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The Last Witch Hunter – Review


Release Date: 23 October 2015 [USA]
Director: Breck Eisner
Writer: Cory Goodman - Matt Sazama - Burk Sharpless [Screenplay]
Cast: Vin Diesel - Rose Leslie - Elijah Wood



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Posted November 9, 2015 by

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The Last Witch Hunter Review:

Open with an action scene, which leads to a smaller “character driven” scene, then an exposition scene that’s interrupted by action, and don’t forget to insert a few “BWWWAAAs” in there along the way. THE LAST WITCH HUNTER (2015) is the latest creation by the artificial intelligence which generates movies in Hollywood today. If one movie has put the Save the Cat! formula to good use it’s this one. Though, I can make that argument for about 98% of Hollywood movies since 2005 when the “last book on screenwriting you’ll ever need” effectively murdered even the tiniest bits of creativity in Tinseltown.

Vin Diesel is Kaulder, a Witch Hunter who defeated the Witch Queen eight centuries ago. Before her death, the Witch Queen cursed Kaulder with immortality. Diesel’s Kaulder spends his immortal life keeping order between man and witch, though it begs the question how does one person with no super-travel powers do this so successfully across the entire world? Kaulder is aided by a “Dolan” or priest who is in charge of recording Kaulder’s activities for posterity. Michael Caine cashes in a check as Kaulder’s current Dolan, but Elijah Wood steps in for most of the movie as Caine’s successor and centerpiece of a wildly ineffective plot twist. Along the way, Kaulder is forced to enlist the help of a witch, played by Rose Leslie (Ygritte for you Game of Thrones fans out there), who seems like a character cut from SyFy’s LOST GIRL. Why does a Witch Hunter need a witch? Well, to extract an ancient memory that’ll help figure out what nefarious agenda is at work against Kaulder. So, the entire plot of the movie hinges on one of my favorite tropes: flashback solving present-day dilemma.

The fundamental problem with Last Witch Hunter starts with the script which is wholly uninspired. Almost no attempt is made to fill in the gap of Kaulder’s 800-year life. We jump from long-ago prologue to the modern day with little sense of a society of witches or an underworld or even what in the hell Kaulder does with most of his time. It’s possible this was handled in throwaway dialogue, but it should inform the character from within. Diesel’s accent is modern-day, he dresses modern-day, and could otherwise NOT be 800 years old in any way. I understand a character might change with the times, but he kept nothing from his youth … 800 years ago … when the world was a radically different place? A good example of a missed opportunity is the running joke about Michael Caine not wanting an iPad. It would’ve been much more effective to have Kaulder be apprehensive about modern tech or even science. Instead, not only is he immortal (and can heal from any would), but the 800-year-old witch hunter is also super- progressive! Diesel’s Kaulder is the calm, cool, anti-hero and little else, making him the least interesting part of the movie.

Director Breck Eisner, the man behind the 2010 remake of George Romero’s “I swear this ISN’T a zombie story” THE CRAZIES leads The Last Witch Hunter deftly through a visually unspectacular film that bathes in CG sludge. It’s got the obligatory well-lit darkness and to be fair the modest budget (est. $70 million) keeps the CG at bay most of the time. It’s just unfortunate that clever camera work and a better script couldn’t have fueled a lower budget movie to do things a little different to help it stand out. Another plus, Eisner doesn’t pad the movie with excessive and unnecessary stuff. The trend today is to make every movie over two hours long, but at 106 minutes The Last Witch Hunter keeps it simple and to the point without sacrificing the mandatory setups for sequels.

Make no mistake that The Last Witch Hunter is a modern-day B-movie. That’s not a criticism either, but an attempt at placing it where it belongs in film reality. B-movies can be fun, and with commercials and part of your attention on something else, The Last Witch Hunter is entertaining. Last Witch Hunter is like any number of action movies with the cooler-than-thou anti-hero. It’s BLADE or UNDERWORLD but replace vampires and werewolves with demon-y witches.


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Ruben R. Diaz
Freelance Contributor

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