Death After Life
The Last Witch Hunter should be right up my street. It has magic and witchcraft and cool looking effects and a dude with a flaming sword and Michael Caine. What could go wrong?
Well, the ending. The ending could go very, very wrong.
I was actually quite enjoying it to start with even if it is a little slow in its build up and just when you wish it would hurry up and get somewhere it prematurely ejaculates all of its themes and plots twists right into your face… OK, I need some better analogies.
So the basic premise of the film is that Kaulder (Vin Diesel) and his bunch of friends went to kill the Witch Queen (Julie Englebrecht). This is back in the days where modern technology meant you had a way to keep dead rats out of your local well. It’s also back in the day when people – including Vin Diesel – had awesome hair and beards.
As Kaulder kills the Witch Queen he is cursed with having eternal life. Cut to present day and Kaulder is still hunting the bad witches only now he looks like Vin Diesel does in every other film. He belongs to a council that has a historian or “Dolan” who records Kaulders deeds. The 36th Dolan is Michael Caine who is retiring and being replaced by the 37th Dolan (Elijah Wood).
The next day we find out that the 36th appears to have been murdered and Kaulder is then on a hunt to find out who did it and why. This is where the film gets good. For a short period of time it manages to strike a really interesting balance of mystery, intrigue and action-adventure. The film talks you through a lot of the potions and alchemy that Kaulder uses to hunt monsters without overstaying it’s welcome, giving you enough to flesh out his craft.
As the investigation continues we get lots of really cool special effects of weird witchcraft in our modern day world. Simple things like a rotten apple tree appearing to be a bright and colourful gummy bear tree are examples of the fantastical hiding in plain sight which at times reminded me of that feeling I got when I first watched Men in Black.
Up until the middle of the film is where the majority of the characters are fleshed out too. It’s here that we meet Chloe; played by Rose Leslie who is famous for saying “You know nothing John Snow”. She, in my eyes, along with Michael Caine are the best characters in this film because lets face it, if I was to pick someone to play a fantasy role it wouldn’t have been Vin Diesel – he’s just too bland for the world around him.
Chloe, however, is one of the good witches who doesn’t use magic for nefarious means. She is also scared of the world outside her insulated circle of friends at the bar she works in. It provides a valuable insight into the other side of this story. We see a group of people who, through no fault of their own, are ostracised, feared and heavily regulated. The witches therefore are a strange dynamic race of people where a small vocal minority cause chaos for humanity but the silent majority have to suffer the consequences. Sound familiar?
It’s here that a few gaping plot holes appear though; the most obvious is the 37th Dolan who originally states that Kaulder saved him as a kid from witches who killed his parents and burnt his house down. “I remember” are the words that serve Kaulder. It’s strange that Kaulder seemed surprised when the the 37th turns out to be a bad guy because his parents were actually witches and it was Kaulder who actually killed them… I thought you said you remembered?!
The absolute worst part of the ending is how rushed it feels. Suddenly within what feels like 10 minutes literally everything happens which is in stark contrast to the pacing within the rest of the film. Turns out the 36th isn’t dead, Chloe is actually a bad witch but doing good, the 37th is a bad guy, the witch queen has been resurrected and will release a plague within minutes to wipe out humanity, everyone has to fight witches and monsters etc.
So after all that you leave the cinema feeling numb to the whole experience as the last thing you remember is just a random assortment of stuff – similar to cassetteboy’s mash-ups only less funny.
I think if a second one were to be made I would give it the benefit of the doubt and go see it because The Last Witch Hunter actually had a lot of promise and I quite enjoyed the first half of it at least. Unfortunately though it pulls the ejector seat release where all the plot points were sitting leaving the rest of the vessel to plummet into oblivion. It’s probably not worth spending decent money to see this film but if you catch it on TV then you will probably find that it’s a semi-entertaining witch… err watch.
- Cool effects
- Rose Leslie
- Starts well
- Rushed ending
- Plot holes
- Vin Diesel