Saturday, May 12, 2012

Nick Cage Has a LOT of Gambling Debts

I'm getting NetFlix free for a month so I'm catching up on everything from last years blockbusters to the 24 phenomenon. Capsule review of the latter - it's stupid and you're stupid if you like it.

And in between, all the ridiculous B movies I missed seeing on the Sc-Fi Channel. Or "SyFy" as it's now called, "Syphilis" if you understand Polish. One such B movie, Season of the Witch, has some genuine star power - Ron Perlman.


If you don't know Perlman then I weep for your cloistered existence. He's only one of the finest character actors in film history and he saves this goofy flick by playing things totally snide - "You ever get the feeling God has too many enemies?" he quips facing down yet another horde of unbelievers in the film's slap-dash excuse for an opening.

Perlman, and the lesser Cage, play a pair of crusader knights who've decided to quit crusading as it's not the nicest business. It takes Cage skewering an unarmed woman to get them to that point though, after lots of hastily edited together battle scenes. With nightly revelry edited in between, which I particularly liked. You don't find many works of popular entertainment admitting the crusaders were more in it for the drinking and pillaging and screwing than for Jesus.

But Cage gives all that up - as does Perlman, being a loyal best buddy - so he can go redeem himself for skewering a woman during battle as opposed to after. At this point I had to go get my dinner out of the oven but when I got back a leprous Christopher Lee was hiring them to transport a suspected witch to some fortress full of monks or something. And I do mean leprous, two-thirds of Lee's face was just a wad of pustules and boils. Excellent old-school makeup effects in stark contrast to the climax.

They pick up a few more misfits, forming a merry band you know isn't going to entirely survive the journey but you're not watching for that. You're watching for Ron Perlman because everything he does is magic. Kind of like Sharlto Copley in the otherwise forgettable A-Team - the best scenes in that were when he just threw out the script and did whatever the fuck he wanted. Though Perlman is less wild and more stolid, lending a certain dignity to the melodrama even when head-butting a demon - I'll get to that mess later. And he looks the part of a medieval war veteran, all craggy and scowling.

Though the real fun here is the violence. It's going for a horror vibe that never really takes hold but it does sword violence very well. There's a scene where the heroes are set upon by a horde of CGI wolves - I say that because they are obviously CGI - and get to hacking them as they charge. I'm sure this upset the sort of people with those t-shirts and posters of what looks like a mediocre 70s realist painting of wolves howling at moons and such. Which is good, because those people are assholes.

Quick, everyone look at where they'll put the monsters in post-production!

Then, in keeping with the movie's general all-for-bloody-fun tone, they arrive at the monk fortress and find the plague has taken all the monks. That's why they need to exorcise rather than just execute the witch, some plague or something. They probably went over the details while I was in the kitchen. Doesn't matter though because once the last plague-ridden monk keels over, the rest rise up as zombies! Yes, the favorite monster of 21st century man-children! But it's excusable as at least it's a new setting and serves as an excuse for the heroes to decapitate monks in increasingly creative ways.

This monksploitation can't last forever unfortunately. We have to get back to that whole plot thing about the witch who's really a demon and everybody but the rookie kid dies to send it back to hell and Cage gets his redemption and Perlman takes more killing than Rasputin... All really predictable but you don't get on one of these rides because you're wondering where it will go.

Am I saying you should see it? Nah, not really. But if you do, ignore all the noise around Cage and his redemption quest. This is really all about Ron Perlman swinging a sword and looking damn fine as he does it.

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