REVIEW: SEASON OF THE WITCH (2011)

CAST

Nicolas Cage (Ghost Rider)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Claire Foy (Going Postal)
Ulrich Thomsen (The Thing)
Stephen Campbell Moore (The Bank Job)
Stephen Graham (This Is England)
Christopher Lee (The Hobbit)
Rory McCann (Game of Thrones)
Brian F. O’Byrne (Flashforward)
Robert Sheehan (Mortal Engines)

In Villach in the year 1235, three women are accused of witchcraft by a priest. While one claims to be a witch through persuasion from the church, one denies it, another does neither and curses the priest. He orders them hanged and drowned. That done, he urges the guards to pull them back up for a ritual to make sure the so-called witches never come back to life. The guards refuse, claiming they are dead enough. The priest returns late at night to perform the ritual. One of the corpses, one of a hag with a blind eye suffers a seizure but dies, While another corpse, a younger woman takes on a demonic appearance and kills the priest and burns his book with the rites in it.In the 14th century, Teutonic Knights Behmen von Bleibruck (Cage) and Felson (Perlman) are engaged on a crusade, taking part in several different battles throughout the 1330’s (1332 Gulf of Edremit, 1334 Siege of Tripoli, 1337 Imbros & 1339 Artah) and eventually in the Smyrniote crusades. After witnessing the massacre of civilians during the 1344 capture of Smyrna, the two knights desert the Order and the crusade and return to Austria.While traveling through Styria, Behmen and Felson encounter the grotesque sight of people infected with the Black Death and discover that the Holy Roman Empire has been swept by the plague. They enter an unnamed town, trying to conceal their identity as deserters, but are revealed as knights by the crest on Behmen’s sword. They are arrested and taken to Cardinal D’Ambroise, who is infected with the plague. The Cardinal asks the knights to escort an alleged witch suspected of causing the plague to a remote monastery, where an elite group of monks reside. These monks can determine if the girl is truly a witch, and if she is found guilty, know a sacred ritual to cancel her powers and stop the plague that is devastating Europe. The two knights agree under the condition she be given a fair trial and that the charges of desertion against them be dropped. The Cardinal agrees and they set out accompanied by a priest, Debelzaq; a young altar boy, Kay von Wollenbarth, who wants to become a knight like his deceased father; a knight, Johann Eckhardt, whose family was killed by the plague; and the well-traveled swindler Hagamar, who will serve as their guide to the monastery in return for a pardon. The witch, a young girl later identified as Anna from Marburg, shows hatred towards Debelzaq and forms a bond with Behmen.Shortly after setting off, the group camp for the night. Johann decides to take first watch. When Debelzaq comes to relieve him of the watch, Johann says how much she remind him of his dead daughter, then goes on to speak of the politics of her trial, and how the Church cannot have her not be guilty. Johann decides to give up the mission and goes to convince the others to do the same, leaving Anna alone with Debelzaq. Anna becomes hysterical at the prospect of being left alone with Debelzaq. She attacks him and grabs his key to the cage, then escapes, fleeing toward a nearby village. The search for her leads the group to a mass grave, where Eckhart has visions of his dead daughter. Chasing the visions, he impales himself on Kay’s sword and dies. When they recapture her, the tearful Anna explains that she only ran away for fear of Debelzaq. However the group gradually becomes less trusting of her. They cross a rickety rope bridge, where Anna saves Kay from falling to his death by grabbing him with one hand, showing unnatural strength. The group enters the dark forest called Wormwood, where Hagamar attempts to kill Anna so that the group can go home, only to be stopped by the others. Anna appears to summon monstrous wolves, which chase the group and kill Hagamar. An enraged Behmen tries to kill Anna, but is stopped by Debelzaq and Felson, who point out that the monastery is in sight.At the monastery, the men find that all the monks have been killed by the plague, but locate the Key of Solomon, an ancient book filled with holy rituals used to defeat evil. The men confront Anna, and Debelzaq begins to perform a ritual used on witches. However, as Anna begins precisely recounting Behmen’s past actions during the Crusades, Debelzaq realizes that she is not a witch, and begins frantically performing an exorcism. However, the demon that is possessing Anna reveals himself and melts the metal of the cage. He fights off the knights effortlessly, but when Debelzaq throws a vial of holy water on him, the demon flies out of sight. As the men search for the demon, they realize he is not trying to escape, but to destroy the book so that nothing can stop his powers. They find a room where the monks were writing copies of the book, where the demon, revealing himself to be Baal, destroys the copies and possesses the dead monks’ bodies to use as weapons. The three men fight the possessed monks while Debelzaq continues the exorcism ritual. During the fight, Baal/Anna breaks Debelzaq’s neck, then kills Felson.Kay picks up the book and continues the ritual, while Behmen continues fighting Baal/Anna. Behmen is mortally wounded during the fight, but Kay is able to finish the ritual and Baal is expelled from Anna’s body, freeing her. Behmen asks Kay to keep Anna safe and then dies of his wounds. Kay and Anna bury their fallen friends. Anna asks Kay to tell her about the men who saved her. They depart from the monastery with the book.

