When I first heard about THE LAST WITCH HUNTER, I was a bit concerned. I love witches and the different takes filmmakers keep coming up in regard to them…however a couple of recent releases made me think Hollywood didn’t know what to do with them anymore. The straw that broke the camel’s proverbial back for me was SEVENTH SON, a horrible movie that should have never been made. I was skittish about THE LAST WITCH HUNTER because it seemed to be in the same vein as SS, and therefore it could very well mimic its crapiness as well.
Thankfully, THE LAST WITCH HUNTER is nothing like that atrocity. This film is fun and energetic, and it makes witches scary again. Granted, you have to take it for what it is: an urban fantasy/horror hybrid that builds a new mythology on the back of Vin Diesel. But if you just sit back and enjoy the ride, you’re in for a treat.
If you are not familiar with THE LAST WITCH HUNTER, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Lionsgate:
The modern world holds many secrets, but the most astounding secret of all is that witches still live amongst us; vicious supernatural creatures intent on unleashing the Black Death upon the world. Armies of witch hunters battled the unnatural enemy across the globe for centuries, including Kaulder, a valiant warrior who managed to slay the all-powerful Queen Witch, decimating her followers in the process. In the moments right before her death, the Queen curses Kaulder with her own immortality, forever separating him from his beloved wife and daughter in the afterlife. Today Kaulder is the only one of his kind remaining, and has spent centuries hunting down rogue witches, all the while yearning for his long-lost loved ones. However, unbeknownst to Kaulder, the Queen Witch is resurrected and seeks revenge on her killer causing an epic battle that will determine the survival of the human race.
I’ve always enjoyed Diesel’s work, particularly in PITCH BLACK. As such, I like it when he branches outside of the stereotypical “macho bad-ass” roles he quite often plays. For the character of Kaulder, Diesel gets to do both, and offers us a glimpse at a three-dimensional warrior.
THE LAST WITCH HUNTER is shot well and looks great onscreen. The production value appears high, and there’s plenty of special effects to ogle while the story plays out.
The acting is good, with Vin Diesel heading up an all-star cast. He is joined by Elijah Wood and Michael Caine, two veterans of cinema that always shine. In addition, we get to enjoy Rose Leslie onscreen as well, who fans of GAME OF THRONES will recognize as Jon Snow’s wildling lover, Ygritte, and Julie Engelbrecht, who gives a daunting performance as The Witch Queen.
The special effects are great, an eye-pleasing spectacle that accent the storyline and showers the viewer with plenty of CG glory. I love the enormous tree in which The Witch Queen resides; the effects team does a top-notch job of bringing it to life and making it an imposing aspect of the backdrop.
THE LAST WITCH HUNTER won’t win any awards, but it’s a fun movie, and I recommend it. While not really horror, it is still fast-paced, with lots of action and some mesmerizing special effects. The film hits store shelves today, so make a note.