Review: The Last Witch Hunter is as cliché they come

Andrew Shermoen

“The Last Witch Hunter” is an odd film to tackle. Kaulder (Vin Diesel) is a witch hunter from the 1300s cursed with eternal life after killing The Witch Queen. After her death, the witches and the humans made a pact to never attack each other again. Eight hundred years later, Kaulder is still a witch hunter under The Axe and Cross and he handles threats from witches who seek to break the truce.

His life is documented by priests who call themselves “Dolan,” and after his 36th Dolan (Michael Caine) is attacked by witches after his retirement, Kaulder investigates the attack with the help of the 37th Dolan (Elijah Wood) and a witch named Chloe (Rose Leslie). He discovers a sect of witches that are determined to break the pact and seek to resurrect The Witch Queen.

This film has an awesome selection of performers, but their characterization often falls short. They can only do so much with the cliché dialogue and poor direction they have been given.

Vin Diesel attempts to portray Kaulder as a likeable protagonist, yet ultimately falls short cycling between scenes of relaxation and wisecracking to scenes of screaming and demanding answers. Despite his choppiness, Vin Diesel still has several scenes that paint him as entertaining character.

Rose Leslie’s portrayal of Chloe is disappointing. Audiences know she can do so much better, as evidenced by her wonderful recurring role in HBO’s “Game of Thrones” series. Her character Chloe is a poor juggling attempt between affably cute and a bossy jerk and just as inconsistently written as Diesel’s character.

The only characters that fit well into their archetypes are the two Dolans, but their characters are sorely underutilized.

The initial pacing is so slow, I honestly nearly fell asleep. Even when we did eventually get an action sequence, the excitement died too quickly for it to matter. Some of the action worked well, but other scenes meant to build suspense were mostly let downs with little to no payoff.

Some of the movie didn’t even make sense. Why did Kaulder decide to go up against dangerous enemies with only a sword when he has a vast arsenal of magical and practical weapons? I certainly don’t have the answer.

Overall, I think people will enjoy “The Last Witch Hunter” if they can make some compromises. I didn’t hate it, but I certainly didn’t like it either. It functions well as a fantasy-action film, but it misuses action set pieces, and its characters are poorly constructed. It might still serve as a treat for fans of the genre, but it certainly wouldn’t be my first recommendation.

Rating: 2/5 stars