You’re welcome. Sometimes I see the bad movies so you don’t have to. It’s part of the job; I’m happy to do it. I enjoy a far greater number of movies than I despise, so when one slips through the cracks every once in a while, I have no hard feelings about it. It’s a numbers game, really, and is inevitable. If I can save even one of you from having to sit through a movie like The Last Witch Hunter, than I can die a content man, knowing that I’ve accomplished some good during my short time on this planet.
I knew exactly what to expect. If you put Vin Diesel in a movie called The Last Witch Hunter, it’s going to lean more on action, not horror. The surprising thing is that there’s very little action in it. I guess it’s not misleading; Diesel’s character, Kaulder, does hunt a witch, but except for two scenes that bookend the movie, he doesn’t really fight them. Instead, he spends most of the movie trying to unlock a memory that will solve the mystery of who tried to kill his mentor, Dolan 36th (Michael Caine).
Let’s pause for a moment to let that sink in. Michael Caine. What in the heck is Michael Caine doing in this movie?!? At 82 years old, I hope it’s not that he needs the money. Maybe he just wanted to have some fun, but if so, it sure doesn’t show on screen. In fact, he spends most of the movie lying under a coma-like spell. If you ask me, that makes him the luckiest person involved. His relationship to Kaulder is basically a variation on that of Alfred to Bruce Wayne.
For that relationship to be effective, though, requires a better actor than Vin Diesel. He’s supposed to be distraught, not only about Caine’s condition, but also about the fact that he’s been immortal for 800 years and has never quite reconciled his feelings about the death of his wife and daughter. We know this from frequent, disrupting flashbacks, not from any emoting from Diesel. His performance is one note and scenes requiring him to be dramatic are painful to watch.
If Caine and Diesel have it bad, at least they’re not Elijah Wood. When he appeared on screen, I thought, “Oh, this is going to be something after all.” It was something, all right… something horrible. I think his character, Caine’s successor, Dolan 37th, is supposed to be the comic relief. He does utter the closest thing the movie offers for humor; however, he comes and goes at will. Instead of being a sidekick for Caulder, he’s told to stay home because he’s “not ready for this.”
If all else fails, how are those action scenes? I couldn’t tell you. They’re dark and shot in close-up, so I couldn’t discern what was happening. The Witch Queen (Julie Engelbrecht) is interesting, but doesn’t stand out in her underground world created from computer generated images. Her beating heart is a plot device that may tie the whole story together, but, not to spoil it for those of you who still want to see the movie, its use makes absolutely zero sense to me. Therefore, the entire conceit is ridiculous.
The Last Witch Hunter was written by three men who, in various combinations, gave us Priest (2011) and Dracula Untold (2014), two movies that are classics compared to this one. It was directed by Breck Eisner, who has given us both good (The Crazies, 2010) and bad (Sahara, 2005). With this legacy, plus the addition of Vin Diesel, you are armed with everything you need to know. I have educated you. I have warned you. What you do now is entirely up to you.