Having recently been treated to a pre-screening of the new Hollywood shock-buster, The Last Witch Hunter, a film that we were actually pretty excited to see, we couldn’t help but to leave the theater feeling pretty let down. Featuring a full roster of heavy hitters including the likes of Vin Diesel, Michael Caine, Elijah Wood, and Game of Thrones alumi Rose Leslie, along with a cool, fiery sword, it seemed like this movie just might have all of the moving parts necessary in order to properly generate a legitimately fun film. Instead they’ve managed to produce something that glaringly points out many of the problems major blockbusters often suffer from these days and it has very little to do with the quality of the actors or their really cool swords.
Glaring plot holes, romantic short hand, late game rule introductions, nonsensical and needless plot twists, and little to no character direction are but a few of the problems that ultimately leave you feeling completely unsatisfied at the films end. Couple that with the fact that they go out of their way to introduce the possibility of a sequel, an absolute must in Hollywood these days, and you’ve got yourself one heck of a cinematic disaster and we’re not talking about a new Roland Emmerich flick.
:::POTENTIAL SPOILERZ AHEAD:::
The films story focuses on a warrior, cursed with immortality, whose family was ruthlessly slain at the hands of a bunch of xenophobic witches and their queen who were hellbent on destroying humans simply because they were here first. Yes, witches in this film are a race of mystical beings and not just a bunch of teenage new-agers with magic crystals, but don’t worry, this film does have that too.
When our heroes retiring watcher (Michael Caine) suffers an attack by a witch whose sites are set on resurrecting the formally slain Witch Queen, the 800 year old truce between humans and witches is put in jeopardy. His newly appointed watcher (Elijah Wood) then sits idly by while our hero (Vin Diesel) sets out to find the killer and fall in love with an attractive witch woman (Rose Leslie) while maintaining the balance of the truce all over the course of about 36 hours.
The incredibly rushed pacing and lack of direction in this film lead to emotionless connections between the characters while a lurking side mystery could have ultimately been solved by having Diesel’s character do what he set out to do in the first place; kill the rogue witch. The film also offers up a substantial plot twist that you’ll likely see coming from the very beginning of the film, but when it actually pays off, it makes absolutely no sense and serves as little more than a late in the game ‘GOTCHA!’ moment in order to make our heroes job just a little bit harder (even though it really doesn’t do that either).
There are gigantic plot wholes in terms of story, especially when it comes to Rose Leslie’s, Chloe, character. In one scene in particular, Chloe is attacked only to open here eyes to find herself in the bed of Vin Diesel. As viewers we’re left wondering if she was actually attacked and then somehow rescued off-screen or if it was all just some kind weird nightmare/Vin-Diesel-lovers-wildest-fantasy. Either way, it serves as the singular plot-point setup for the sequel, so yeah, there’s that.
The film also tries its damnedest to setup a few jokes that just can’t quite land, even when delivered by someone as witty as Michael Caine. It then tries to call back to those same jokes later in the film as though the script writers all wanted to do their best Joss Whedon impression, but just didn’t know how.
The one redeeming aspect of this film is Vin Diesel’s giant mercury filled fire sword which gets NO EXPLANATION at all whatsoever, which they do go so far as to actually name, but in retrospect we can’t exactly remember what its name was because it was that generic.
:::END POTENTIAL SPOILEREEZ:::
Initially we were excited by the idea of this movie as the odd pairing of Vin Diesel, Michael Caine, and Elijah Wood seemed like it could produce a pretty decent horror-action-comedy, but instead the film falls beyond flat leaving you to wonder what exactly was it about the original script that was able to entice any of these actors on board to begin with.
In the end, unless you’re a really forgiving person that doesn’t mind plot holes, rushed love stories, foreseeable plot twists, and a predictable story, you might enjoy this movie. It does manage to offer quite a bit in terms of it’s special effects, but even in that area, it’s far from ground breaking and it’ll immediately have you recalling other more enjoyable scenes from better movies. In the end, we’re forced to give this film a pretty solid ‘D-‘ which it only gets due to the quality of actors that they managed to attract, despite how bored they all appeared to be on screen.
If you’re still interested, The Last Witch Hunter officially releases on October 23, 2015.