard, or in fact impossible to know how medieval knights would have spoken.

      • You have a good point Sam. :)

      • Most likely it would have been a dialect of Langue d’oil or old Norman. It would most certainly not be English.

        Anyways, as long as we don’t have to listen to some Texan drawl or Cockney slang, I’ll let most language issues slide in the interest of entertainment value in pictures like this.

  9. Really bad movie. Dialogue was bad, Nic was bad too. You can’t do movies like these with American accents. That’s what killed Valkyrie too.
    I don’t mind watching bad movies that are good, i.e. The Expendables, but Season of the Witch you can feel they did without inspiration or effort.

    • I just cant see a knight “your buying the drinks tonight, or She stole half your salary “!
      It’s The Season of The Witch not The Hangover.

    • I would rather listen to an american accent before i listen to tom cruise attempt a german accent….

    • Are British accents better?

      Don’t get me wrong; I’m all for authentic accents in films (languages too), but if it’s an American or other English-speaking movie, as long as the acting, the characterizations, are well-done, the accents actors use to speak their lines matter much, MUCH less to me.

      I thought Tom Cruise did an excellent job in his portrayal in “Valkyrie” (especially after having seen documentaries on the man he played). I believe he even DID speak a small bit of German when reciting the letter at the very beginning.

      I also liked Morgan Freeman’s Middle Eastern portrayal (though, granted, he did have somewhat better success with his accent than Kevin Costner had with his) in “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves”.

      Of course, Gary Oldman played a great Dracula in “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” (the movie wasn’t so hot, but his portrayal was quite good), but he’s English, not Romanian. In fact, British actors seem to play A LOT of roles from around the world.

      American audiences seem to love this particular peculiarity of movie-making…That’s why we have so many people on this site and around comicdom who are looking VERY forward to “Thor”, a film about Norse deities who speak with superb British accents.

      I would suggest that the accents spoken are less significant than the portrayals those accents MIGHT improve.

      Of course, you COULD simply train yourself to be the ultimate polyglot.


      • @ Archaeon: In all fairness, Gary Oldman can act the s**t out of anything. No dialect is impossible for him. He nails every accent to perfection. ;)

        • Jessie, I agree…I was just making the point that he, as a person, was not an ACTUAL Romanian. I happen to know, from experience, that he nailed the accent, however. :D

          • Humzz? You guys dont know what you talking about!
            Tho i think Gary Oldman it’s an amaizing actor, in Bram Stoker’s Dracula he wasnt even close to speaking Romanian!
            None of the cast was in fact, just some well placed words in good order but the rest of the romanian dialogues where just totally gibberish!
            Not to mention the costumes that where just 1000 light years away from the history facts, masks and weapons that didnt belong there.
            I am from Romania and i know :)

            • swoop…

              I am too. At the beginning of the film (before his beloved dies), Oldman DID speak Romanian. After that, for the rest of the film, he spoke English with a (granted, thickened) Romanian accent. I never said anything about the rest of the cast or the rest of the film (except Oldman).

              As for the costumes and weaponry and most of the other aspects of the film, yes, they were, indeed, pure Hollywood. That, however, was fully expected.

  10. ROFL :D

  11. I saw this movie over the weekend and would agree with Paul’s assessment. I would probably give it an extra .5 to a full star. But Paul, didn’t the trailer give the possibility that the girl was innocent? From your post, “Along the way the witch, Anna (Claire Foy), gets into their heads and uses their weaknesses against them in an attempt to escape. Ultimately Behmen, Felson and Kay have a final showdown with Anna as they realize there is more to her evil ways than they first suspected”, it would seem you are giving away a possible spoiler. But who knows; it wouldn’t be the first time (nor the last) my radar was totally off.

  12. Sorry to read this was kind of looking forward to seeing this film.

    • you should watch it anyway who cares what they say this movie was awesome

  13. Under the assumption that a certain number of posters are American, I think it’s hilarious that some would complain about accents. I watch American based TV shows and if anyone has the SLIGHTEST accent, there’s subtitles!! There’s a cereal commercial that featured a British couple, talking with their British accents; a few months after seeing it on a Canadian channel, I saw it on American TV and it had been redubbed without the hard to understand accents!
    Anyway, Cage has had a LOT of misses of late. I may check this one out on DVD. It’s been my experience that if a movie critic hates a movie, I want to see it. If they love a movie, I avoid it. My 2 cents…

