The reviews are rolling in for Season of the Witch, Nicolas Cage's latest home movie. And, surprise! They are not very kind at all. This might be Nicolas Cage's worst movie, ever! Which would be a feat.
I can never remember if I am supposed to like Nicolas Cage sincerely and enjoy his movies ironically, or like him ironically and not enjoy his movies at all? (Or maybe I hate him sincerely and love his movies ironically? Liking stuff is so hard, sometimes!) Luckily, Nic Cage doesn't seem to make the distinction between sincerity and irony in his own life, so it's sort of pointless for me to try and figure it out on his behalf. One thing is for sure: Cage himself aside, his movies suck, sincerely. Season of the Witch is, apparently, no exception.
I know, though. Nicolas Cage, in a long-haired wig, playing a knight? In a wisecracking medieval buddy movie/road comedy apparently, uh, inspired by Ingmar Bergman's classic The Seventh Seal? How can this not be at least interestingly weird?
Apparently, it's not. In fact, it appears to be just flat-out bad. It's currently rocking a 3% "fresh" rating on critic aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes. That is phenomenally low, even for Cage: Lower than the 43% for The Sorcerer's Apprentice, which appears to have been released last year, for some reason; lower than the 33% for Knowing, the one about, I think, aliens?; lower than the 27% for Ghost Rider. And, yes, lower than the 15% for Cage's lady-punching, bee-ingesting opus Wicker Man.
What could be so bad about Season of the Witch? For starters, it's ugly! And dark, according to Jeannette Catsoulis of The New York Times:
[T]he cinematographer, Amir Mokri, conceals the magnificent Austrian Alps beneath a palette of sludge and fudge. The entire film seems to be happening on the other side of a dirty window - good news for the dreadful computer-generated effects, if not for our eyes. "At least it's not in 3-D," my viewing companion remarked
Also, the script sucks, writes the AP's Christy Lemire:
[Season of the Witch] takes place during the 14th century, but everyone speaks in contemporary language, which might have been acceptable if the dialogue were clever or intelligent or funny or, you know, good. Instead, Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman are the knights who say ... nothing of any particular note in a supernatural action thriller that's never actually thrilling... (Bragi Schut's screenplay vaguely hints at some sort of indictment of organized religion, then backs off in favor of one-liners and cheap scares.)
Peter Howell of the Toronto Star doesn't think anyone was even paying attention:
Did either Cage or Sena even bother reading Bragi F. Schut's patchwork script, before adjusting the wig, flicking on the camera and cashing the pay cheques?
Roger Ebert, using the grossest metaphor possible, expresses his disappointment with Cage and costar Ron Perlman:
You know I am a fan of Nic Cage and Ron Perlman (whose very existence made the "Hellboy" movies possible). Here, like cows, they devour the scenery, regurgitate it to a second stomach found only in actors and chew it as cud. It is a noble effort, but I prefer them in their straight-through Human Centipede mode.
But even if Ebert thinks he was trying, the real problem might be that Cage isn't even fun in this. The Los Angeles Times' Mark Olsen writes that
It is sort of required these days when discussing Nicolas Cage to make some mention of his ever-evolving hairstyles and personal quirks - the castle and the tax problems - but there are much more immediate issues at hand regarding Cage in "Season of the Witch."
In his latest film, the actor displays only the briefest flashes of the deep commitment to chaos he brings to his best work, as in his recent turns in the delightfully wacked-out "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans" or even the watchable junk of "Ghost Rider."
And yet—who cares what a bunch of writer nerds think? I will totally still see this.