Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Last Witch Hunter Review

The Last Witch Hunter Review
I like Vin Diesel, and I know lots of other people who like Vin Diesel. Oddly, for such a charismatic actor, he's had a rough career. There have been several filmmakers who have found the spark inside of Diesel, and he has shown outstanding work in films like "The Fast and The Furious," "Saving Private Ryan" and, I think, "XxX." It seems despite his greatest efforts, his career has never blossomed in the way I thought it would. I don't know if its his agent or him or both, but most of the movies Diesel has been in have been a bust, and it seems "Fast and Furious" has been his bread and butter. Somehow, even though Diesel is built like an action hero, in another world he was the most accomplished voice actor of his generation. I don't say that because of Groot, even though he killed that role in "Guardians of the Galaxy," but "The Iron Giant" is one of my most beloved animated films of all time. Its because Brad Bird was able capture what makes Diesel's voice so great in the first place. Diesel brings out the childlike innocence out of the Iron Giant, and he created several emotions even though we never saw his face. So why is "Fast and Furious" the only hugely successful franchise to Diesel's name?

I don't know what draws Diesel to the movies he signs on for. Maybe some nerd instincts kicked in when he signed on for "The Last Witch Hunter," because I know he's a avid D&D player. Maybe he thought it would just be flat out cool. Maybe he got a hefty paycheck for it. I am honestly not sure, just like I am baffled by several of his choices. While I will say that "The Last Witch Hunter" isn't as bad as "Babylon AD" or "The Chronicles of Riddick," its certainly not something I will rush to watch over again. It was pretty flat and forgettable.

Vin Diesel plays Kaulder, a witch hunter who destroyed several during the Middle Ages. After a particularly brutal stand-off with The Witch Queen (Julie Engelbrecht), he is cursed with eternal life. From the Middle Ages to today, Kaulder works for a secret society called The Axe And Cross, a group dedicated to fighting witches. Kaulder has also had 36 Dolans, which are priests who record everything happening in Kaulder's life. Why? Honestly, the movie never really explains the relevents of what the Dolans do, I guess the clergy of the world needed to write down everything these witch-hunters do in order to sell another great book! The 36th Dolan (Michael Caine) mysteriously dies on the night of his retirement, and Kaulder with his new 37th Dolan (Elijah Wood) are hot on the trail to find out who killed the 36th Dolan and why.

I will say that Vin Diesel is fine in this. He is not bad and he is not great, but he is fine. He's the typical Diesel we see in movies like this, all massive presence, loud vocals and slight charisma. Like I said, its not a bad performance, just one I think I have seen from him before. Michael Caine is good in this, but he's not in it very long. Elijah Wood is pretty good in this, and there was a reversal of his character that you may not see coming, which he handled well. Rose Leslie of "Game of Thrones" fame, shows up as a dream walker who helps Kaulder in the movie. I like Leslie and she did good here too, except I feel like her character channeled the character she played on "Game of Thrones" at some points. That's always a risk as an actor, if you play a character for a certain amount of time, every character you play afterward is a clone of that popular character. It has happened to several actors, and I hope this is a small hiccup for Leslie.

So when I mentioned dream-walker, you probably asked what that was. Sadly, the movie is displays fairly abysmal insight. The mythology behind this movie is so scarce I was hoping the movie came with a glossary card. I think that was the thing that bothered me the most out of the whole movie, how poorly-explored the movie is as a story. The great fantasy films out there really explore the world they create, almost as if the movies are pulled from history themselves. Its not enough for me to throw out a couple of cool names, cool ideas, and cool scenarios and then barely explain what they all mean. Even if the explanation causes my eyes to roll, at least its somewhat of an explanation, but to never try at all is a lot worse.

The fight scenes are okay in this movie, and I think they could have been a little better of the special effects weren't so terrible. Yeah, think of the worst special effects work you have ever seen in any movie, and that is pretty much "The Last Witch Hunter." Other than that, its mostly Vin Diesel throwing around his sword, and there is no special choreography to any of it. I don't think at least. But goodness, that CGI, shameless.

You are probably wondering what I liked about this movie. I did like Diesel in some instances. I liked Caine when he was around. I do think Leslie and Wood bounce off of Diesel well enough. I just wish they had better characters to play. I equally wish that the story they created had a better mythology around it. Its just too bad that movie like this won't end up being good or being bad, it will just end up being forgettable.

FINAL GRADE: C+

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