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Does Nicolas Cage ever sleep? It just seems as though dear old Nicky has a movie coming out every few weeks and I am not quite sure if such a rapid fire schedule allows any time for rest. SEASON OF THE WITCH ($40) places our overworked thespian in very familiar fantasy territory, one that mixes action and the supernatural… producing a swords and sorcery-like premise, with some modern buddy/road movie trappings thrown in for good measure. Of course, with the extra trappings, SEASON OF THE WITCH comes across as a bit too modern for its 14th century setting. Still, the sword fighting and other bits of action are effectively staged.

In SEASON OF THE WITCH Nicolas Cage is teamed with Ron Perlman as Behman von Bleiruck and Felson, a pair of Teutonic Knights, who return from the Crusades to discover that portions of the Holy Roman Empire have been overrun by the plague. A young girl named Anna (Claire Foy) stands accused of witchcraft and is believed to be the cause of the plague. Cardinal D'Ambroise (Christopher Lee) charges Behman and Felson with the task of escorting the imprisoned Anna to a remote monastery, where the monks will be determine if the girl is truly a witch…. and where they have means of dealing with a powerful sorceress capable of bringing down a widespread plague. Of course, the trip to the monastery is a long and arduous one, taking the two knights, the prisoner and remaining company through peril after supernatural peril. The cast of SEASON OF THE WITCH also features Stephen Campbell Moore, Stephen Graham, Ulrich Thomsen and Robert Sheehan.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has made SEASON OF THE WITCH available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. SEASON OF THE WITCH has been given a fairly excellent 1080p presentation that brings total clarity to the best and worst of the film’s visuals. Some of the CGI looks cheesy, which only becomes cheesier in the startling clarity of high definition. Of course, image sharpness, fine detail, dimensionality and texturing tend to be exemplary most of the time… when it isn’t revealing the man behind the curtain. Colors are fully saturated, while the flesh tones look realistic. Blacks are pure, while the whites appear crisp. Contrast and shadow detail are generally excellent. The elements from which SEASON OF THE WITCH has been mastered are pretty much without flaws. A good deal of grain is noticeable, which adds a nice gritty quality to the visuals, which adds an organic quality back to the CGI heavy presentation.

SEASON OF THE WITCH is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. Much of the time, SEASON OF THE WITCH delivers the sonic goods; featuring a more than capable horror/fantasy/action movie sound design. There are talky, less impressive sequences, but all the discrete channels engage during the bigger set pieces. During the action, come from all corners, and pan effectively through the soundstage. In addition, there is some nice envelopment for moments that rely on horror atmospherics. Thanks to the lossless encode, fidelity is very strong, with the musical component getting a significant boost, while the sound effects come across in a convincing manner. The bass channel is robust and adds the right level of impact. Voices are cleanly and distinctly reproduced, plus the dialogue is easy to understand. A French 5.1 Dolby Digital channel track is also present. Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the extras. Featurettes and other programs include the following: Becoming The Demon (eight minutes) and On A Crusade (six minutes). Deleted Scenes, an Alternate Ending and a Theatrical Trailer close out the standard extras. Disc two offers a Digital Copy of the film.

Despite being a bit to familiar and out of step with the era it depicts, SEASON OF THE WITCH is a serviceable supernatural/action/fantasy film. The Blu-ray presentation is fairly excellent, even if it does reveal the chinks in the film’s CGI armor.


Season of the Witch [Blu-ray] (2011)


DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright 2011 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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