Quick Hit: A movie about a geeky Vin Diesel hanging around with Ygritte from Game of Thrones.
I really wanted this movie to work, because Dungeons and Dragons has had some good years recently. It popped up in Stranger Things (arguably had one of the starring roles) and there have been some good episodes of The Big Bang Theory featuring it as well. So, when I heard that this film was based on Diesel’s own experience in playing D&D, I was fairly optimistic.
I was very, very wrong.
There are a lot of problems with The Last Witch Hunter, but the first is this: it’s largely very dull. That’s not to say that the story itself is that bad – the story of an immortal witch hunter who is helped by a Catcholic order that helps keep the peace between witches and warlocks and the rest of the world is pretty intriguing. But the dialogue is really clunky at times, and the entire air of the movie is wasted in this epic seriousness.
Which, on one level I understand. D&D is not really a happy go lucky game filled with humor. Neither is the story of a man who has literally seen everyone he loves die. But we’re talking about magic here. And that is the one thing that the movie gets right. Instead of the traditional magic where you see wands and cauldrons, ancient books (nothing again Doctor Strange) and the like, here we see incredible magical spells. They’re represented by gummy bear trees, by butterflies taking flight, and by instant aging. Some of these are really impressive effects, and it’s a shame that they got buried so deep in the movie.
Inevitably, the movie ends up chained to some of the effects in the worst way. The final showdown with the witch is really anti-climatic. It builds and builds and there is even some decent tension, and then we just get a terrible terrible, listless, sequel attempting ending. Why couldn’t this movie just allow itself to be full without trying to set up for more? I really wanted less set up and more of Vin Diesel being... well awesome.
The acting isn’t bad, though Elijah Wood is laughable and Michael Caine spends most of the movie playing dead. Vin Diesel is solid, with his natural look and his voice playing perfectly to the role. And I honestly liked the inclusion of Rose Leslie. I liked her power set (though didn’t like how we hadn’t heard of it for an entire hour into the movie), and I thought she served as a good foil for Diesel’s rough and tough. Honestly though, I found myself continuing to say “You know nothing Jon Snow – You know nothing Khaldar” in my best Ygritte impression.
Should you watch this movie? If you want my honest opinion, no, no you should not. But hey, it’s a fantasy movie that strives to be different – instead of terrible effects with a decent story, it does the exact opposite. This one is a “D” from me guys.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"