The Last Witch Hunter (2015)
Directed by Breck Eisner
Vin Diesel is a cool guy. He's generally charming and likable. And it's actually interesting to know of his passion for Dungeons and Dragons, especially in regard to this movie. But none of that helps to make The Last Witch Hunter a better movie.
Diesel plays Kaulder, a witch hunter who helped to kill the Witch Queen over 800 years ago. Upon killing her, she "cursed" him with immortality to keep him from ever meeting his deceased wife and daughter. Over the centuries he's become a nightmare for the witch species and now, in the modern age, Kaulder is the key weapon of an organization called Axe and Cross, devoted to keeping peace between humans and witches. With his current handler, the 36th Dolan played by Michael Caine, recently retired and found murdered, he's out for revenge. But things get more complicated and he soon uncovers a plot to resurrect the Witch Queen. He enlists the help of Chloe (Rose Leslie), a young and impressionable witch who owns a bar, of sorts, that's a popular destination for other witches and magically-inclined people. He also gets help from Elijah Wood, who plays his new handler and the 37th Dolan.
It's funny that the world Eisner and his production team have created is so fun and interesting when the story and characters plainly are the opposite. The story itself is nothing short of forced, trite, and cliché. In fact, those 3 words can describe most of the movie.
Let's start with the story. Kaulder is cursed by immortality by his mortal enemy. That in itself is one of the most stupid things anyone's put into any story, even though Eisner and co. try to make it okay by turning it into a plot device, and I'm just paraphrasing here: "I thought she gave me immortality as a punishment but she just wanted me to hold onto it for a while." Then, despite an utterly linear, straightforward story, Eisner adds these touches of mystery and drama by having "dreams" and an onslaught of flashbacks that add almost nothing. Then there's a love story that feels nothing but forced, with boring dialogue and little to no chemistry. The first, primary villain has almost no screen time, being little more than a plot device with a face and name.
It seems like Vin Diesel's characters are all just becoming variations of Vin Diesel and his penchant for trite dialogue.
Then the real villain, the Witch Queen, is only around for about 10 minutes even though the story revolves around stopping her... It's not a great story if the villains are interchangeable like a series of dominos: one falls for the next to take it's place. And the fighting, which involves a lot of magic, is a flurry of nonsensical computer graphics combined with a lot of additions that just don't serve a purpose. Kaulder has a cool closet full of guns and witch hunting accessories, but his cool-looking shotgun is absolutely useless; the only pieces of "weaponry" that serves any purpose is Kaulder's sword which has a cool name, like "Witch Killer" or some other forgettable nonsense, and some "ancient runes" that he only uses as a last resort. So the action in an action movie is slow-moving and very computerized; when combined with a mediocre story it results in an action fantasy that isn't very compelling; that ultra-forced twist (which lasts all of 2 minutes before coming to a painfully predictable end) doesn't make things any better.
Then it's all made worse with mediocre acting. It seems like Vin Diesel's characters are all just becoming variations of Vin Diesel and his penchant for trite dialogue. Elijah Wood's youthful face and Rose Leslie's charming accent and Michael Caine's experience can't do anything to save The Last Witch Hunter. To be fair, with that screenplay it would have been a hard job for any cast.
The production values are excellent for the most part, and the expansion of the movie world is the only reason that any part of The Last Witch Hunter would be fun. It brings to mind the world of Hellboy, of magic and demons and mystery. And the original Kaulder, prior to immortality, looks interesting and bad-ass, much more so than the modern-age Kaulder who speaks in one-liners and wields a shiny, TV-quality shotgun and apparently loves to bed stewardesses.
TL;DR: All in all, Eisner could've really had something. With the world he creates and touches of depth here and there, it feels like he's given in to the powers that be and made a simple, mediocre action flick. There are fun scenes but for the most part it all falls flat with incredibly poor direction and, it seems, an equally poor, overall vision for the movie.
- Acting – 5 / 20
- Story – 4 / 20
- Cinematography – 4 / 20
- Soundtrack – 2 / 10
- Entertainment Factor – 5 / 10
- Fantasy/Action – 4 / 10
- Other – 5 / 10