#31in31: The Last Witch Hunter

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last witch hunter onesheetWhat?  It’s in theaters.  And FWIW, this would be hella cool “on the Blu-Ray”

Story: Centuries ago, a guy named Kaulder kicked the Witch Queen’s ass.  But maybe not as thoroughly as he thought.  Luckily, she cursed him with immortality, so he gets another chance to end her when she tries to come back.  But he’s gonna need help…cue the nice witch!

Scares:  All action, all the time.  Very little room for scares, though the Witch Queen herself is pretty creepy.  Thumbs up on her bad self.

Splat factor: Very little blood here.  Mostly magic, mud and trees.

Closing scene “shocker”?: Nup.  But there’s a shock in the climax that’s a real jerk move.

Remake, Sequel or OG (Original Ghoul)?: Original.

Trick or Treat?:  On the one hand, The Last Witch Hunter is a perfect Halloween movie.  It’s got the whole witches thing, a kick-ass hero, cool Viking-like flashbacks, and a very interesting mythology tying it all together.  Let’s face it; Vin Disel wearing a ponytail-ed beard and mustache ain’t something you see every day.  Plus, there’s Ygritte Rose Leslie as the coolest witch since Stevie Nicks, Michael Caine as retiring babysitter priest/”Dolan” tasked with documenting Kalder’s life, and Elijah Wood as the new babysitter “Dolan”.  Not a bad lineup at all.

Then there’s the other hand.  The Last Witch Hunter hopes the cool battle scenes and action-palooza will make you forget that the script is borderline incoherent, and the plot is basically “Guy Beats Up Witches”.  Then there’s a complete 180 from one of the characters that’s so completely out of the blue I actually felt embarrassed for the screenwriters.  (I definitely felt embarrassed for the actor in question, who had to figure out the motivation for such an abrupt character shift.)

But after I let myself stew a bit after that weird WTF plot hiccup, I decided that it could have been worse.  Witch Hunter could have starred Nic Cage.  Though as the Witch Queen uses flying insects to peeve/creep out her enemies, I would have loved to have seen Cage scream “NOT THE BEES AGAIN!”  We always want what we cannot have.

With Diesel’s patented ennui-meets-stone-face acting, his Kaulder feels grounded.  At least he does for the level of act-tor-ing required of a horror/action film.  And Michael Caine’s scenes with Diesel lift up the joint.  That, and the mythology of witches, Kaulder’s “Axe and Hammer” society, and the “not all witches are evil” plot points have me willing to check out a sequel.  Which, of course, this film primes you for just before end credits.  Don’t expect too much, and you’ll have a Halloween film that anyone can enjoy.  Yes, even those folks who scare easily.  Because The Last Witch Hunter is basically Taken with witches.  Somebody page Liam Neeson, stat.

Score: 3 out of 5 pumpkins.

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