Review: The Last Witch Hunter Is Too Generic To Be Anything Special
Title: The Last Witch Hunter
Director: Breck Eisner
Screenwriter: Cory Goodman (written by), Matt Sazama (written by), and Burk Sharpless (written by)
Principal Cast: Vin Diesel, Rose Leslie, Elijah Wood, Olafur Darri Olafsson, Rena Owen, and Julie Engelbrecht
Summary: The last witch hunter is all that stands between humanity and the combined forces of the most horrifying witches in history.
I’m a huge fan of genre movies that are there to just be a fun time in a theater. These are the types of movies that might not have the best acting or the best story, but they are entertaining and fun enough that I feel like I could justify watching them. I’m the type of person that enjoys movies like that as “background noise”. It works really well for me when I’m cleaning or writing. That being said I also recognize that this genre is very hit or miss. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I didn’t know that much about The Last Witch Hunter going in but I didn’t have a very good feeling. I’m always open to new movies to play in the background while I fold my laundry, though.
The Last Witch Hunter takes a rather high caliber cast and drowns them in a story riddled with cliches that seems to take itself too seriously for the material.
I didn’t know anything about this movie going in so it surprised me quite a bit when Michael Caine suddenly appeared. Then I was shocked to see Elijah Wood appear. I’m beginning to think that Vin Diesel might be one of the nicest people in Hollywood considering who he gets to show up for his movies. However, as the cast continued to expand to include Game of Thrones’ Rose Leslie, I began to realized that everyone here was just “phoning it in”. The script wasn’t very solid and here were several people that are extremely talented with almost nothing to do. Wood and Caine are the two that are given the least to do and neither of their characters seem to amount to much.
There is also the fact that the entire production is littered with clichés. This is one of those things that a regular audience member could probably overlook, but someone else (like a critic, who sees a ton of movies) sees it as something that ruins the movie. Kaulder (Vin Diesel) is a witch hunter who went after the Queen of the witches because his wife and daughter were killed by the black plague, which was apparently started by witches in this world. He keeps his distance from everyone and doesn’t know what it means to be in a relationship with someone because he doesn’t want to get anyone hurt. There was not a single moment in the entire movie that took me by surprise, and while I don’t expect every movie to have some sort of amazing twist, a movie this full of clichés just becomes incredibly forgettable.
All of that being said I don’t want to say the movie is terrible. As far as a “dumb, fun” type of movie you could certainly do worse, but I feel like for something like this to truly excel it needed to ramp everything up to eleven. It was almost like the writers thought they were making a great supernatural movie and everything needed to be serious. With a little more self awareness and humor this could have been a really fun ride but the movie doesn’t embrace how stupid it is. I know that Diesel often makes movies that take themselves incredibly seriously while being very stupid but this one didn’t click for me. I feel like they are trying to make another series of movies like they did with the character of Riddick but the foundation just isn’t there.
The Last Witch Hunter is not a terrible movie but sub par CGI, a very cliché story and a waste of an excellent cast, and I just can’t recommend it for a theater experience. It’ll make the rounds on late night network television, probably sooner than anyone involved wants it to, and it’ll be something to keep on in the background while you do something else.