SEASON OF THE WITCH 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. Disillusioned, defected knights Behmen and Felson (Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman) retreat home across a hotchpotch Europe, and turn off into a Hammer film. Arriving at a plague-eaten town, our heroes are conscripted into a party charged with transporting an accused witch across perilous terrain to a cathedral town, where her trial supposedly will lift the pox from the land. Hackneyed scenes — the thousandth iteration of fantasy-adventure fan favorite moments like crossing a rotted-through rope bridge or crying in midbattle: "The head! Cut off the head!" — are performed with a ceremonious straight face, as is awful "camaraderie" banter between Cage and Perlman ("The ale is on you, tonight!"). At points along the dark journey, director Dominic Sena's treatment seems bracing because it's so basic; at other times, that's merely autopilot, melees done in uniform quick-cut action montages, cycling through gouging and hacking members of the merry band. The makeup department's glommed-on plague pustules are fantastic, but the concession to modern technology in a badly rendered last-act CGI demon, cut and pasted from a Diablo II screen-grab, is so eminently lame as to cure all fear of hellfire. (Nick Pinkerton) (Citywide)
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