Combustible Celluloid
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With: Nicolas Cage, Ron Perlman, Stephen Campbell Moore, Stephen Graham, Ulrich Thomsen, Claire Foy, Robert Sheehan, Christopher Lee
Written by: Bragi F. Schut
Directed by: Dominic Sena
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic elements, violence and disturbing content
Running Time: 95
Date: 01/04/2011

Season of the Witch (2011)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Witchy Girl

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Directed by Dominic Sena, Season of the Witch suffers from a general laziness. The action scenes are predictably shaky and awkward, the horror scenes are full of the usual CGI effects, and the period detail is often compromised for modern thrills (i.e. the characters head-butt each other during sword fights). Most of the actors simply look uncomfortable, suffering in their period costumes and period dialogue -- all except Perlman, who almost always looks like he's having a good time.

Shocked by what they're asked to do during the Crusades, knights Behmen (Nicolas Cage) and Felson (Ron Perlman) decide to quit. Branded as deserters and outcasts, they're captured and offered one chance for redemption: They must transport an accused witch (Claire Foy) through perilous terrain to a remote abbey so that she can be properly tried by monks. They're accompanied by a ragtag group that includes a wannabe knight (Robert Sheehan), a suspicious priest (Stephen Campbell Moore), and a swindler (Stephen Graham) who knows the way. Unfortunately, nothing is quite as it seems, and this band of heroes may have more on their hands than just a simple witch.

The long setup is dull, but the road trip itself actually has some strong sequences, notably the crossing of a creaky, rotting old bridge. But Sena and screenwriter Bragi F. Schut try to end their tale with a big surprise, and their logic falls flat. On the upside, there are some interesting details on the Black Plague and witch trials of the 14th century, so it's not a total loss.

Fox's Blu-Ray release comes with 10 minutes of deleted scenes, two featurettes, "Becoming the Demon" and "On a Crusade," each about 6-8 minutes, and an alternate ending, running about 9 minutes, plus a trailer. A second disc includes a digital copy. Quality is excellent.

Best Buy Co, Inc.