  14. I went to see it for action and special effects, & fantasy which it had, & some surprising scenes [where the dead moved]. I didn’t go for the acting, so I wasn’t disappointed.
    It even followed historical data, which I wasn’t expecting either, like the a scene where the historical “bruised & bleeding” where beating themselves with whips [they got authority over the church during the black plague, where the people would listen them in churches instead of the priests]. The crusades killing etc…
    I know that the devil can’t raise anyone from the dead [even though I have a Christian friend who does], but it’s just for entertainment. The Catholic church looses it’s authority, & a boy has to read the exorcism, to cast out the demon. I also know it’s not a book that excises satan, but the spoken word of Faith, but it’s just a movie!
    In reality we have cast out demons before, my one friend has done exorcisms where you can see your breath in the room, it is quick & easy if you Know Jesus, but it’s a movie & Hollywood, so I understand they have to make exorcism look difficult like the devil has power. Naturally no one is accountable the devil made the girl do it, so she isn’t responsible, just a reflection of present society.
    So, I liked it action, some special effects & fantasy; go & see it unless you are looking for an acting classic like “Lawrence of Arabia” It definitely not that!

  15. ” weak dialog via poorly delivered, uninspired one-liners” –
    Pretty much sums up Cage’s performance in every film I have ever seen. ( Ok, I will give you Valley Girl.)

  16. “Season of the Witch stars Nicolas Cage as Behmen, a knight in the time of the 14th century Crusades, who along with his best friend and battle partner Felson (Ron Perlman) grow tired of killing sinners and unbelievers in the name of God for the Church of England”

    Just a historical correction…..The Church of England didnt start until the 1500′s, with King Henry VIII…… this would still actually be the Catholic Church…

  17. Oh, the dilemma of wanting to watch it because of Perlman and wanting to avoid it because of Cage!

  18. I saw this last night (for free) and Paul, your review is spot on. My favorite line was said by Ron Pearlman. He equates a situation with cockroaches. I couldn’t help but think, ‘Were cockroaches really all that plentiful in the Mid East during the Crusades?’ Ha-ha! 8)

    • I should also add that every time I Kay, I thought he was familiar. I got the impression that was either gay or a male prostitute or maybe both… then I read his name in the article: Robert Sheehan! He was both gay and a prostitute in “Red Riding!” VINDICATED!

  19. It annoys me when people think good movies suck this is the best movie i have ever seen i loved avatar but i loved this alot more than avatar i was on the edge of my seat the last thirty minutes of the movie this was a kick butt movie.

  20. Timothy, if this is the best movie you have ever seen then you need to see more movies.
    THE BEST you have seen in your ENTIRE life?

  21. Fantastic review, and it would seem that I was right all along about Nic Cage movies. They pretty much all will be doomed. I don’t care how much hocus pocus is in the film. Special effects can only go so far.

    • hi ady

  22. this was so not worth the trouble of goin to see. sure the special effects were cool, the make up was freakin horrifying and grotesque, but it was jus missing that something that makes me want to buy the movie when it comes out. normally ppl r happy when they leave the movies. i’ll tell u i was one of the few that left pissed.

    • Hi . . .

  23. thats my comment

  24. sdf

  25. Yea, but they didn’t exactly have time for a great script cause they were too busy making it a horror movie and making people wanna jump at most points and say ” oh my god, I thought it would be like this.” Or ” oh, yea. I understand now.”

  26. excellent, a bit of action, horror, comedy, and a twist.

  27. Outstanding review, I always thought of this movie as a DVD flick and it seems you confirmed that for me.

  28. it sucks coz ron and cage died.. the true seasoned veteran heroes and the stupid boy lived with the girl.. its seriously unfair!

  29. Thanks for an appreciative review–Season of the Witch was a little greater than the sum of its parts. Historical-adventure action movies are mostly B-grade but worth a chance for visual grandeur and doughty heroism. Nick Cage shows up for the job and cuts a strong profile for an aging warrior. Admittedly he & Perlman don’t cook up more chemistry than the script offers, but they soldier through, and the other actors seem satisfied to support rather than compete. Despite the dialog’s shortcomings, the plot built well to the end. The CG of the ultimate demon was only fair, but good medieval landscapes enhance a film that could hardly have been made a generation ago. Surprise treat: good wolf attack out of the mists in the Forest of Dread or whatevery they called it. Overall a good-looking cheap movie.