‘The Last Witch Hunter’ Review

last_witch_hunter_ver2

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-last-witch-hunter-official-image

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.

vin-diesel-leads-the-all-star-cast-of-new-fantasy-flick-the-last-witch-hunter-your-382002

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.

Vin-Diesel-and-Rose-Leslie-in-The-Last-Witch-Hunter

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.

witch-image-3-9-29

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.

75-1

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.

45-last-witch-hunter

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.

1430404727-game-of-thrones-last-witch-hunter

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

Vin-Diesel-stars-in-The-Last-Witch-Hunter

Advertisements

‘A Walk Among The Tombstones’ Review

walk_among_the_tombstones

Dir: Scott Frank

Cast: Liam Neeson, Dan Stevens, Eric Nelsen, Olafur Darri Olafsson, Brian ‘Astro’ Bradley, Adam David Thompson, and David Harbour

Synopsis: Private investigator Matthew Scudder is hired by a drug kingpin to find out who kidnapped and murdered his wife

 

 

 

*Reviewer Note:  This will be a spoiler free review*

 

 

At this point we all know Liam Neeson is great at playing a gruff, no nonsense ass-kicker. Some say it’s getting a bit old, but Neeson still manages to bring something different to each character he plays. While he does play almost the same character here in A Walk Among the Tombstones, Neeson once again shows his range of playing a different kind of badass.

 

Based on Lawrence Block’s novel of the same name, the film follows ex-cop turned unlicensed Private Investigator Matthew Scudder (Neeson), who after a terrible accident eight years before, reluctantly agrees to help a drug trafficker Kenny (Stevens) to track down a pair of criminals (played by Thompson and Harbour) who kidnapped and brutally murdered his wife even after he paid them to return her. When he starts to investigate and digs deeper into what’s going, he finds out these two have done this before and will continue to do so, until they stop.

 

a-walk-among-the-tombstones-movie-photo-4

Stevens as Kenny and Neeson as Matt

 

 

Like I stated before, Neeson plays a badass again but not a badass like his previous movies like Taken or Non-Stop. Instead of constantly going up to people and beating the crap out of them for not giving him an answer, Neeson’s Matt uses his words – with the occasion threat or wise crack. At one point he does do a Taken-like speech near the end of the movie, which at that point of the movie it felt necessary and welcomed. It’s weird to say but Neeson gets to actually act as opposed to just be a badass and has some depth added to him with past troubles.

 

Director Scott Frank builds the world and tone right from the beginning. A Walk Among the Tombstones is a unsettling mystery thriller that keeps you engaged and scared for their characters, especially once you figure out what our villains Ray (Harbour) and Albert (Thompson) actually do to their victims. It is a little hard to watch but credit should be given to them for giving eerie performances and Frank for making them feel like monsters in the shadow for a good portion in the film before we see their faces.

 

The rest of the cast holds their own and do a good job with their roles. Stevens makes us feel some sympathy for his drug tracking character of Kenny, who is a bad guy, but considering his situation, you almost forget that. I actually wish there was more of Stevens because his character and performance was rather great. Eric Nelsen plays Howie, who is Kenny’s brother who has s secret that doesn’t really go anywhere and might fall a bit flat for some. Brian ‘Astro’ Bradley plays TJ, a local street kid that helps Matt and has his own problems going on, but also gets a bit annoying at times. Finally Olafur Darri Olafsson has a small but standout performance as James Loogan.

 

Matt and TJ (Brian "Astro" Bradley) getting to know each other

Matt and TJ (Brian “Astro” Bradley) getting to know each other

 

An interesting backdrop of the movie is that it takes place in 1999 and right at the beginning of the Y2K-scare, which in a nice touch one of the killers says “people are afraid of all the wrong things.” The year doesn’t really come in to play or matter despite being a bit heavy-handed in the beginning of the movie and felt like it wasn’t going to lead to something. The only thing it really leads to is Matt saying he doesn’t put his faith in computers or cell phones, but this does get him close to TJ, who is tech-savvy.

 

All in all, A Walk Among the Tombstones is a unsettling but engaging mystery thriller where Neeson adds another dimension of his usual ass-kicker roles in the past. The film relies on its tone and performances from its actors to keep you guessing until the end.

 

 

A Walk Among the Tombstones

4 out of 5