Released: October 2015
Director: Breck Eisner
Run Time: 106 Minutes
Distributor: Summit Entertainment
Vin Diesel: Kaulder
Rose Leslie: Chloe
Elijah Wood: Dolan 37th
Julie Engelbrecht: Witch Queen
Michael Caine: Dolan 36th
Have you ever seen a trailer for a movie that you know is going to be bad, and yet, in your heart of hearts you hope, and you hope, and you hope that it’s not going to fucking suck? Do you remember the feeling that when you finally saw that movie, that you realize that it DID suck? Crushing disappointment is what I felt when I saw such train-wrecks like I, Frankenstein, Universal Soldier: The Return, and Alien Vs. Predator. It’s almost soul-crushing. The funny thing is, is that these movies still ended being mildly entertaining in a “so bad, it’s good” kind of way. Every actor and director is going to have a flop or two under their belt. It comes with the territory. Not everything you make is going to be a gold-mine. Vin Diesel has had a pretty good career in terms of action movies. Most of them, while not critical successes, have been mostly entertaining and pretty decent time-killers. Until now. Now, we come to The Last Witch Hunter. Oh, boy.
Vin Diesel stars as Kaulder, who starts out as a witch hunter shortly after the Black Death has hit Europe. After finding and confronting the evil Witch Queen, she dies, but not before she curses Kaulder with immortality. He doesn’t age nor can he be killed. Pretty nifty, eh? 800 years later in 2015, Kaulder is apparently a wealthy businessman of sorts, while secretly hunting down rogue witches for a mysterious religious sect called The Ax and The Cross. See, the witches and humanity have an uneasy truce that allows the witches to govern themselves on the condition that they don’t use their powers on humans. Kaulder’s partner, Michael Caine, er, Dolan the 36th is apparently murdered by a rogue warlock. Enter Elijah Wood, er, Dolan 37th(because….why?)to take his place. What follows while Kaulder investigates what happened to Dolan 36th, is every cliche in the goddamn book is hit, one right after the other. If the setup sounds familiar, it should, because it’s been used in almost every PG-13 fantasy-horror film set in modern times, like I, Frankenstein. I would be okay with all these cliches, if the movie was up to snuff, but it isn’t.
What went wrong? Almost everything. The writing is god-awful. When I said the movie hits every cliche in the book and then some, I meant it. It follows the superhero formula almost to a tee: Man gets cursed, gains superpowers; man lives for eternity using his power to fight evil; man encounters cute girl that happens to be more than she appears; man’s partner gets killed; man seeks revenge for said killing; man with new sidekick discovers villainy is afoot, need I go on? The “twists” in this movie are absolutely groan-inducing. I was rolling my eyes when we discover the truth about Dolan 37. Typical, so….typical. This wouldn’t be an issue if the action was coherent. There’s another problem with The Last Witch Hunter: The action sucks. It’s poorly edited, though out, and..SHAKY CAM!!! Goddammit. Save that crap for war movies, man.
The visual effects should be pretty decent, though, right? Wrong, wrong, wrong. Tremors 5 had better special effects, and that was a direct-to-video movie. There is absolutely nothing convincing about the CGI that’s on display here. From the tendrils that hold Diesel’s character in place at the beginning of the film to the plague flies at the end, it’s not really good. There are some pretty interesting visual effects, but you can tell that they’re visual effects. The best visual effects movies convince you that what you are seeing is the real deal, even when it’s not. You should have no idea where reality ends and CGI begins. The filmmakers of The Last Witch Hunter didn’t even try. I understand it’s a fantasy film, but good lord, you could try harder than this. There’s a word for movie like this: Embarrassing.
The acting is….not horrible. Vin Diesel plays….Vin Diesel. What more can you expect? Rose Leslie is pretty decent. She’s also smoking hot. There’s that. Some of the make-up effects are absolutely fantastic. The Witch Queen’s look is particularly grimy and disgusting. I will say this for Vin Diesel, he needs to be cast in a Viking movie. That opening sequence in the film shows that he could pull it off perfectly. Elijah Wood is surprisingly really good here. He’s still got that kind of innocent look that he had in the Lord of the Rings, but he definitely steps up in the movie, until the big “revelation.”
My final conclusion is that The Last Witch Hunter is one of the worst movies I’ve seen this year. It would be a front-runner if it wasn’t for Pixels and Fant4stic. This is easily Vin Diesel’s worst movie yet. He can certainly do a hell of a lot better than this. So can the director, Breck Eisner. His last movie, The Crazies re-make was actually pretty damn good. I don’t think Diesel’s career is going to tank because of this movie. Not at all. He’s still got the Fast and The Furious franchise to deal with. Do yourselves a favor, and don’t bother seeing this one in theaters. Wait until it gets on home video. It’s not worth it. This one gets a Dunce Cap with a 4/10. The Last Witch Hunter? The Last Bitch Hunter it feels like. No amount of alcohol could make this a good movie.