What did Owen Gleiberman say about my hair? DOES OWEN GLEIBERMAN PAY MY BILLS??
Even Nic Cage apologists have been at a loss to defend Season Of The Witch, which opened this past weekend to a meager box office take and scathing reviews. It scored 5% on the Tomatometer at Rotten Tomatoes; to put that in context, Yogi Bear scored 13%.
A sampling of some of the takedowns Mr. Cage has received for this cinematic misstep:
If you have ever pictured Nicolas Cage as a crusading knight in the Middle Ages, then what are you doing picturing that? … This is the puffy-faced Nic Cage. The one who fights for Christ and Little Debbies and not necessarily in that order. … Season of the Witch is not only less than 100 minutes, it’s just plain less.
The real plague is the movie, a sci-fi hodgepodge of bad history and worse special effects. Director Dominic Sena allows the actors to mug outrageously in accents that range from fake British to bogus Jersey Shore. I may be making Season of the Witch sound like more fun than it is. Trust me, it’s as bloodless as a starved vampire. Instead of a review, it deserves a stake in the heart. Die, monster, die.
Season of the Witch begins in a Crusade taking place after the Crusades, in a 14th Century for Dummies about as immersive and real as the Ohio State Renaissance Festival.
Bragi Schut’s screenplay can’t decide whether to be idiotic or flat-out offensive and ultimately goes for both; if you believe that the big problem with the Middle Ages was that the Church didn’t burn enough witches and heretics, then this is the movie for you. I briefly wondered whether the producers of “Season of the Witch” were going for the Christian audience, à la the “Chronicles of Narnia” series, but then I remembered that this is a Nicolas Cage movie made in Hungary, and therefore everything that sucks about it should be ascribed to befuddlement and institutional incompetence rather than strategy.
The screenplay is like a transcription of a Dungeons and Dragons session. … The “performances” are like clueless imitations of Monty Python by actors who don’t understand comedy. … Cage’s Behman surely should be accused of witchcraft himself, what with his remarkably progressive ideas about fair trials and his magical-seeming notions about the germ theory of infection: I’m not sure where a 14th-century knight would get the idea that disinfecting a wound with alcohol is the thing to do, but Satan seems like as good a guess as any. I might guess that Satan is behind this turgid flick, which is neither gory enough to please splatter fans nor witty enough to please anyone else.
It’s got videogame-from-hell F/X, plus jousting, plus Cage in tangled long hair he seems to have mistakenly put in the washing machine.
A reliable distinction can be drawn between movies that aren’t shown at all prior to their Friday opening—studios and distributors usually know when they’ve got a total disaster on their hands—and those that aren’t unveiled until Wednesday, so that bad reviews and poisonous buzz won’t destroy their first weekend at the box office. A finer distinction can be drawn between movies that are previewed on Wednesday evening (disastrousness almost guaranteed) and movies that are first screened on Wednesday afternoon (probably awful, but you never know). “Season of the Witch” was screened in Los Angeles at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, but it should have been shown around 6 or 7.
As far as legendary odysseys go, [Cage’s] is pitifully uneventful and lethargic, marked by a fleeting run-in with hellish wolves as well as what may be the cinema’s all-time least thrilling rickety bridge-crossing sequence. Along the way, Cage’s hero wrestles with guilt over the accidental murder of an innocent woman, indiscreetly leers at his caged young hottie cargo, espouses his disgust for organized religion’s earthly leaders, and decapitates possessed monks with the aid of pitiful CG effects. In other words, it’s The Crucible, except with real magic creatures, copious Cage bon mots (to Felson during one clash: “Whoever slays the most men buys drinks!”), and the incomparably ridiculous sight of Perlman head-butting Beelzebub.
Unfortunately, it’s not this Beelzebub.