Thumped’s Random DVD Trip #03 – Source Code & Season Of The Witch

Thumped’s Random Dvd trip: Wherein Hector Grey enters the Xtravisions across the road and grabs the first couple of things that appear in the shelf. This week: Source Code & Season Of The Witch.

Thumped’s Random Dvd trip: Wherein Hector Grey enters the Xtravisions across the road and grabs the first couple of things that appear in the shelf.

In a poor week for humanity itself, we’ve endured both Source Code and Season of the Witch, so that you don’t have to.

Warning: Contains rather large Season Of The Witch spoilers.

Source Code is the second film from the young space oddity that is Duncan Jones, and it’s a kind of Groundhog Day meets Philip K. Dick melange. Jake Gyllenhall suddenly wakes up on a train, talking to a handsome young lady, and he’s freaked out. How and why is he here, who is that mundane stranger in the mirror, and the rest of it, is all very unsettling. While he’s wondering what the freak is gong on, the train is ripped apart in an explosion. Jake wakes up again, this time in a flight simulation yoke, and he’s an USAF pilot dude and there’s a face on a screen talking to him. Turns out he has to travel to this alternate reality once again for 8 minutes, because of some spurious science whereby it’s possible to jump into the last few minutes of someone’s life, and find out who the terrorist is, so that the authorities can stop him from planting a bigger bomb in downtown Chicago and killing, like, everyone, man.

Spurious science I can handle, it’s de rigueur in science fiction. While I’m suspending my disbelief I’ll take Jake waking up in different realities and trying manfully to save the day, I’ll even take the fact that he wants to try and stop the train he’s on from blowing up, and save all the people that he is, over the course of however many returns to the scenario, getting to know. In fact he’s, awww, falling in love with the girl sitting across from him, even though she thinks he’s someone completely different. What’s difficult to stomach is Jake Gyllenhall. The man cannot act.

Duncan’s fist movie Moon was a little dull, but ultimately a success, and lead dude Sam Rockwell no little part in bringing that entire premise to life with his elastic, hominine performance. Gyllenhall doesn’t have any of Rockwell’s qualities, however. He emotes only with his forehead, he exudes dullness. Despite his stubble he always appears as if he’s seventeen. He’s had a couple of interesting roles in the past and now people mistakenly think he’s an interesting actor. He’ about as personable as toilet roll and is as sexy as crusty sock under a mattress. Bad actors have made it before, but they usually have something, a good chin, nice tits, a glint in their eyes. Jake has dead eyes, dead dull eyes. He’s a vortex, sucking the movie into the blackness. Inwardly we applaud every time the explosion on the train vaporises his mealy mouthed, vapid featured, ligneous head.

Duncan seems to have thing for putting his lead men in situations were they are bound by duty, controlled by distant bureaucrats and where they go to lengths to contact their family. While undoubtedly there’s worse than this out there, (in fact it’s next), he may be in danger of entering M. Night Shyamalan country, where the movies are grand ideas that pivot on ludicrous twists and the characters are poorly cast ciphers. He’s not quite there yet, but he can accelerate the process by casting Nicolas Cage in his next opus.

Because, fact fans, Nicolas Cage is the worst actor of all time. That’s comparative to the amount of money he makes. It’s scientific, see. He may occasionally do a decent flick, but he’s been in some of the worst films of all time, whilst trousering a significant wad for the privilege. How does he do it?

Season of the Witch, no relation to the original SOTW, is utter, utter dung. He is Chlamydia for the eyes, an itch on your brain, a louche, drawling, lobotomised Jimmy Stewart, an Oscar wielding sham. Sure, films like this, or The Wickerman, or 8mm or Con Air, or The Rock (oh JESUS, ET CETERA, ET CETERA!) would most certainly have been shit anyway, but the man’s seeming lack of any critical faculty when it comes to choosing projects must mean he is an utter moron, or simply cannot ever say no. Or maybe he just loves money, and doesn’t care what he has to do to get it. As I watched SOTW, I appreciated the irony. It was a hard earned couple of quid.

In this midden he, and his crony Ron Perlman, a man who’s avoided good movies for the most part himself, but is so ugly we wouldn’t dream of begrudging him his stipend, are knights in the crusades, smiting infidels hither and tither, until, after an unfortunate bludgeoning accident, they lose faith in the Lord’s work and bugger of back to Austria. Needless to say they banter in their American drawls, but lets not quibble over that, or any of the linguistic anachronisms, because, frankly, that’s not the problem. On return to a pox infected village they’re spotted and unveiled as the deserters they are (somehow their infamy has travelled faster than they themselves have, one assumes by fax) and forced by the church to take a suspected witch to a monastery four hundred leagues away for a trial. Yes, it’s the classic witch accompaniment scenario, and along the way they assemble a rag tag bunch of guys to help in their quest. Fun and adventure beckon.

Except nothing happens. They go over a bridge, get attacked by some wolves, a couple of them die, blah blah. They get to the monastery and everyone is dead of plague. The witch turns out to be a CGI demon (fucking demons are BORING!) and everyone but the young lad is killed. However they manage to get a quick exorcism in first and the young girl who was possessed by the demon is alive by the end and gets to narrate the coda. I’ve given away they plot in its entirety there, you’ll notice, and that’s so that you, dear reader, don’t ever have to watch this.

It’s a baffling movie, not in its script or plot which were cobbled together by a ten year old, but in the fact that it exists. Why bother? Why make this film that offers nothing. In every aspect, from casting, to plot, to dialogue to the CGI, it’s utterly without merit. It doesn’t even have the excuse of being low budget, or charming, because, with Nick Cage in the big chair, it clearly isn’t. There’s a machine, controlled by Mammon, somewhere in Hollywood, and they put in some ink, and some paper and they throw in some faces, Nick Cage or Keanu or Jennifer Anniston or some other cunt, then they fill it with effluence and some intel processors and press the big red button and few weeks along comes this tediously opprobrious hogwash.

That machine is evil, pure fucking evil.

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