The Last Witch Hunter Review


Many films try và fail to lớn pull off the kind of densely over-plotted action-fantasy that director Breck Eisner ("The Crazies," "Sahara") nails in "The Last Witch Hunter." The secrets to Eisner"s success are confidence và patience, both of which compensate for the film"s script whenever it becomes embarrassingly thin (especially during its rushed finale). Still, if nothing else, "The Last Witch Hunter" is so much more adept than other recent convoluted post-"The Matrix" adventure films about a superhuman men-of-action (Vin Diesel, in this case) who see the world for what it really is, và are humanity"s last hope of maintaining a peaceful status quo. While most other films sprint through expository dialogue, & bluster their way through action scenes, "The Last Witch Hunter" is measured enough khổng lồ make you want lớn suspover your disbelief.

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An especially charming Diesel plays Kaulder, a witch-slayer who was cursed to lớn live sầu forever by the Witch Queen (Julie Engelbrecht) baông xã in ye olde viking days. An integral thành viên of the mortal-led witch-hunting organization Axe và Cross, Kaulder has grown full of himself after centuries of walking the Earth unchallenged. But when Ellic (Michael Caine), Kaulder"s sidekiông chồng and the chronicler of his stories, dies on the day of his retirement, Kaulder investigates, & discovers a plot to lớn revive the centuries-dead Witch Queen.

Here"s where "The Last Witch Hunter" starts lớn get so dorky that you may want to lớn give yourself a wedgie for enjoying it. In order lớn stop the Witch Queen, Kaulder must "rethành viên death," a clue left for hyên ổn by Ellic in smudged fingerprints all over one of Ellic"s most prized books. The Rolodex of enemies & fair weather contacts that Kaulder meets up with on his rocky road to remembering is embarrassingly preposterous. Their ranks include Max Schlesinger (Isaach De Bankolé), a blind pastry chef-cum-magician who makes cupcakes out of psychedelic moths, butterflies, and maggots, and Belilal (Ólafur Darri Ólafsson), a squat, curse-slinging warlochồng whose bushy beard & barrel chest makes hyên look like one of ZZ Top"s touring bassists.

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What makes this scenario work are the periodic flashes of intelligence that prove sầu that the film"s trio of screenwriters thought about what motivates Kaulder. Diesel"s usual cockiness suits his character. As he points out lớn Dolan the 37th (Elijah Wood), Ellic"s successor at Axe và Cross, there"s nothing he hasn"t seen. Diesel is well-used in that sense, proving he"s more than a blunt instrument in scenes where he huskily broods và sweet-talks his way around the film"s most unwieldy exposition. Few action stars can convincingly mansplain their way through a scene where mystic rune stones that control the elements are used to lớn stop và start a thunderstorm. Diesel is on the short các mục. 

There are even fewer directors who are sensitive enough to lớn sell scenes as conceptually all-over-the-bản đồ as the ones showcased here. But thanks khổng lồ Eisner, there are blessedly few scenes in "The Last Witch Hunter" that feel rushed (can we please get this guy to lớn direct the upcoming "Doctor Strange" movie"s sequel?). Romantic banter feels genuinely playful in scenes like when Kaulder & Chloe (Rose Leslie), a young witch, flirt at Chloe"s hookah bar. There aren"t nearly enough scenes where Eisner can flex his muscles and prove sầu that he"s a stronger storyteller than the script with which he"s working; the best is probably when Chloe comes home page và silently tries khổng lồ ward off a threatening spirit with an array of light bulbs. This scene teaches you how lớn watch it. No character has lớn explain that the bulbs" light is Chloe"s only defense against whatever is threatening to lớn invade her home. You just piông xã up that knowledge by watching Eisner work.

Eisner"s direction is similarly thoughtful during big special-effects-driven phối pieces. He"s a sturdy choreographer, and none of the big action scenes in "The Last Witch Hunter" are as good as those from his surprisingly atmospheric, recent remake of George Romero"s "The Crazies." But flashbacks lớn Diesel"s "Dungeons and Dragons"-worthy encounters with the Witch Queen & modern-day skirmishes with Belial bởi look good, and that"s not just because of Eisner"s keen eye for composition. "The Last Witch Hunter" is just generally poised in ways that most fantasies should be, but aren"t. There"s breathing room in scenes where characters have to lớn appear khổng lồ be living with decisions they made a couple of scenes earlier. You know you"re seeing an atypically dopey but consummately well-assembled fantasy when poor Michael Caine has lớn explain to lớn viewers the Witch Queen"s plan khổng lồ spread a human-decimating plague using the various witches that Kaulder locked up over the years in the Axe cộ & Cross"s "witch prison." "The Last Witch Hunter" may be corny at heart, but it"s cool enough to convince you otherwise while its creators sell you a story you"ve sầu seen some iteration of many, many times before.

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Simon Abrams

Sitháng Abrams is a native sầu New Yorker & freelance film critic whose work has been featured inThe Thủ đô New York Times,Vanity Fair,TheVillage Voice,and elsewhere.