‘The Last Witch Hunter’ Review

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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October Movie Releases

It is October ladies and gentleman!

This month looks pretty great and, yet again, some early Oscar nominations could come out. Of course, let’s not forget that it is the month of Halloween, so there are some potentially great horror films out this month. But let’s stop talking about them and actually get to them!

Also, Happy Early Halloween!

 

2nd

*The Walk gets an early/limited IMAX release before its wide release next week. So check out next week for my thoughts*

*Sicario gets its final theater release this week*

 

The Martian

Ridley Scott adapts Andy Weir’s critically acclaimed and best-selling novel of the same name with an impressive and awesome cast. The film follows Mark Watney (Matt Damon) as an astronaut that is left behind and presumed dead on Mars during a man mission. Watney then has to use his skills to surive on the planet while his crew (Jessica Chastain, Kate Mara, Michael Pena, and Aksel Vogel) find out from NASA that he is still alive and decide to go get him back. The film looks great and, like I mentioned, the cast is great. Besides the aforementioned cast members, The Martian also stars Kristen Wiig, Sebastian Stan, Donald Glover, Mackenzie Davis, Sean Bean, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Jeff Daniels.

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9th

*Steve Jobs gets a limited release only in L.A and New York. It gets a wide release at the end of the month, so I’ll give my thoughts and info there.*

 

Limited Release: The Final Girls

Max (Taissa Farmiga) grieving the loss of her mother (Malin Akerman), a famous scream queen from the 1980s, finds herself and her friends pulled into the world of her mom’s most famous movie. Reunited, the women must fight off the film’s maniacal killer. The film was a hit as Fantastic Fest and based on the trailer, it does look like it can be a fun time. The film also stars Alexander Ludwig, Nina Dobrev, Alla Shawkat, Thomas Middleditch, Adam DeVine, Angela Trimbur, Chloe Bridges, Tory N. Thompson and Dan B. Norris.

 

Pan

Joe Wright (Hanna) brings the classic J.M. Barrie characters to life in a prequel format. The films follows a young orphaned Peter Pan (Levi Miller) who gets transported to the fantasy land of Neverland. There, he finds both fun and dangers, and finds out that he is part of a prophecy by the people there that he will lead them to freedom by the fearsome Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman). I’m not completely sold on Pan just yet, the trailers make the film look like it could be a lot of fun and Neverland looks, well, fantastical. Maybe it’s the prequel idea or that I wasn’t always the biggest Peter Pan fan, but I will probably end up watching it. Pan also stars Garrett Hedlund (Hook), Rooney Mara (Tiger Lilly), Amanda Seyfried (Mary), Nonso Anozie (Bishop), and  Adeel Akhtar (Mr. Smee).

 

The Walk

Robert Zemeckis tells the true story about French high-wire artist Philippe Petit’s attempt to cross the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in 1974. The film looks great and Zemeckis apparently shot a lot of the film in IMAX and the stuff he filmed in it looks great (seeing the trailer in IMAX anyway). This one definitely is in a must-watch list. The Walk stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Charlotte Le Bon, Ben Schwartz, James Badge Dale and Ben Kingsley.

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16th

Limited Release: Room

Rising star actress Brie Larson stars in a modern-day story about the boundless love between mother and child; young Jack knows nothing of the world except for the single room in which he was born and raised. The film is an adaptation of the novel written by Emma Donoghue (who also wrote the film) and is inspired off the real life cases of Jaycee Lee Dugard and Elisabeth Fritzl, who were kidnapped and held captive and hidden in rooms for 18 years and had children. Directed by Lenny Abrahamson (who directed last year’s Frank) debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival recently to rave reviews, especially for Larson, who plays the mother and Jacob Tremblay, who portrays Jack. The film also stars Joan Allen and William H. Macy.

 

Goosebumps

R.L. Stine’s famous characters come to life in this film that follows Zach (Dylan Minnette), who teams up with Hannah (Odeya Rush) – who just so happens to be the daughter of famous author R.L. Stine (Jack Black) – to help her free their home town of Greendale, Maryland after Stine’s characters magically get set free. I’ve been split on this since it was first announced. I was for it when they said they were going to do, then Jack Black got cast as R.L. Stine and nothing against Black, he can be good when he wants to be and with the right material, but I didn’t buy it. Then the trailers came out, and it looks like it’s going to be a fun family movie or just least dumb fun, so I’m in again. Goosebumps also stars Ryan Lee, Halston Sage, Ella Wahlestedt, Jillian Bell, Kumail Nanjlani, Ken Marino and Amy Ryan.

 

Bridge of Spies

Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks reunite to tell a true story about an insurance salesman (Hanks), who is brought in by the government to help them negotiate the return of a soldier that shot down behind enemy lines during the Cold War for a spy that is in America. Written by the Coen Brothers, the film looks like a great drama-thriller that is suited for Spielberg and Hanks, and with these two fronting it, it should be good. Bridge of Spies also stars Alan Alda, Amy Ryan, Eve Hewson, Peter McRobbie, Austin Stowell, Sebastian Koch, and Mark Rylance.

