January 17, 2016

VOD Review: The Last Witch Hunter (2016)

"Oh, Vin. Sometimes I wonder what goes through your mind when you read scripts."

Let's be honest about it: The Last Witch Hunter wasn't a great movie.

Critics universally panned it; and it only made $27 million domestic on a budget of $90 million, so crowds didn't exactly flock to it either. For us, it was just too clunky to love.

But let's be fair about it too: it wasn't that bad.

Watching this one was a lot like the watching Van Helsing for us; both movies are bland, sanitized, uninspired efforts that have fun air about them, but they offer no depth whatsoever.

We did like The Last Witch Hunter way better though.
In the Middle Ages (Dark Ages? Not sure), the magnificently-bearded Kaulder is a Witch Hunter. We only see him hunt one Witch, so we're not really sure how good he is at it, but it was the Witch Queen herself, so we have to assume that his skills are at least reasonably sufficient.

When he catches up to the Witch Queen at her haunted tree fort, he manages to kinda kill her, thus ending her evil reign, but not before she curses him to live eternally; or at least until she returns 800 years later to pick up where she left off before he kinda killed her, because you know that's what's going to happen. You've seen this all before.

Flash-forward to 800 years later where Kaulder is a modern man living in New York, and still hunting Witches. Not scary Witches like they had in the middle ages, mind you, but just normal-looking people who can cast spells and stuff. When a Witch murders his best friend, he gets a new best friend, and they set out to find who killed his first best friend, and they discover that the rise of the Witch Queen is imminent. Also, he meets a hot, ginger Witch, who teaches him how to love again.

Don't look at us, we don't write this shit.

For us, The Last Witch Hunter is a sort of hybrid between Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters and Constantine, with a bit of Highlander and Van Helsing thrown into the mix. Or maybe it just tried to ape different aspects of those movies for its own benefit. I don't know, but overall, it felt way too safe and generic, and like it couldn't manage to find its own identity. It was a fun movie at times, and it didn't leave us feeling pissed off or frustrated, but something was just missing.

We really liked the premise, the cast, and watching Vin Diesel swing a flaming sword around. We also really loved the beginning of the movie which was set in medieval times far more than we did the modern-day setting that most of the movie took place in. They should have given us more of the medieval stuff, and Vin should have kept the beard throughout more of this one. It looked bad-ass.

The real problem with the movie was the script. We're not sure why, but It took three different writers to come up with a story which is littered with tropes, cliches, and uninspired familiarity, but it shouldn't have. The dialogue left a lot to be desired as well, especially with the cut-and-paste way in which the movie seemed to be edited. Lines like "Who said that a Witch can't hunt Witches?", "Salem was wrong, those women were innocent!", and "Witch prison!" were just shameful.

And having to watch the great Michael Caine utter a line like "Look at you, you ugly bitch of a morning" was just painful. He deserves way better.

The CGI was overabundant and bad at times, and the movie definitely could have benefited from the less-is-more motto in that department. I guess the PG-13 rating held the violence, action, and blood back, which is a shame; had they leaned more on practical FX, and pushed the envelope a bit more, the end result may have been better.

Why yes, Frobo Bagglins, there is...

They really should have centered the story around Rose Leslie's character, and had Vin Diesel's Witch Hunter play the periphery, much like Max did for Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road. Like she should have been sucked back in time to the Middle Ages via some sort of witchery gone wrong, where Vin Diesel had to protect her against hordes of Witches or something. That would have been cool.

Rose Leslie is a talented actress, and she was probably the most likable character in this one. We like Vin Diesel a lot too, but he just doesn't have the range to carry a movie like this by himself. It was cool to  watch him kick ass though.

Vin Diesel is mad cool, but some of his movies aren't so hot. Also, we really like Rose Leslie. A lot.

If you can sit through movies like Van Helsing, or the later sequels in the Resident Evil and Underworld series, and enjoy them for what they are despite their flaws, then you'll probably be able to do the same thing with The Last Witch Hunter. It ain't great, but there is a lot about it that is pretty enjoyable, in a guilty pleasure sort of way.

I wouldn't but in on Blu-ray, but I'd definitely come over to your house and watch it if you did.


The Last Witch Hunter is available now on VOD, and hits Blu-ray & DVD on 2/2.


We've been under Rose Leslie's spell ever since we first saw her on Game of Thrones, and we're fine with that.

1 comment :

  1. I cringed at the lines from Michael Caine and Elijah Wood was wasted, too. From this movie you would have never guessed that Michael is great and Elijah at least a good actor. I didn't like him in the Lord of the Ring movies but he grew up into a fine actor.

    Vin Diesel is Vin Diesel but they should have let him swing more axes. It's sexier.