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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Dominic Sena
Cast:
Nicolas Cage, Ron Perlman, Stephen Campbell Moore, Claire Foy, Robbie Sheehan, Stephen Graham, Ulrich Thomsen, Christopher Lee
Writing Credits:
Bragi F. Schut

Tagline:
Not all souls can be saved.

Synopsis:
14th-century knights transport a suspected witch to a monastery, where monks deduce her powers could be the source of the black plague.

Box Office:
Budget
$40 million.
Opening Weekend
$10.612 million on 2816 screens.
Domestic Gross
$24.823 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 95 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 6/28/2011

Bonus:
• Deleted Scenes and Alternate Ending
• “Becoming the Demon” Featurette
• “On a Crusade” Featurette
• Digital Copy
• Trailer


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Season Of The Witch [Blu-Ray] (2011)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 6, 2011)

Time for another entry in the “Nicolas Cage Needs Money – NOW!” parade of movies. These are coming at us fast and furious; 2011’s Drive Angry and Season of the Witch came out within about six weeks of each other.

Angry was pretty lousy, but I thought I’d attempt to be open-minded and see if Cage could deliver anything interesting with Season. We start in the year 1235 and see a priest supervise the hanging of three alleged witches. It looks like he might’ve been right about one of them, as later comes back to life and kills him.

From there we leap ahead about 100 years to 1332 AD and find ourselves smack dab in the middle of the Crusades. Knight Behmen (Cage) and his pal Felson (Ron Perlman) literally spend years in battle before the nature of the carnage finally gets to him. Behmen and Felson abandon the Crusades and return to their homeland.

They don’t find a pleasant sight there, as the plague has decimated the realm. The authorities blame “The Black Witch” (Claire Foy) for this and want her delivered to a distant abbey so her powers can be negated and the plague brought to an end. Against his better judgment, Behmen agrees to this, though he requires the leaders to give her a fair trial. We follow Behmen and company along their journey and its inevitable complications, as they wonder whether or not the girl really is a witch.

I’ll give Season credit for one area: at least its prologue sets up some mystery. The opening creates the notion that the supernatural actually exists, and that becomes an important aspect of the main story. On its own, the prologue has no real purpose, but it introduces us to the idea that the world includes actual witches, and that makes the rest of the film more intriguing. After all, a story in which we view “witches” as nothing more than the objects of ignorance and superstition would be pretty one-sided and dull.

Though Season manages to create some mystery as we wonder if the girl is or isn’t a witch, it still comes across as pretty dull, unfortunately. The movie tries hard to create intrigue as Behmen and company travel with the alleged witch, but not much of it adds up to anything exciting. The participants wander from Point A to Point B, encounter some action and mystery, and there you go.

Little of this makes an impact on the viewer, as the trek lacks much drama. Part of this occurs because we never invest in any of the characters other than Behmen, Felson and the girl. They come across as cannon fodder and probably should’ve worn red shirts since it seems so likely most of them will end up dead.

We don’t dig into the main trio much more. Behmen is a cardboard crusader with a mild guilt complex and nothing more. Cage remains in “I need cash!” cruise control, so he does little to elevate the role. I like the sight of him with Perlman, as both are enjoyable enough performers to add mild pleasure, but they don’t do anything to elevate the material.

I will say that as a Cage paycheck movie, Season is better than most; at least it’s more coherent than Drive Angry and it tells an actual story. Unfortunately, that narrative simply isn’t very interesting.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B-/ Bonus C-

Season of the Witch appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. The movie came with a generally good presentation.

Dark scenes were the most problematic. The movie featured a moderate amount of day for night material, and those shots tended to look a bit murky; it became somewhat tough to discern the action in these low-light elements. Blacks were pretty good, though, and shadow detail was usually adequate.

Sharpness was fine. A few slightly soft wide shots occurred, but those were rare and not especially contentious. I noticed no issues with jagged edges or shimmering, and edge enhancement didn’t appear.

Source flaws remained absent, and colors were decent. The movie usually opted for a blue tint that gave it a chilly feel; some amber sequences also appeared, but the blues dominated. Within the design constraints, the hues were fine. The thickness of the low-light shots was the main concern here; paired with some softness, I thought this was a “B-“ image.

As for the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it tended to be acceptable but somewhat lackluster. My main issue stemmed from its volume level, as it was mastered low; even when I cranked up my receiver past its normal spot, the audio remained somewhat wan and punchless. Occasional moments of mild power occurred – such as during battles – but the track usually remained less dynamic than expected.

That dampened its impact and left it without real power. Audio quality was fine overall, though. Speech seemed concise and natural, and music showed reasonable clarity. Effects also sounded accurate and lacked distortion. None of these elements had much zing to them, though.

The soundfield was more satisfying, as the track used the five channels well. Battles and supernatural elements fared the best, as these opened up the spectrum in a satisfying way that involved the viewer – or would’ve if the mix had boasted more power. This was a decent track but it was too flat to deserve a grade above a “B-“.

Don’t expect a lot of extras here. Seven Deleted Scenes go for a total of nine minutes, 56 seconds. These include “Shore” (1:05), “Cardinal” (1:34), “Leaving Marburg” (1:11), “Wormwood Forest” (0:54), “Holy Water” (1:41), “Courtyard” (1:11”) and “Prologue Unrated” (2:20). We also find an Alternate Ending (9:20). The “Prologue Unrated” barely makes any changes, and the others tend to offer additional exposition, none of which adds to the story; these are all pretty forgettable omissions.

As for the “Alternate Ending”, don’t expect much from it. Actually, its content remains pretty similar – all the same things happen to the same characters – but the “Alternate” is a little less action-oriented and features a more human-seeming villain. It’s probably a superior conclusion because it’s not as silly, but it’s not a big change.

Two featurettes follow. Becoming the Demon lasts eight minutes, 29 seconds and provides remarks from producer Alex Gartner, Tippett Studio art director Nathan Fredenburg, Tippett Studio CG supervisor Aharon Bourland, Tippett Studio compositing supervisor David Schnee, and Tippett Studio animation supervisor James W. Brown. The show looks at the makeup and effects used to create a supernatural character. It provides a nice nuts and bolts take on the subject.

On a Crusade fills six minutes, seven seconds with notes from Gartner, stunt coordinator Andy Armstrong, and 2nd unit director Vic Armstrong. They detail the work put into the action-oriented Crusades sequences and give us a solid overview of the choreography and stunts.

The disc finishes with the film’s trailer. Unusually, it includes no promos for any other movies.

A second disc offers a Digital Copy of Season. As always, this lets you transfer the flick to a computer or portable thing-thang. Go right ahead!

As a supernatural tale, Season of the Witch falls flat. While its story creates potential intrigue, it develops in a dull manner that offers little excitement or drama. The Blu-ray comes with decent but unexceptional picture and audio as well as some minor supplements. The film’s not a total loss, but it’s pretty forgettable.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.0392 Stars Number of Votes: 51
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