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    Season Of The Witch (Movie Review)


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    Season Of The Witch (Movie Review)

    Post  Paeter on January 8th 2011, 6:58 pm

    Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman star in this movie about two medieval knights who have agreed to take an alleged witch to a distant monastery to be tried and, if appropriate, ritually purged and executed in order to lift a plague cursing towns across the land.

    Performances by Cage and Perlman are on par for both, if not historically or culturally authentic. The characters themselves are pretty uninteresting, but their story helps make up for it, and the bond of friendship between them is strong and enjoyable to watch at times.

    The dialogue is best when dealing with the story conflict and themes presented and falls flat when it attempts to be humorous. But much of the shortcoming could also be placed at the feet of the actors on the last count.

    Still, this is a pretty good movie, especially if you give it a chance to get going. While not being creative in its shot design, the movie has a consistent dark and cold quality that fans of dark fantasy or movies like "Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans" will appreciate. It also has great, gory make-up effects and a few cool costume pieces that set the mood well.

    Fight scenes are appropriate, but sometimes very forgettable in the first half of the movie. Nothing innovative happening here, but they get the job done. Things really pick up, however, in the second half of the movie and near the end, where the special effects budget becomes much more visible and the supernatural becomes more common. The bad guys in this movie range from rabid wolves, to undead witches, zombies and even demons! Plenty to satisfy genre fans, though the best creature stuff is clustered near the end. If you're looking for something to scratch your dark fantasy itch, this movie is no breakthrough, but it will likely do the job.

    The themes and conflict presented in the movie were some of the strongest points. Cage and Perlman play knights in the Crusades who desert their unit after being part of a raid that resulted in the deaths of far more innocents than enemy soldiers. While they committed to serving God in the Crusades, and hold to that commitment, they make it clear that they no longer serve The Church.

    As is common in Hollywood flicks, especially in any content referencing the Crusades, organized religion in general (or the Catholic church in specific) is criticized while belief in God of some kind is still mostly tolerated or patronizingly praised. This viewpoint is a popular one today, as many verbally support the idea of being "spiritual" (a vague, undefined pop-culture term) while preferring to avoid "religion" or "organized religion".

    I'm certainly not saying that the Crusades were a good thing. Far from it. But we have a tendency to "throw the baby out with the bathwater" when it comes to Christianity. Even being a Christian while not engaging in a local, Bible-teaching church is counter to much of the New Testament books of the Bible, where letter upon letter is written about how to best "organize" believers into groups that can effectively grow and serve together.

    While the Knights in this movie probably made the best moral choice in leaving their unit and their commitment to the church as it was, it is a scenario that is far different from those today, where many forsake involvement in any Christian church anywhere because of vaguely suspected corruption in churches "in general" that can most times be dealt with through simple investigation, accountability and conversation.

    What's interesting about this movie is that it does not completely follow the normal path of this story type, where the church is corrupt and, as a result, basically wrong in nearly every way it can be. Instead, the church leadership is portrayed as largely corrupt (as it certainly was at that time), while the validity of some of it's claims holds true. Even the "outlandish" ones. Such as the existence of witches and demons. This creates a more complex view of religion for the film, in which religious leaders can be wrong and corrupt, without being completely wrong. This movie portrays some women being wrongly executed for witchcraft, but also shows that some were rightly accused. It's a mixed bag.

    Other complex questions are presented. In a moment of despair and frustration, Cage's character shouts that "A benevolent God would not ask these things of man!" The apparent conflict between God's all-loving character, his omnipotence and the evil we encounter in life is a common one for many. More than once in this movie, the nature of God's character is the subject of a sentence during difficult situations. If God is all-loving AND all-powerful, why does he allow evil to exist? There are certainly answers to this question from a biblical perspective, though this script doesn't provide any.

    There is a theme of redemption running through the movie with one of the characters that (as is common in Hollywood) implies that most any wrong can be made up for by sacrificing your own life in a good cause. Redemption through self-sacrifice is extremely common in fiction, though it runs counter to biblical teaching.

    Lastly, one of the chief concepts we have to accept in order to suspend disbelief and enter the world of the story, is that priests and monks are kind of like wizards, who use ancient religious texts (other than the Bible, oddly enough) like spell books to ward off or destroy the powers of evil. These "spell books" (which are just undefined religious rituals) seem to gain their power by simply being old and mysterious. God's power or direct involvement in defeating evil is left virtually out of the picture.

    Genre fans can certainly wait to rent this movie, though they are likely to enjoy more than a few parts and have plenty of good jumping off points for meaningful conversation.

    Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, violence and disturbing content.

    Quality: 8.0/10

    Relevance: 8.5/10

    -Seek The Truth!

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