Season of the witch was a far better film than critics and fellow moviegoers lead you to believe. If you want to see a fun yet dark heroic adventure, go see Season of the Witch!

REVIEW: HITMAN (2007)

CAST
Timothy Olyphant (Catch & Release)
Dougray Scott (Mission Impossible 2)
Olga Kurylenkio (Max Payne)
Robert Knepper (Cult)
Ulrich Thomsen (Killing Me Softly)
Henry Ian Cusick (Lost)
James Faulkner (X-Men: First Class)
Peter Hudson (Highlander: The Series)
At an unknown location, near a remote asylum, a group of young bald boys are receiving tattoos of bar codes on the back of their heads; men observe, direct, and coordinate the training of these young boys in firearms and hand-to-hand combat, as well as stamina and strength. In these scenes, it is shown that these young boys are trained from an early age to be professional, international hitmen-for-hire.
Years later, Interpol agent Mike Whittier (Dougray Scott) arrives at his house and discovers Agent 47 (Timothy Olyphant) in his study, where the two talk about 47’s life as a professional hitman, working for a mysterious unknown paramilitary group known as The Organization. The movie unfolds as he tells the story, and Whittier tries to capture him.
Three months prior, 47 is completing a hit on a gang leader named Bwana Ovie (Eriq Ebouaney) in Niger. He is told by his Organization contact, Diana (Lisa Jacobs), to kill his next target, Russian President Mikhail Belicoff (Ulrich Thomsen), publicly. He completes his mission as ordered, but before he can leave Russia, he is contacted by his employers. They tell him that there is a witness to the assassination and order him to intercept her. When Agent 47 pulls his gun to shoot her on the street, he realizes she has never seen him before. He does not shoot her, but just misses being assassinated himself.
His employers reveal his location to agents of FSB, who make plans to intercept him. As he is about to be taken, Diana personally calls him to warn him. She tells him that Belicoff ordered the hit on himself. After a dramatic escape from the hotel, 47 intercepts Nika (Olga Kurylenko), the woman who supposedly witnessed his hit and Belicoff’s mistress. He interrogates her about Belicoff and discovers that Belicoff had a body double, who ordered the hit on the real Belicoff so that he could take his place as the president of Russia. 47 was to be killed after the hit to ensure total secrecy. As Nika and 47 attempt to take a train further into the Russian interior, they are intercepted by more assassins from the Organization. 47 kills three of them before disarming Agent Whittier and wounding his partner. Infuriated at yet another escape, the FSB and Agent Marklov (Robert Knepper) order Interpol to leave the country immediately. In the meantime, 47 contacts Agent Carlton Smith (James Faulkner) of the CIA. He offers Smith a deal—he will kill Udre Belicoff (Henry Ian Cusick), Mikhail’s brother, in exchange for a favor from the CIA. Udre is an arms dealer and slave trader whom both the CIA and FSB have wanted dead for some time. Agent Smith informs 47 that Udre had been planning something with a German arms dealer named Price. Intercepting him could lead 47 to Udre.
47 and Nika travel to Istanbul, where 47 abducts Price from a restaurant in order to pose as Price at a meeting with Udre. 47 later kills Udre and his henchmen, so Belicoff’s double is forced to attend Udre’s funeral. 47 kidnaps Agent Marklov and forces him to have his own FSB agents try to shoot Belicoff’s double as he delivers a eulogy for Udre. Disguised as a soldier, 47 manages to kill all of Belicoff’s double’s guards and takes him into the archbishop’s chamber in the church. 47 instead kills him and then allows himself to be taken into custody by Interpol and Agent Whittier. At this point Agent Smith delivers on his end of the deal, having the agents under his command intercept the Interpol convoy that is transporting 47 to the airport, giving 47 the distraction necessary to escape. The scene then flashes forward to the conversation between Agent Whittier and 47 occurring at Agent Whittier’s house. After wrapping up their conversation, 47 reveals the body of a dead Organization hitman. 47 suggests Agent Whittier go along with 47’s plan, saying that he will notify the police that he has killed the fake Agent 47, implying that Whittier will not survive if he does not. Nika is shown picking up an envelope from an undisclosed sender. Inside it, there are papers and a message saying that she now owns a vineyard (she had told 47 of her childhood dream of having one). Meanwhile, 47 is watching her from afar, through the scope of a sniper rifle. He then looks at the corpse of another Organization hitman, lying close to him, and says, “I told you to leave her alone. You should have listened.” He then turns back, and walks away.
For once the film sticks close to the style of the games and doesn’t try and change anything that didn’t need changing. The story isn’t too complicated and doesn’t require much thinking, which is what you’d expect from this kind of movie. The action is pretty much non stop and there are some really impressive fight scenes all the way through, so there is never a dull moment. Basically, if you take this movie for what it is, it is a very fun, very enjoyable film that is entertaining from start to finish .