Review: Season of the Witch (15)**

Nicolas Cage is evidently an actor who prizes quantity over quality.

Since the beginning of 2000, he has released 27 films in the UK ranging from the sublime (Adaptation, Kick-Ass) to the completely ridiculous (Ghost Rider, The Wicker Man).

If he was a little more selective with his roles, perhaps we wouldn't have to suffer hokum such as Season of the Witch, a swords-and-sorcery yarn which uses the bloodshed and religious fervour of the 14th-century Crusades as a backdrop to a battle of wits between two knights and a girl accused of witchcraft.

Their task: to deliver the demonic damsel to the church for cleansing.

Our task: to stay awake as first-time feature screenwriter Bragi Schut engineers his ramshackle medieval road trip as a series of plodding set pieces.

Behmen (Nicolas Cage) and best friend Felson (Ron Perlman) are Crusaders

who turn their backs on the church and return home to discover that the Black Plague has ravaged their beloved land.

Sorcery is blamed for the fatal outbreak and Cardinal D'Ambroise (Christopher Lee) summons the two knights to his deathbed, where he implores them to undertake a perilous mission to transport a young witch (Claire Foy) to a remote abbey, where the monks will perform a ritual to purge her tortured soul.

Season of the Witch lacks suspense or horror, steadily whittling down the cast through a series of trials.

Thus the knights must out-run a pack of ravenous wolves and traverse a rickety rope bridge with rotting wooden timbers that seem incapable of holding the weight of the witch's prison carriage.

Supporting cast inhabit their lifeless, two-dimensional characters purely as potential victims for the forces of darkness, while the climatic showdown is completely laughable because an army of reanimated corpses miraculously doubles in number in the blink of a computer-generated eye to provide a sterner test of the heroes' mettle.

Behold the black magic of the movies.