The Last Witch Hunter, right from the get go, looks like an easy movie to right off. It has a pulpy sounding title, a lead actor not known for his acting ability, a high concept that may not sell to the mainstream, and, to be honest, it looks a little silly. Don’t kid yourself, it is. It is an easy movie to watch, mock, and forget. With that said, I liked it. Really, I do. It is not like I can defend it as a good movie or anything (although, if you like a movie, how can it be bad? things can get subjective really fast). I any case, it worked for me in a weird way.
The world of The Last Witch Hunter is a new creation, it has some cinematically familiar elements, witches, immortal hunters, magic spells, secret sects of the Catholic Church, all things we have seen before. What it tries to do is build a new basis for the power of witches and a balance of powers between the witches and the humans. Well, maybe that isn’t so original, sounds a little like Nightwatch or Underworld, right? Still….
The movie centers on Kaulder (Vin Diesel), a witch hunter who is leading a team into battle with the Witch Queen at the outset of the movie. It is a battle that takes place a long time ago in a big twisted patch of trees with plenty of fire and shouting. It is a rather fun scene, especially when the flaming sword we see in the trailer makes an appearance. A side note, that sword was done practically, meaning not with computers, he strapped a propane tank to his back for it, making the sequence infinitely cooler. The scene ends with the death of the Queen and Kaulder cursed with immortality.
The tale jumps to the present and we are reintroduced to Kaulder, a stylish, immortal witch hunter working for a secret sect of the Church called the Axe and Cross. He is a lonely fellow who still mourns the death of his family centuries before, but now he has to deal with the return of an old enemy. Despite the truce between the witches and humanity, there are still those who long for the return of the Queen and the witches to their rightful prominence. Or some such nonsense.
The thing about this movie is that it doesn’t make much sense. It has a stop and go momentum which never lets it really catch a good stride. A big problem is the exposition and world building, rather than make a real attempt to show us how everything works, we are always stopping so someone can explain something. Granted, when that person is sometimes Michael Caine, I am alright with that.
As I sat there, letting the ridiculousness wash over me like the sun on a warm spring day, I could not help but chuckle at how little sense the whole thing made. It seemed that for every two or three pages of the script they shot, they skipped one. It really is the only thing that makes sense. On top of that, the acting was silly and the effects are less than first rate.
I bet you are wondering with all this going against it, how can I like it? Some of the negatives are positives for in how it comes across onscreen. I loved the silliness I loved the random and incomplete exposition. There is something that just makes it all work together for me. It is honestly difficult to put my finger on. The whole thing kept me entertained, at times it was like let’s try to guess the next nonsensical plot twist, at others it was about watching the cast emote. it was all nuts. Plus, they never did say why he was the last, there did not seem to be an immortality requirement, or a reason not to have others.
Can I recommend it? Sure, that’s easy. Just don’t come blaming me when you don’t like it. I can recommend it, but I also have strange tastes at time.