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The Warsaw Voice » World of Movies » January 27, 2011
Film review
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Season of the Witch
January 27, 2011   
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“Quest” stories in which a band of characters struggle along perilous trails to reach a goal have for decades been a movie-friendly theme, the Lord of the Rings saga being a case in point. Still, Dominic Sena (Swordfish, Gone in 60 seconds, California) must have found it really hard to decide what kind of movie he really wanted to make. Season of the Witch starts off as a dark, Dracula-esque horror flick before it morphs into an adventure movie about crusaders, much like Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven, and then it continues for an hour or so as a knight’s tale like 13th Warrior or King Arthur. In the final scenes, it revisits the theme of a fight against evil forces, this time with a Van Helsing touch to it. Whichever genre it tries to be, the movie fails to impress, but it is quite watchable nonetheless, probably because its runtime stands at just 95 minutes.

Behmen (Nicolas Cage—Lord of War, Leaving Las Vegas, the National Treasure series) is a veteran crusader, a soldier in countless battles who, while flawless and fearless, has a sense of humor and a nice line in self-deprecating irony as well. After years on duty, his faith in the rightness of crusades vanishes when one day, yet another campaign ends in the slaughter of women and children in a conquered city. Together with his inseparable companion Felson (Ron Perlman—the Hellboy series, Alien 4, The Name of the Rose), he defects from the army and heads back to Europe. Once he arrives, he gets into trouble—as a deserter, he is approached with an offer he can’t refuse. His task is to escort a young woman, a suspected witch, to a remote abbey. The girl’s alleged magic is powerful, as a terrible and incurable plague is wreaking havoc across huge swathes of Europe. Priests are blaming the young witch, as she was regularly seen in areas which were subsequently struck by the plague. For centuries, monks in the aforementioned abbey have been the keepers of a book of magic formulas and rituals which apparently can tame, incapacitate and even destroy the most resistant and vicious demons.

Together with Behmen and Felson, the escort party is made up of six people, including the priest who came up with the whole project, an elderly knight who lost his wife and two daughters to the plague, a guide who is an itinerant trader in fake relics released from the stocks in return for accepting the mission, and a young blood keen to show off his courage so he can earn himself the title of a knight. The not-so-well picked company embark on a journey during which they will clash with supernatural adversaries and will need to be on guard against each other. They also need to keep a careful eye on the girl they are escorting who, though she claims to be innocent, proves amazingly strong and seems to be extremely talented when it comes to manipulating the men around her, even when she is locked in a cage.

The final battle that unfolds behind the walls of the abbey reveals what the plot is all about. As befits a decent crime story, in the final scenes all mysterious events that occurred along the way are explained and the main characters face their ultimate challenge.
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