‘The Last Witch Hunter’ at Least is Hilariously Awful

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Rating: 1.5/5.0

CHICAGO – You will see many many better movies this year, but you’re unlikely to see one quite this batshit crazy. I’ll give Vin Diesel this much credit, at least he’s created a memorably awful blockbuster instead of one that simply fades off into the moonlight.

The filmmakers seem to have started with the image of Vin Diesel scowling while holding a large flaming sword, and then reverse engineered the story from there, no doubt trying to stifle chuckles all the way. After all, this is a movie that begins and ends with Diesel facing off in an epic battle against a tree – and that tree is more rooted in reality than anything else in this movie.

Vin Diesel
Vin Diesel Contemplates His Weapon in ‘The Last Witch Hunter’
Photo credit: Summit Entertainment

“The Last Witch Hunter” casts Diesel as a medieval warrior (looking like an oversized extra from Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit). He eventually thrusts his trusty flaming sword through a medieval witch, but as she dies she curses him with the gift of immortality. Fast forward to present day where Diesel is now a kind of witch hunting Sherlock Holmes, using the occasional spell to dust for witch prints, and putting a staple in a cup of water to track down a witch riding coach on an international flight.

In the movie witches are all around, but a fragile truce is in place. They keep their magic just below the surface and agree not to use it against humans. Meanwhile Diesel acts as the muscle, and uses a cover as a private investigator of a Church sect, devoted to keeping the peace and keeping witches underground.

Diesel’s world weary witch hunter is molded into the billion dollar Diesel persona. He stalks around in a trench coat, collects ancient witch trinkets in his Central Park pad, and drives a muscle car seemingly pilfered from the Fast and Furious set. Michael Caine (proving once again there’s almost nothing he’ll turn down) is Diesel’s church handler and sometime sidekick, who is often referred to as “kid.” When a witch henchman casts a spell on his friend, Diesel vows revenge, with a new priest (portrayed by Elijah Wood) tagging along.

Michael Caine
Michael Caine in ‘The Last Witch Hunter’
Photo credit: Summit Entertainment

At times I envied Caine, because he gets to be absent for much of this bizarre and laughably bad attempt at franchise building. The door is left open for possible sequels, if Diesel wants to indulge his witch hunting role playing game obsessions. But it barely lumbers over the finish line coasting on fumes after just one movie, much less a whole series of them.

The film has more unintentional laughs than intentional ones, with Diesel grumbling his way through hilariously awful and contrived dialogue about witch prisons, covens, and other witchy women. And then there’s that showdown with the tree. It’s strangely fitting that Diesel’s witch hunting exploits would end with a face off against something even more wooden than he is.

”The Last Witch Hunter” opens everywhere on October 23rd. Featuring Vin Diesel, Michael Caine, Elijah Wood, Rose Leslie and Rena Owen. Written by Cory Goodman, Matt Sazama and Buck Sharpless. Directed by Breck Eisner. Rated “PG-13”

HollywoodChicago.com contributor Spike Walters


© 2015 Spike Walters, HollywoodChicago.com

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