Spellbinding it's not.

Not much is surprising about "Season of the Witch." The only part of the movie that really disappointed me was that one of my favorite Donovan songs of the same name didn't run through the credits.

Oh, well. I came home and turned on my iPod and was happy.

Maybe you're familiar with the phrase "January junk," which refers to movies that studios throw out in the early weeks of winter. No one expects much from January junk, so I didn't anticipate a great deal from this latest Nicolas Cage show that most likely will be the first in a series of forgettable films dumped in the winter wasteland.

The story, which plays out against bleak, nearly colorless scenery, is set during the Crusades and begins with the hangings of three women accused of being witches. We then meet Behmen (Cage) and sidekick Felson (Ron Perlman), who are warriors. They abandon their mission when they realize that many of the killings are needless and that they may not be serving the church.

They enter a community where the Plague has taken as many as three out of four people, and others are dying or becoming afflicted with it. The two are taken to a cardinal (Christopher Lee) who is dying of the Plague himself. "Yes, I am stricken. The plague is everywhere," he tells them. He also tells them the pestilence is the stuff of witchcraft.

"Will you serve the church once more?" he asks, assigning them to take an imprisoned witch (Claire Foy) to a city where she will be tried.

"My vow is to God, not the men who murder in his name," Behmen says.

Still, to stay out of the dungeon, they agree and head toward the city on a journey that isn't exactly a smooth one, what with scary hanging bridges and even scarier mutant or demonized wolves.

On their trek they join a priest and an altar boy who wants to be a warrior. There's a lot of swordplay, an ambush or two and, of course, debate over whether the woman they are transporting really is a witch.

Accents come and go. There's very little that's believable. The scenery and costumes are the most interesting part of the movie, which ends in a ridiculous CGI battle.

It's certainly not going to be the best of the January junk. I predict it won't be cursed as the worst, either.

 

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