Director: Breck Eisner
Writer: Cory Goodman, Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless
Cast: Vin Diesel, Rose Leslie, Elijah Wood, Olafur Darri Olafsson, Julie Engelbrecht, Joseph Gilgun, and Michael Caine
Synopsis: The last witch hunter is all that stand between humanity and the combined forces of the most horrifying witches in history.
*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*
What better way to celebrate the approaching Halloween than with a film with witches. Vin Diesel stars and produces this film which I’m sure to him feels like one of his D&D games gone full scale – because Diesel has admitted he’s a nerd for that kind of stuff. While The Last Witch Hunter is filled with mythology and magic, there are time when the film loses some of its charm as it trudges through.
The film starts off in the middle ages after the plague breaks out, which just so happened to be the work of the Witch Queen (Engelbrecht), which leads a group known as The Axe and Cross, which includes Kaulder (Diesel) to hunt her down into the snowy mountains to a her lair. There they encounter the Witch Queen and her underlings, which leads to a battle and Kaulder coming face-to-face with the Witch Queen where he kills her, but not before she curses him with immortality. We then cut to the present day where witches and humans now live in a truce, but there are still witches out there that want to go back to the olden days. The truce is kept in order by Kaulder, who still works for the Axe and Cross and takes his orders from the group and a head figure known as The Dolan, which at the start of the movie is played by Michael Caine, and is the thirty-sixth.
However, when Dolan the 36th is attacked this leads Kaulder and the new appointed Dolan (Wood) to investigate and find out that someone wants release the Witch Queen. Realizing that he can’t do this alone and trying to decipher a message left for him to remember his past, Kaulder seeks Chloe (Leslie) to help him. They farther they go however, the more dangerous the mission becomes.
The Last Witch Hunter is a huge mix bag of a movie. There are some things that are serviceable and that work, but then again, there are things that lack to grab you. Some of the world-building aspects are fun to see play out and establish itself, and granted, the film is about witchcraft so that’s fun to see. But, when it goes away, which it does at one point, it slows the movie down a bit. It also doesn’t help that some of the dialogue is a bit heavy handed at times, and a bit sluggish.
The visuals are also hit-and-miss. Some of them really work within the scene like the transition to the “dream-world” or the landscape shot of the Witch Queen’s lair at the beginning and again later on. The bad CG is pretty bad and does take away from the movie when you compare it to the rest of the movie’s visuals. Of course, one of the highlight visuals is the heavily promoted flaming sword, which looks pretty cool when Diesel’s Kaulder is using it.
Speaking of Diesel, he’s serviceable as the immortal witch hunter. Diesel brings his natural charisma to the role and thankfully brings some levity to the role as opposed to be just the tough guy that can’t die. He does have his moments of intensity in the film, but it’s what you’d expect in a Vin Diesel movie. Rose Leslie’s witch character, Chloe, does the best she can in the role she’s given. She thankfully has something to do rather than just be Kaulder’s love interest – which is a tad forced, but whatever – and has her own desires. Elijah Wood as the new Dolan is rather refreshing as a character and also brings some levity, more so at the beginning, and has his moments to shine, but it otherwise a supporting character and disappears in the middle of the movie.
Olafur Darri Olafsson as Belial, a warlock that antagonizes Kaulder throughout the movie, is pretty intimidating as a villain, so it’s kind of a shame that he doesn’t have more scenes and is used as a secondary villain. Julie Engelbrecht, a Canadian actress in her first American film, plays the heavy makeup Witch Queen. The design of the Witch Queen is okay, but she’s surrounded by CGI that it takes away from her character a bit, and she only has only limited screen time. Finally, Michael Caine has only a very small role in the film as Kaulder’s friend and mentor.
All in all, The Last Witch Hunter does have its fun moments, but some glaring misstep of structure and CGI keep the movie for being far more than it should be and from what people would probably want.
The Last Witch Hunter
3.5 out of 5