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Chris Kavan's Movie Reviews (3226)

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The Last Witch Hunter 
Diesel Flexes Fantasy Muscles
2.5/4 stars

I wouldn't think that I would have anything in common with Vin Diesel. But, as it turns out, we're both huge nerds who are really into D&D. How much does Diesel like the fantasy game? So much so that he taught Dame Judi Dench how to play on the set of Chronicles of Riddick. So much that he based the main character in The Last Witch Hunter on one of his favorite in-game characters he created. Now that, my friends, is dedication.

That character is Kaulder who, in the opening of the film, is traveling with his brothers in The Cross and Sword to take down The Witch Queen (Julie Engelbrecht), who is responsible for The Black Death (and not questionable hygiene). It doesn't take long for things to go wrong as all sorts of terrible traps and hidden creatures attack. Of course, Kaulder ends up in a showdown with the queen and just as he delivers the fatal blow she "curses" him with eternal life. Thus we flash forward to Kaulder on a plane where he finds a modern witch (yes, totally goth-looking) and proceeds to take away a powerful artifact that is causing the weather to nearly bring down the plane. Turns out, most witches aren't so bad anymore. Sure, they still have incredible power, but thanks to a truce, they no longer use it on humans and keep pretty much to themselves.

Kaulder's current handler is Dolan the 36th (the always proper Michael Caine) who has served well - being on of the few who Kaulder considers a friend. He is about to pas along his duties to the 37th Dolan (Elijah Wood) when things start to take a turn for the worse. Breaking the truce, the old Dolan is attacked and cursed - near death - and the culprit seems to be a rogue warlock (yes, guys can be witches too) Belial (”lafur Darri ”lafsson) but Kaulder is left a cryptic message to return to where he died, thus he seeks out a witch who can give him a memory potion and finds the bar of Chloe (Rose Leslie - known likely for her roll on Game of Thrones) who is hesitant but ultimately willing to help.

The Last Witch Hunter plays it somewhat safe as the PG-13 rating holds the fantasy-action film back, but it is still enjoyable. Diesel actually looks like he's having a good time - most of the time (in the Riddick or Fast and Furious films) he is a loner - outcast - or dealing with loss. In Last Witch Hunger, he's macking on stewardesses and saving the world from evil. Granted, his nickname "The Weapon" doesn't make one think of rainbows and kittens, but this is role he embraces and even smiles from time to time.

The effects are solid - fire magic, transformation and the dream sequences all lend themselves well to the story. This is nature-based magic for the most part - far removed from the wands of Harry Potter and whole different beast all together. The cast is likewise fun to watch - Leslie has the same fire she showed in Game of Thrones while Wood tows the line between eagerness and caution. Caine is always good for adding some power.

If you are a fan of the fantasy genre, The Last Witch Hunter is a good choice. Yes, it could have pushed a little more, but in the end this live-action D&D fantasy gets enough right that it's worth a watch. Have fun with it - we'll see if Diesel gets to reprise his role in the future.


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