TL;DR – Honestly a bit of a disappointment
Score – 2.5 out of 5 stars
I honestly don’t know where this film went wrong, it has a good cast, it clearly has talent working behind the scenes and it has an interesting premise, but in the end, it kind of feels like we have a movie that is just paint by numbers.
The Last Witch Hunter opens 800 years in the past with Kaulder (Vin Diesel) leading a band of warriors into a Plague Tree to kill the Witch Queen (Julie Engelbrecht) and stop another Plague (just to note film is set 100 years too early for the plague, it might be a bit pedantic to point this out, but hell I’m writing it so I can). During the battle, Kaulder slays the Witch Queen, but in the process, he is “cursed” with eternal life. The film then jumps to the present where witches and humans have reached a truce, witches can live in secret, only if they promise never to use their magic on humans, and the 800-year-old Kaulder policies this truce. In the present Kaulder has to find the witch (Ólafur Darri Ólafsson) that murdered his 36th Dolan (Michael Caine), people who write Kaulder’s history, which means he needs to team up with his new 37th Dolan (Elijah Wood) and a Witch called Chloe (Rose Leslie).
There are a number of reasons why this film just does not work, and the first is the cast. Vin Diesel, Rose Leslie and Elijah Wood are all amazing actors that either miscast or just wasted, I mean literally anyone could have played Elijah Wood’s role given how little they use his talents. Vin Diesel and Rose Leslie try to make the most of the ham-fisted dialogue they are given, but even professionals can only do so much. The plot is so bare-bones that they don’t say anything unless it is important for later in the film, “I’m going to confiscate these magic element stones, gee I hope they won’t be important later in the film’ or ‘The multiple times we are told, the With Queen still lives unless you kill her beating heart, it’s a bit hard to have a plot twist if you keep reminding us of it’. While some of the set design is interesting, a lot of the CGI looks like a low budget, like if we saw it in Game of Thrones (see review) you would be like ‘wow that’s pretty good for TV’ but when you see it in a film it’s a bit meh.
One thing I did find interesting is that as they started with some establishing shots and I was like oh they filmed in Iceland, and sure enough in the credits hello Iceland. It is interesting that I can recognise a place I have never been (though I should point out it is on my to-visit-list) from a couple of aerial shots. It should be telling that my one interesting thing literally has very little to do with the film.
In the end, there is nothing new here, it’s story with no surprises, a plot we have seen before, and really fails to show off anything. If you are desperate for an action flick, go watch Mad Max: Fury Road (see review), if you really want to see something in the cinemas this week go watch The Dressmaker (see review), but I would give this one a miss.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Directed by – Breck Eisner
Written by – Cory Goodman, Matt Sazama & Burk Sharpless
Starring – Vin Diesel, Rose Leslie, Elijah Wood, Julie Engelbrecht, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Isaach De Bankolé & Michael Caine
Rating – Australia: M; Canada: 14A; Ireland: 12A; NZ: M; UK: 12A; USA: PG-13