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New Release Review - THE LAST WITCH HUNTER

An 800 year veteran of witch hunting finds an old foe has returned to modern day New York.


Review by Eric Hillis (@hilliseric)

Directed by: Breck Eisner

Starring: Vin Diesel, Rose Leslie, Elijah Wood, Michael Caine


"Vin Diesel is a self-confessed Dungeons and Dragons fan, which may explain why he took on this role, as his character is a glorified Dungeon Master, making up rules and inventing his own mythology as the movie progresses through a series of tedious exposition dumps."





The success of 2003's Underworld spawned a new sub-genre of mid-budget movies that blur the lines between horror and action-adventure, featuring mythical heroes and villains battling on the streets of modern metropolises, usually fighting at night, in the rain, cloaked in clouds of unconvincing CG. They're all terrible, including the latest entry in this mongrel movement, Breck Eisner's The Last Witch Hunter, which offers Vin Diesel a chance to prove he can act without being attached to a steering wheel.
As these movies are usually wont to do, Eisner's opens in the past, some unspecified medieval era in a generic European land where everyone speaks with a quasi-Celtic accent. Kaulder (Diesel) is part of a band of witch hunters who have cornered the haggiest of old hags, who apparently has been scourging the land with her vile sorcery, or something. In a confused bit of mythology, Kaulder slays the witch with a stake through her belly before we then cut to modern day New York. If this movie had been made in the '80s, it's at this point that we would have been greeted with shots of angry taxi drivers yelling as laundry workers wheel their wares across busy Manhattan streets, all scored to a slap bass heavy funk tune, but today we simply get a generic helicopter shot of the city at night.
It's as this point we're introduced to Alfred..., sorry, Father Dolan (Michael Caine, adding his 57th turkey to his CV). Dolan looks after Kaulder, but he's not his butler. Definitely not. If you think an actor of Caine's stature is simply going to rehash a performance from... oh who are we kidding? He's Alfred the priest, whose function seems to be to record the immortal Kaulder's many witch hunting cases. Like Doctor Watson? Er, no, not at all. Can we move on now? Good.
Dolan, who we're told is the 36th Dolan (what the hell is a Dolan? Beats the shit outta me!), dies on the day he retires, handing the position over to the 37th Dolan (Elijah Wood, delivering yet another excellent performance as Elijah Wood). Kaulder smells a rat and discovers that Dolan (the old one; keep up here) isn't actually dead, but in some sort of witch coma. To wake him, Kaulder must find a clue from his past, calling on the aid of the bitchy witchy Chloe (Rose Leslie, a new face to this reviewer, but couch potatoes will know her from Game of Thrones).
Diesel is a self-confessed Dungeons and Dragons fan, which may explain why he took on this role, as his character is a glorified Dungeon Master, making up rules and inventing his own mythology as the movie progresses through a series of tedious exposition dumps. "What's that?" someone asks. "Oh, that's a lesser-spotted MacGuffin," Diesel replies. "How do we kill it?" "We need a widget." "Where do we find a widget?" "I'll pull one out of my ass!"
It took the combined sweat of three men to knock this script together, including the writers of 2011's Priest and last year's Dracula Untold, so you gets what ya pay for I guess. Let's hope The Last Witch Hunter obeys the prophetic promise of its title; the world doesn't deserve a sequel.



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