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Before I get into discussing Nic Cage’s latest masterpiece, Season of the Witch, I want to discuss an article I read in the New York Times recently in which it is revealed that Nic Cage, the genius, left his role as the villain in this week’s The Green Hornet because director Michel Gondry wouldn’t let him use a Jamaican accent. WTF Michel? Do you think you know better than Nic Cage? Well, you don’t. Sure, you may think Cage’s replacement, Christoph Waltz was the best part of Quentin Tarantino’s epic Inglourious Basterds , and you may think Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) is a truly inventive auteur, but this movie had the chance to be something truly special: A Nic Cage does a Jamaican accent film.
But the good news is, while we wait for Cage to find a role to try on his accent, we can watch him not try an accent in Season of the Witch, a movie about 14th century knights. And witches. And Ron Perlman headbutting the devil. It takes a ballsy movie to endorse medieval witch hunts, and that’s what this movie is: BALLSY. Besides, Cage’s character goes through a crisis of faith and the Church kind of comes across as rather hypocritical, so we probably shouldn’t be too offended by the rather misogynistic suggestion that witches caused the Bubonic Plague. Plus, there’s a last act twist that slightly nullifies the sexism. So it’s probably about as offensive as Neil Labute’s The Wicker Man (also starring Cage), but more because the themes probably got confused in the umpteenth rewrite than because the director obviously has issues with women.
Speaking of the Plague, however, have you ever imagined what people infected with it look like? Well, in Season of the Witch, they look a bit like the trolls in Lord of the Rings, but with extra-grotesque protrusions from random parts of the body, which then leak pus all over the place. Oddly, Cage encounters many plague infected people throughout the film, but never contracts it himself, presumably because he’s a BADASS. A badass with a conscience. One of the victims of the plague is the Bishop, played by the one and only (and awesome) Christopher Lee, of Hammer Horror film fame, whose face is unrecognizable, but whose voice is the exact opposite. Christopher Lee also starred in the original Wicker Man, and was replaced by Kathy Bates in the remake. I wonder if Cage and Lee talked about that on set? Although, in all that make-up it might have been difficult for Lee to speak, so probably not.
But back to the plot. In the opening montage, Cage and the also awesome Ron Perlman play a couple of rambunctious knights on Crusade, alternating between killing heathens and banging chicks at the local tavern. But after about six years, Cage’s character, Behman, realizes that killing innocent women is a bad thing, and bounces with his partner in tow. As directed by Dominic Sena (the auteur behind Gone in 60 Seconds), these Crusade scenes are spectacularly artificial, like Monty Python and the Holy Grail directed by Zack Snyder. When these two decide to desert and walk home (to Romania? I dunno where these knights are from, but you know this was filmed in one of those Northeast European countries with an “ia” at the end of its name Uwe Boll-style), we are privy to their brotherly love, which reveals itself in good-natured insults about each-others sexual endeavours and bodily odour, all delivered in faux-medieval dialogue that you would expect to come with a British accent, but doesn’t. Cage’s delivery, in particular, sounds quite poetic.
Anyways, once they get captured for desertion in a plague-ridden and very muddy town, Christopher Lee’s bishop offers them clemency if they deliver a witch to a sanctuary where she can be disposed of properly. I guess it’s supposed to be like going to the veterinarian to get your rabid dog put down instead of shooting it in the head. Of course, Behman, still feeling some male guilt over those women he murdered on the Crusades, feels rather conflicted about this, and starts to wonder if she’s really a witch or not. But that game’s pretty much up after she calls a pack of demon-wolves to kill everyone. I’ve hear it said by some blasphemous souls that this movie is a bore, mostly because Cage plays it (relatively) straight. I disagree. Cage’s trademark consternating facial expression is perfect for this role. Besides, we have demon-wolves and Ron Perlman to spice things up. Did I mention that he headbutts the devil? Plus, we get a pretty great Cage haircut. I dunno if it rivals Cage’s greatest of all time hair in Con-Air, but it’s at least equal to his mangy mullet in Bangkok Dangerous, and probably equally as dirty (there were no showers in the 14th Century). All in all, this film is, obviously, a masterpiece. Way better than the motherfucking Green Hornet is going to be, anyways.
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