Season of the Witch takes us to the Crusades, where two kooky knights trade banter as they attempt to take a witch to some holy ground to cure the plague. Exciting if done right, especially so when you’re letting Nicholas Cage be Cage and Ron Pearlman be Pearlman. Their opening scene where they’re one step away from winking at the camera before plunging into battle is great. Then, out of the blue (lots of blue actually, and orange), someone began taking this material seriously. All hell breaks loose, and that has nothing to do with the witch.
See, Season simply dies out, wasting as much time as it can with a ridiculous, pointless trek across the Hollywood favorite that is the rickety old bridge. Wolves attack, and certainly because Hollywood has a current love affair with the critters. Sure, it’s all to pick off a few characters, but instead of rolling eyes at the shape-shifting creatures, it’s exciting enough that something is actually happening. Characters aren’t just moping around discussing if the girl they have with them is a witch (we know she is), trading religious ideals, or otherwise trying to make a statement.
The script as credited to Bragi F. Schut has no real character about it, just glimpses. They jump all over the place, cracking jokes one second, dead serious the next. Tone is a concern, mostly because it’s confusing about what you’re supposed to think during this road movie… err, dirt/town/forest movie.
By the end, Season has landed firmly into priest zombie territory, because that’s obviously what everyone was expecting once the film got off the ground and actually started moving. CG creatures (aside from wolves) begin their attack, Cage does his best to look like he’s actually struggling with them, and the happy/non-happy ending arrives.
Season is downright preposterous fantasy (with a real backdrop), and that’s fine if you play with it. Unfortunately, whether via the studio, director Dominic Sena, or the script, somewhere down the movie political lines somebody screwed this one up, having little clue as to what they had. Oh, it’s sloppy too, one of the final battles containing a flipped, repeated shot of some feet landing on the dusty floor. It was brazen to pull something like that off back in the ’50s let alone now. Had that campy, summer movie appeal remained, it would have been hilarious. Unfortunately, it ends up like the film: obvious, cheap, and trying to pull one over on the audience.
Take note: Black lights did not exist in the the 1300’s. Late, middle, early 1300’s doesn’t matter. Hell, you can even move into the 1400’s if you want. So, why then are Pearlman and Cage glowing purple when they’re forced into a dungeon cell around 23-minutes in? Were that the sole near-criminal color timing offense for Season, there wouldn’t be much to complain about, but no. That would be too easy. Far too often half of the actor’s face is slathered in orange, the other half in blue. Oh, and the finale lit entirely by torches? Teal. Yep. That makes total sense.
So, it’s hideous to look at, not because the colors aren’t brightly saturated, but because it’s so darned unoriginal you want to start flinging bricks at the person who continually thinks this is okay. Even a flogging would be acceptable as long as this nasty trend finds an end.
Enough about colors, mostly because there isn’t much to talk about. Elsewhere, Season looks fine. Detail is wonderfully rich, defined, and clean. In fact, so clean is this one that there’s a hint some digital is mixed in with the film stock. The opening pan of the town as three woman are convicted of their witching ways doesn’t feature a lick of grain and yet offers the finest of the fine as far as detail is concerned. Nic Cage is constantly a source of high fidelity facial detail, at times absurdly textured, while oddly Pearlman never quite clicks on the same level. No signs of foul play though, and it’s consistent.
A little ringing here and there hampers the fun, creating edges that lack some of the purity they need to really leap off the screen. That’s minor in the scheme of things; produce some limited ringing for everything if you need too if it will forever eliminate the boring color scheme of nearly every movie since 2000 ever. Black levels prove sufficient, dominating the screen at times with their power, keeping a firm grasp on the need to preserve shadow detail.
A fairly rousing DTS-HD mix highlights this disc, the fun, aggressive sound design seemingly coming from the part of the movie that could have been: Ridiculous, exaggerated, and full of energy. Battle scenes have plenty of life and vigor to push sword clashes and hacked of up bodies right into your theater. Who doesn’t want that?
Horse drawn carriages rock the sub as they pass, the mix picking them up as they travel to the sides or behind. Waves smash into the shoreline at 12:02, and by that point, you will have adjusted to the rather dim volume of this mix (or earlier now that you’ve actually read this). It’s one you’ll have to crank up a few notches to experience right.
Still, when the audio makes its move again, it starts pushing howling wolves into the surrounds while our characters waste time in the forest, and heavy winds caused by the witch behind this mess create a swirl effect that is impossible to miss. This is far more fun to listen too than is to look at (or watch for that matter).
No extras as this is based on a rental copy. Fox does not provide screeners in time for release.