Kaulder, a valiant witch hunter is cursed with immortality by the queen witch and when he reaches modern times, he is the only one of his kind remaining. Witches, however, still abound in great numbers and many of them partake in black magic rituals and dastardly acts of witchery. Kaulder must fight to save humanity from dark magic and the evil with which it is associated.
The Last Witch Hunter hit theaters in October and while it hauled in over $97 Million internationally, it only made $27 Million domestically. That was obviously much less than what LionsGate was hoping the film would generate. The picture did turn a profit but considering it cost $90 Million to produce, the studio was probably less than thrilled. Moreover, critics and fans were not terribly kind to the flick. But rather than jump on the bandwagon and bash The Last Witch Hunter, I actually have some nice things to say about it.
The film is far from perfect but if you’re expecting perfection from a Vin Diesel film, you are looking in the wrong place. Vin Diesel films typically deliver loads of action, elaborate effects, and mindless entertainment. And those are precisely the things The Last Witch Hunter has to offer. I went into the film expecting not to like it. After everything I had read about how moronic it was, I was certain that it couldn’t possibly be worthwhile in any way but I wound up pleasantly surprised.
Cory Goodman, Matt Sazama, and Burk Sharpless did a decent job with the screenplay. It’s not likely to win them any awards but Kaulder’s backstory is interesting and the film shows the pros and cons of immortality in a more insightful way than I might of expected. It seems as if they put some actual thought into what living forever might actually look like. Because of his many years on the planet, Kaulder has conquered his fears. There is nothing that frightens him and I thought that was a smart and logical character trait for someone that has been alive as long as he. His time spent on earth factors into his demeanor in several other noticeable ways, as well.
The battle scenes are pretty epic. The antagonists are very intricately rendered and even though much CGI is used, it is pretty well done. The film goes back and forth between a dream-like state and reality and the dream sequences are elaborate and surreal. I was fairly impressed with the set design throughout the film. A lot of effort went into each of the setups.
I did find the conclusion to be a little anticlimactic. The final battle was over a bit too quickly for a movie of this kind. In a feature that positions Vin Diesel as a witch hunter, I expected a pretty epic and harrowing showdown but it was more or less mediocre.
As for carnage, the film is a little light on that. It doesn’t do much to push the boundaries of its PG-13 classification but it doesn’t feel like it’s sorely missing anything. Some added brutality would have been a welcome sight but it wasn’t a deal breaker for this critic.
The Blu-ray release comes with a respectable set of special features, including deleted scenes, a featurette, an animated short, and more. The picture and sound quality are quite satisfactory.
Ultimately, this is the kind of film where you need to check your brain and common sense at the door and just enjoy it for what it is: an action packed thrill ride filled with sorcery and swordplay. If you are unable to suspend your disbelief and just enjoy a bit of popcorn entertainment, you probably will not enjoy this picture. But if you can go into it with expectations in check, you may just have a good time with this one. The Last Witch Hunter will be available on DVD and Blu-ray Tuesday, February 2.
WICKED RATING: 5/10
Director(s): Breck Eisner
Writer(s): Cory Goodman, Matt Sazama, and Burk Sharpless
Stars: Vin Diesel, Rose Leslie, Michael Caine, Elijah Wood
Release: February 2, 2016 (Blu-ray)
Studio/ Production Co: LionsGate, Summit Entertainment
Budget: $90 Million (Estimated)
Length: 1 Hour and 46 Minutes