I’ve really been on a roller-coaster ride with Nic Cage since I started this blog. My opinion of him has changed many times. It’s easy to just label him a lunatic and move on, but I’m not sure that tells the whole story. A real psycho wouldn’t have picked Season of the Witch. Allow me to explain.
I know it might seem like a wacky pick, but there really isn’t anything that weird going on here. This isn’t The Wickerman. It’s just a bad movie, cut from the same cloth as countless other bad movies. If not for Cage’s involvement it would’ve been a simple straight-to-video affair. It had all the makings of something you’d see on Starz at 3am.
That’s not to say there aren’t laughs here, because there definitely are. Cage and Ron Perlman* have a hilarious montage early on. They fight battles, they get drunk afterwards. I felt like that really set the tone. This movie definitely isn’t trying to do too much, lets put it that way.
*Perlman is the second most famous actor in the movie. The third is the guy who played Marvin Ranney on Band of Brothers and Al Capone on Boardwalk Empire. Legit shows to be sure, but I’m still not sure whether I like him or not.
When asked about his choices, Cage inevitably gives a simple answer: he picks the roles that sound fun to him. We’ve pretty much got to take that at face value now. There could be no other conceivable reason to make Season of the Witch. It can’t have been the biggest payday, and I seriously doubt anyone involved with it ever thought it would be critically acclaimed. Cage liked this project. Thats why he took it.
Is that still respectable if the movie is really bad? I think maybe it is. Take a look at this rap sheet: Ghost Rider, The Wickerman, Season of the Witch, Knowing, Bangkok Dangerous, Sorceror’s Apprentice, The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call- New Orleans. All of these movies came out within the last five years. I would imagine he handpicked all of them against the advice of his manager, agent, and everyone else involved with his career. He must just be a big fan of stuff like this. Of bad action movies.
I’m sure Cage probably is crazy. I just think there may be a simpler explanation for his choice in roles. We all have our bad stuff that we like. If I was an actor and I was offered an Ernest remake (currently watching Scared Stupid) I’d probably jump at the chance. This would come fresh on the heels of my starring role in Underworld 4. My indie pet project would be a buddy flick with Lambert. So yeah, I get how an actor’s choices based on what he actually likes could appear weird and counterproductive.
As to the movie, it sacrifices any chance at legitimate suspense in favor of cheap clichés. Cage and Perlman get caught deserting the crusades and sentenced to escort a witch to a monastery for judgement. At first we wonder whether the girl is actually a witch. This lasts all of 10 minutes before it is revealed via a series of sinister smiles that she is, in fact, a witch. They could’ve kept us guessing as long as they wanted. Chose not to. Or maybe forgot to?
It’s hard to care very much about a movie when the people who made it clearly don’t. I can’t imagine the process of writing something like this. ” Uh yeah-yeah, so, uh, there’s this knight. and he gets sentenced to escort this witch, and, you know, they have some adventures, and some people die, and there’s some gross stuff like maybe from the plague……and then I guess thats pretty much it.” I just can’t fathom the impetus, brainstorming sessions, screenwriting. Did anyone involved have any goals besides “make a few easy bucks”? Apparently only Cage. He’s the only one giving his all. Again….respectable?
I guess what I’m saying is that I’m less inclined to write off every decision Cage makes as mere lunacy when there is clearly a pattern here. His choices reflect bizarre tastes, but not an addled brain. Unless you consider those to be the same thing. Personally, I do not. I cannot. Too many bizarre tastes of my own. Let’s just say my boy Sweetums gave me Man of the Year for Christmas.
Cage’s death scene is really, really hilarious. One of the best I’ve ever seen. It, along with the early montage, made the movie for me.
I’ll tell you what was wack though: that satan “twist” at the end. Give me a break.