 

Crimson Peak

Guillermo Del Toro goes back to his gothic horror roots with this film. That sees Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska), an aspiring author who is torn between love for her childhood friend and the temptation of a mysterious outsider. Trying to escape the ghosts of her past, she is swept away to a house that breathes, bleeds and remembers. The film looks creepy as hell and del Toro is a master of his craft and with a cast that also includes Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain, Charlie Hunnam, Leslie Hope, Burn Gorman and Jim Beaver, this has been on my must-see list since it was announced.

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23rd

Burnt

Bradley Cooper stars as Adam Jones as a chef that ruined his career with drugs and his diva begavior that tries to clean up his act by going to London and starting a new restaurant so he can gain three Michelin stars. I’ve seen the trailer a few times now and I’m not completely sold on it yet. Maybe it’s because Jon Favreau’s Chef was so good that it has tarnished me watching another chef movie, okay not really, it’s just that the trailer hasn’t grabbed me yet, which doesn’t sit well with me because the cat is great. The cast includes Alicia Vikander, Lily James, Sienna Miller, Daniel Bruhl, Matthew Rhys, Uma Thurman, Sarah Greene, Omar Sy and Emma Thompson.

 

Rock the Kasbah

Bill Murray fronts this musical comedy about a down-on-his-luck music manager (Murray) who discovers a teenage girl with an extraordinary voice while on a music tour in Afghanistan and takes her to Kabul to compete on a popular TV show, Afghan Star. I’ve only seen the trailer once at a movie theater and it looked pretty funny. But, I think I’ll have to watch another trailer to really get me into the film. Yeah sure it’s Bill Murray, but, that can’t be enough to carry a movie – at least for me. The film also stars Zooey Deschanel, Bruce Willis, Kate Hudson, Scott Caan, and Danny McBride.

 

Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension

The last installment of the Paranormal Activity films brings everything full circle, or at least that is what producers are saying. The film follows the same format from what we’ve seen so far. A family finds old and weird tapes from Katie and Kristi’s childhood and eventually weird things start to happen around their home and around their young children. They then find a special camera that shows us, for the first time in the series, “The Ghost Dimension” where we can see things that human eyes can’t. Personally, I just hope that it doesn’t disappoint because the series has kind of gone downhill since the third outing.

 

Jem and the Holograms

A modern day adaptation of the popular 80s musical cartoon directed by Jon M. Chu (G.I. Joe: Retaliation)tells us the story of a small town girl (Aubrey Peeples) who goes from video sensation to global superstar known as Jem. She and her three sisters (Stefanie Scott, Hayley Kiyoko, and Aurora Perrineau) begin a journey to of self-discovery and family. A lot fans are up-in-arms about the adaptation because it doesn’t look like the Jem they knew growing up. Just basing it off the trailers, I’m not really looking forward to this. It could be that I’m not the demographic they are trying to reach, but something about the trailers doesn’t pull me in. The rest of the cast includes Molly Ringwald, Ryan Guzman, Nicholas Braun, Nathan Moore and Juliette Lewis.

 

The Last Witch Hunter

Vin Diesel stars as, well, the last witch hunter that was cursed with immortality and now in present-day New York he must team up with another witch (Rose Leslie) to take down a plot that plans on releasing a more powerful witch upon the world. The movie doesn’t look that bad really and I think we can all know what to expect, but the trailers do make the film look like it could be at least a cool time while watching. The film also stars Elijah Wood, Olafur Darri Olafsson, Julie Engelbrecht, Rena Owen and Michael Caine.

 

Steve Jobs

Danny Boyle-directed and Aaron Soarkin-written biopic about, well, Apple innovator and face of the company, Steve Jobs. Jobs is played by Michael Fassbender that will follow Jobs through three, 30-minute scenes spreading across sixteen years of the life of Steve Jobs. The scenes will dramatize backstage events before three major product launches and will employ some flashbacks depicting key moments of Jobs’ life. The film debuted at film festivals recently and has been heavily praised by many, and not surprisingly, has been said it could be nominated for Oscars when the time comes. The film looks great so let’s see what happens. The films also stars Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen, Sarah Snook, Katherine Waterston, Michael Stuhlbarg, John Ortiz, and Jeff Daniels.

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30th

Our Brand Is Crisis

A feature film based on the documentary of the same name, focuses on the use of American political campaign strategies in South America. The film is being labeled as a comedy-drama, and while I haven’t seen the trailer, I’ve seen bits of the documentary online and it gives me an idea on who they will go with this. The cast is rather impressive with Sandra Bullock leading the cast with Billy Bob Thornton, Anthony Mackie, Scott McNairy, Zoe Kazan and Joaquim de Almedia.

 

Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse

Originally titled Scouts vs. Zombies, the film sounds ridiculously yes, but after watching the trailer, it actually looks like a fun movie. The red-band trailer really doesn’t hold back and the movie doesn’t look like it’s going to hold back. I can’t believe I’m looking forward to this, but I am. The film stars Tye Sheridan, Logan Miller, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Sarah Dumont, Joey Morgan, Halston Sage, David Koechner, and Cloris Leachman.

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What are you looking forward to?