“The Last Witch Hunter” is a brand-new big-budget fantasy movie, yearning for franchise status.
Starring Vin Diesel, it’s a supernatural action film, reportedly based on a character Diesel invented himself for Dungeons & Dragons. He plays an immortal witch hunter who’s cursed to roam the world for eternity, hunting down recalcitrant witches.
He’s now 800 years into his mission and at present is living in a nice pad in New York City.
“Do you know what it’s like to live forever?” Diesel asks during the film.
That’s actually a compelling question, but the film can’t be bothered answering it. Diesel’s too busy rushing around trying to keep a lid on an increasing number of witch eruptions.
You see, for centuries there’s been an uneasy truce between witches and humans. Yes, believe it or not, witches are still among us but they’re being kept under wraps by witch hunters. Witches are allowed to socialize in private but are forbidden from using any of their magic against humans. Witches are suspected of breaking that truce when Diesel’s priest-handler, played by Michael Caine, dies mysteriously.
“The most powerful witches that have walked the Earth are here to destroy us…”
This witch hunter now has to jump into action and, with the help of an aggrieved witch who’s out for revenge against her own kind, battles all manner of supernatural beings, not to mention magic spells, deadly potions, and mystical runes.
As you can imagine, the movie has a field day with special effects. In addition to elaborate fight scenes with daggers, spears, and swords (de rigueur for fantasy stories), the film gets to play with various hallucinations, drug-induced trips into the ancient past, and harrowing dreamscapes. And because the witch Queen is closely identified with tree imagery, the film also luxuriates in vegetation gone wild, with gargantuan roots encasing unsuspecting victims and maniacal vines suffocating the life out of others. Throw in all that dark arts imagery to boot, and you have quite a visual feast.
Unfortunately, “The Last Witch Hunter” is all dressed up with nowhere to go, at least nowhere interesting. It’s a lot of spectacle, but the plot seems so random and arbitrary that there’s not much reason to see it to the end.
In fact, the film ends with such a naked plea for a sequel that I feel almost bad in hoping this is the last, “The Last Witch Hunter” film. But Vin Diesel has already proven he can turn questionable properties into huge franchises (the Fast And Furious films). So don’t be surprised if there’s a string of “Last Witch Hunter” movies.