Image: Courtesy of Alliance Films
Dir: Dominic Sena (Whiteout, Gone in Sixty Seconds, Swordfish)
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Claire Foy, Ron Perlman, Ulrich Thomsen, Robert Sheehan, Stephen Campbell Moore, Stephen Graham, Christopher Lee
Reason to see: I tend to like historical adventure type films, although the shift in release date from 2010 to 2011 had me a bit leery.
It's amazing to think back on how Season of the Witch was the first film I saw theatrically in 2011 during a freaking snowstorm, and what an interesting way to start off the year. My expectations were low as the film was pushed from 2010 to January 2011 (I can't remember another film pushed *to* a January releases). Plus, it's set during a time of witch-hunting and the plot is centred on that activity, and I'm not a big fan of that in general. But, there was just something about it that kept me being curious about the film and I really like the cast so I was going to give it a chance. I'm glad I did.
The film is centred on Behmen (Nicolas Cage) and his buddy Felson (Ron Perlman), both Crusaders more keen on battles and fighting itself over whom or what they are fighting for. But the light eventually does dawn on considering the morality of their actions, which creates conflict in their tasks of delivering the supposed plague-causing witch to stand for her 'crimes'.
Many things about the film surprized me, I loved Ron Perlmas as Felson who is often the comic relief of the film and I loved how they didn't make him simply a brute because he can (and is) much more. I was thrilled to see Ulrich Thomsen (Fear Me Not / Den du frygter), who plays the regal widower Eckhart and fits in perfectly in this setting. Claire Foy is also great as The Girl, who had a challenge of limited mobility during the film but worked very with those limitations. I liked how the film given the setting, didn't exclusively present the angle of 'witches are evil!', and which was very refreshing. It's certainly has that tone from a lot, but not all, of the characters.
There are also lots of horror influences here, and a fair amount of disturbing images, actions and ideas, but it still maintains the structure and tone of an adventure films with a 'quest-like' task and band of travellers, and those are two things I almost always enjoy in stories and I certainly did here. Although it's easily Nicolas Cage's film, it's rounded out with a great supporting cast of new and familiar faces that bring it all together.
Is the film perfect? No, nowhere near. The dialogue is in particular can be bit off, even though the blending of 'historical' and current day language often was entertaining, it also fall flat. I did love Ulrich Thomsen as Eckhart, enjoyed seeing Ron Perlman as the sidekick character and enjoyed the quest-like story. Overall it was fun, kept me engaged and would easily be a film I'd watch again.
- 2 Featurettes: Featurette 1 (8 minutes) film clips, behind the scenes, interviews with producer Alex Gartner, Tippett Studio, Art Director Nathan Fredenburg, Tippet Studio, computer graphics supervisor Aharon Bourland, Tippett Studio, Animation Supervisor James W. Brown, Tippet Studio compositing supervisor David Schnee on creating the effects for characters in the film including, the complicated nature of characters and what they go through that's represented by the effects, different design ideas, creative problem solving from re-shoots to changes of changes along the way, plus showing some of the scenes and how they were designed shot-by-shot with the effects. Featurette 2: On a Crusade (6 minutes) film clips, behind the scenes, rehearsals, storyboards and interviews with producer Alex Gartner, stunt coordinator Andy Armstrong, 2nd unit director Vic Armstrong on the appeal of action and battle scenes, the motivation behind including the epic battle scenes, and how to show the passage of time thought the crusades, signature movements for Ron Perlman & Nicolas Cage's characters and how they maximized using a small number of people and ending up with it looking like thousands. I loved this featurette - it was so cool see it go from idea to rehearsal to the final sequences, it really beautifully comes to life.
- Deleted Scenes (7 scenes, 10 minutes) combination of deleted and extended scenes including a 'explainy' opening scene/character introduction with voice over, extended prologue, additional scene with Christopher Lee, and some really great atmospheric scenes. I loved that they are all finished and easily could have been incorporated into the film with full effects, costumes, lighting, etc.
- Alternate Ending (9 minutes) Wow, really long alternate ending and hard to share without over sharing! I liked getting to see a different interpretation but I like what they decided to go with in the actual film.
- Theatrical Trailer
Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it
I'll watch it again
I'd recommend it as light adventure flick with some horror tones
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© Shannon Ridler, 2011
Originally reviewed for Theatrical Release - January 24, 2011
(Left to right) Nicolas Cage and Claire Foy star in SEASON OF THE WITCH, an Alliance Films' release. © 2010 Season of the Witch Distributions, LLC All Rights Reserved. Photo Credit Egon Endrenyi
Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman star SEASON OF THE WITCH, an Alliance Films' release. Photo Credit Egon Endrenyi
(Left to right.) Stephen Campbell Moore, Nicolas Cage, and Ulrich Thomsen star in SEASON OF THE WITCH, an Alliance Films' release. © 2010 Season of the Witch Distributions, LLC All Rights Reserved. Photo Credit Egon Endrenyi