The Last Witch Hunter review: Watch Game of Thrones instead of this unimaginative, fantasy film
The Last Witch Hunter is so unimaginative, it digs its own grave.
Over the course of his decade and a half long career, Vin Diesel has proved two things – that he can deliver ridiculous lines with an impossibly straight face, and that every movie other than a Fast and Furious installment is destined to suck.
Both elements collide to an unsavory explosion in The Last Witch Hunter, a draggy, droopy, bloated CGI infested mess of a film about, you guessed it, a man hunting witches. Much like last year’s Seventh Son, The Last Witch Hunter explores a central character walking the boundary between the real world and fantasy and encountering various computer generated antagonists to underwhelming effect.
The film attempts to get an environmental message to your attention. Witches have been battling against humans for centuries because humans supposedly don’t have much respect for Mother Nature. Their master plan of unleashing a black plague to wipe out humanity is thwarted by a group of witch hunters which includes Kaulder (Diesel), a hunter who kills the Witch Queen and is blessed (or cursed) with immortality. In the present day he spends his time missing his family and killing witches from time to time. Things take a turn when there are signs of the Witch Queen returning to life, and Kaulder must end this once and for all.
If that sounds cookie cutter to you you’re not wrong. This story has been done countless times earlier. It follows the same old tropes of a man entrusted with a mission to kill an ancient horror, team up with a novice (Elijah Wood in this case), seek advice from a wise elderly man (Michael Caine), walk around in green screen and swing his sword around monsters for effect.
Whether it’s Constantine, Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters, or the aforementioned Seventh Son, these films have a tendency to wow us with their production design rather than the story or the characters. The film does look good, but now that we’ve seen the medieval Game of Thrones aesthetic countless times one wishes the filmmakers put in more effort in giving us something new to look at.
The film is directed by Breck Eisner who earlier made Sahara and The Crazies. While the latter had some B-movie fun, this movie takes itself too seriously despite having incredibly boring characters. One doesn’t expect Shakespeare from Vin Diesel – he’s the bald guy who drives fast cars and hurls even faster one liners – so when you see a film where he’s trying to bring emotion and heartfelt fluff you can’t help but laugh. He does this while still trying be all Vin Diesely, like in a scene where he tells a witch ‘Do you know what I am afraid of? Nothing’.
With a lame story and uninteresting characters the least you’d expect from a movie about witches is scares, and yet the film does nothing on that front. There’s a mildly interesting monster made of rocks that feels fresh for ten seconds and descends into a generic video game level boss fighter. The Witch Queen is made of prosthetics which look cobbled together in twenty minutes. The films Priest and Legion, both of which were terrible and also had the exact same plot as this movie at least had some really cool monster effects.
It’s been half a decade since those films released and Hollywood still hasn’t figured out that a fantasy film needs some genuine scares to keep things interesting – excessive CGI doesn’t really cut it nowadays, and FX as unimpressive as the ones in this movie signal a disaster. In the 90’s this film would probably have been a semi hit, in 2015 The Last Witch Hunter is so unimaginative, it digs its own grave.
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