The Last Witch Hunter is a great time (this one has cult classic written all over it, in fact). It is all the clichés: it is a non-stop thrill ride, a visual delight and just a great over-the-top time in the theater. The story you’ll be witnessing is a terrific throwback to the ‘80s when fantasy was fantasy and there were no restrictions on what the creators of the films could do. This led to (cult) classics like Legend, Dragonslayer, Willow, Big Trouble in Little China and Highlander. The Last Witch Hunter is the product of minds who clearly love these films and wears that influence proudly. Vin Diesel stars as the titular Witch Hunter a man named Kaulder cursed with immortality by the witch queen. He has served the order of the Axe and Cross for the past 800 years, fighting evil and hunting witches, hanging out with Michael Caine (and Elijah Wood) and doing whatever it is immortals do when they aren’t sword fighting and yelling “There can be only one.” Bad stuff happens and it is up to Kaulder to save the world yet again.
From beginning to end, director Breck Eisner hits you with action and special effects. Flaming swords, swarms of plague flies, demonic beasties abound and the movie never really lets you catch your breath. That’s the good thing. The bad thing is that the movie never really lets you catch your breath. Yes, I watched with child-like glee as all the things I love in a fantasy/horror hybrid film happened but at the same time it was also dancing in “so bad it’s great” territory. Especially when it came to Vin Diesel’s acting. He seemed to be acting in a different film when he was not being an action superstar, delivering lines with force and fervor that was not at all in context with what was happening on the screen. This makes for some unintentionally hilarious interactions with his fellow actors, especially because I believe that there was supposed to be some kind of romantic entanglement between his character and the red-headed witch named Chloe (played by Rose Leslie). It just never really connected though.
That’s ok though because this is another in what I like to think of as Vin Diesel’s D&D films. (That’s Dungeons & Dragons for the layperson, a role playing game (or witchcraft) from the past that is secretly still played in present times). If Riddick is his elven rogue of a character, then Kaulder is his paladin. Taken from this perspective, the movie becomes even more epic as one realizes that what we are seeing here is just the imaginings of a grown man who likes to sling dice around and kill orcs (or witches) on a Saturday night.
I’ve been trying to stay out of spoiler territory, so I will wrap up this review here with this: if you are a fan of any of the ‘80s fantasy flicks I listed above, or enjoyed Your Highness as a fantasy film and not a stoner comedy, then this film is for you. It will hit you in all the right places. Go see this after you watch Crimson Peak (yes, I am still harping on this), or better yet: make it a double feature.