The Last Witch Hunter
Director: Breck Eisner
Writers: Cory Goodman, Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless
Starring: Vin Diesel, Rose Leslie, Elijah Wood, and Michael Caine
STUDIO: Summit Entertainment
DISTRIBUTOR: Lionsgate Home Entertainment
THEATRICAL DATE: October 23, 2015
DVD/BLUE RAY RELEASE DATE: 7TH March 2016 (UK)
VIDEO: MPEG-4 AVC; 1080p; 2.40:1
AUDIO: English: DTS:X; English: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1; English: DTS 2.0; Spanish: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; English: DTS Headphone:X
RUN TIME: 106 mins
“Crafting the Magic: The Last Witch Hunter” Featurette
Animated Short Films – The Origins of the Axe and Cross
The Last Witch Hunter Sizzle Reel / “Paint It, Black”
Audio Commentary with Director Breck Eisner
“The Last Witch Hunter: The modern world holds many secrets, the most astounding being that witches still live among us. Centuries ago, Kaulder (Vin Diesel) managed to slay the all-powerful Witch Queen, decimating her followers in the process. Before her death, she cursed the valiant warrior with her own immortality, separating him from his beloved wife and daughter in the afterlife. Her resurrection now threatens the survival of the human race as Kaulder, the only one of his kind remaining, faces her vengeful wrath”
I didn’t catch Vin Diesel’s latest venture into the world of fantasy when The Last Witch Hunter hit the cinemas but I had wanted to, an action fantasy set in a present day setting involving magic and the (typical for a Vin Diesel film) fight scenes? Yes, sign me up! However The Last Witch Hunter came out with very little fanfare and other than a couple of trailers and a few mentions on line the film seemed to slip easily from the public eye and I ended up not giving it a second thought. Perhaps it wasn’t the right time for a witch/magic based film or it didn’t pander to the lowest common denominator and thus wasn’t commercially successful?
No, turns out it’s just a bad film.
Not even “So bad it’s good” or “Bad but worth becoming a cult favourite” kind of bad. Just bad.
Which is a terrible shame because visually the film is stunning with a great blend of amazing physical sets and quite decent CGI backdrops (although the Sentinel wood/bone/magic/spider thing was pretty ropey in its looks) The opening sequence is exciting and would have been an amazing set up for the rest of the film but once we switch to present day things start to rapidly go downhill. I know not to expect any award worthy acting from our lovely friend Vin Diesel but even he hit a new acting low, the first 10 to 20 minutes were so poorly scripted and badly acted it was hard to tell which was worse. This cringe worthy mix of inexplicable facial expressions, stilted dialogue and baffling character motivations became a theme for the rest of the film. That’s not to say there aren’t some decent scenes and interactions but they were few and far between and both Michael Caine’s and Elijah Wood’s usual saving grace for awful films was nowhere to be seen. This could have something to do with the fact that Elijah Wood’s Dolan 37 seemed to be shoehorned into the film at random intervals (maybe to make it seem like the plot had some kind of multi-level depth going on) and then kind of tacked on again at the end for a vague reason and a failed attempt at a “Shocking Reveal” and as much as I love him as an actor, his performance can only be described as “Meh” and the character as a whole could have been cut from the film without any consequence.
Overall the impression you get after watching the clash of terrible script, acting and plot against a visually lovely back drop, interesting concept and history is that it had so much potential and could have been something great. Unfortunately it is just a massive disappointment. I blame the script, that’s really the only explanation for why this film was such a let-down.
If you want to feel even MORE disappointed go ahead and watch the “Crafting the Magic: The Last Witch Hunter” Featurette (which is actually a pretty decent length for a featurette) and once you get past the first ten or so minutes of mutual Vin Diesel ego fellatio from cast and crew you’ll find out just how much work was put into The Last Witch Hunter and exactly how much potential it wasted.
This film had no original source material, everything was crafted and created and incredibly well thought out, little touches were added to scene visually that the audience had no hope of ever noticing but just goes to show the level of thought that went into the film’s production.
The only worthwhile special features on this Blu Ray are the above mentioned featurette and the animated shorts (although one of them is a visual let down the rest are rather stunning). The deleted scenes are not worth it (there’s two and they don’t add anything to the narrative) and I have no idea what a “Sizzle Reel” is but from watching it I would say it should be called “Crappy trailer type thing with a little bit of music”.
Now, admittedly, I didn’t go back and watch the film with the audio commentary. Maybe if it had been Vin Diesel (who is a total gem when he does commentary tracks) or any of the other main cast I would have gritted my teeth and sat through the film a second time. After making some enquiries I’ve been duly informed that director Breck Eisner’s commentary track is fairly run of the mill and nothing special, discussing anecdotes, and technical aspects of filming.
The visual presentation of the film is good quality, with the blacks being deep and crisp and all images looking stable with solid, clear colours. Audio wise you may want to play around with your personal audio settings as you’ll find the dialogue to be on the quiet side (although sounding very clear) and all atmospheric noise/music to be overbearingly loud – often drowning out dialogue.
Unless you truly enjoyed the film when you saw it in the cinema I would class this as another “Wait for it to be on TV” offering.
Reviewer: Fia @madame_fifi