Review: "Season of the Witch"

Plot: A 14th century knight encounters a young girl who may be a witch.

Bottom line: Goofy, gooey fun, with Cage and Perlman making a surprisingly good team.

Cast: Nicolas Cage, Ron Perlman, Claire Foy

When/Where: "Season of the Witch" showtimes and tickets

Length: 1:31

Cage casts a spell in 'Season of the Witch'

Nicolas Cage stars as "Behmen" in SEASON OF

Nicolas Cage stars as "Behmen" in SEASON OF THE WITCH. Intheatres on March 19, 2010. ( Egon Endrenyi / Lionsgate ) ltc only one pix available for now (Credit: LIONSGATE/Egon Endrenyi)

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Reason meets superstition in "Season of the Witch," starring Nicolas Cage as a 14th-century knight who encounters a young girl possessed by evil. Or is she?

Yes, she is, which would be a spoiler if it weren't revealed so early in the movie. But even lacking that suspense, "Season of the Witch" still offers spooky forests, rabid hellhounds, zombie-monks and the sight of Cage emoting through 50 pounds of chain-mail. In other words, not the worst way to spend 91 minutes during a slow movie month.

Cage and Ron Perlman ("Hellboy") play Behmen and Felson, rough-riding, mead-quaffing Crusaders known for slaughtering infidels and closing down taverns in hot spots like Smyrna and Edremidt. But after taking part in a kind of Middle Ages My Lai massacre, they desert their outfit in search of more peaceable pastures.

Instead they stumble into a village cursed by plague, apparently the work of a nameless young witch (Claire Foy). After some strong-arming from a dying cardinal (Christopher Lee, under layers of latex pustules), the renegade knights agree to transport her to a far-off abbey to stand trial. They're accompanied by a young priest (Stephen Campbell Moore), a shady guide (Stephen Graham), a grieving father (Ulrich Thomsen) and an altar boy (Robert Sheehan). Not all will survive, but you knew that.

Director Dominic Sena ("Gone in 60 Seconds") sets a quick pace; the dull moments are brightened by the unexpectedly likable team of Cage and Perlman. As for the ending, it's ridiculous. Perhaps you can find forgiveness in your heart.

His kingdom for a horse (and sword)

"Season of the Witch" presented actor Nicolas Cage with an opportunity to learn new skills.

"I wanted to learn sword fighting; I wanted to learn how to ride a horse - all those things I had not done before," he says.

Cage spent weeks training in England with Camilla Naprous and her team of horse trainers. He practiced weaving around poles and riding quietly through forests for up to seven hours a day. He also worked with a fight choreographer to perfect his swordsmanship.

The swords used in the film are based on European arms of the period. Cage's decorative weapon was called a "one-and-a-half-hand" sword because it was wielded with one hand and supported with the other.

"I worked quite a bit on the swording and the riding because I felt it was the only real way people would believe it," he says. "That's what knights do: They ride horses and swing swords."

He says his horse Dali - named for Salvador Dali - is owed some of the credit for making him look good.

"Dali was always very secure and confident, so we had a good connection," he says.

- Entertainment News Wire

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