The Last Witch Hunter

The Last Witch Hunter

Posted on October 22, 2015 at 5:47 pm

Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for sequences of fantasy violence and frightening images
Profanity: A few bad words
Alcohol/ Drugs: Drinking, fantasy drugs
Violence/ Scariness: Extensive fantasy-style violence with many disturbing and grisly images
Diversity Issues: None
Date Released to Theaters: October 23, 2015
Copyright Summit Entertainment 2015
Copyright Summit Entertainment 2015

A witch would have to cast a spell over me to make me sit through this big, dumb, dull, dud again.

And that’s too bad, because I like Vin Diesel and I can easily be put in the mood for a good-stupid sword and sorcery epic. But not this one, which has a storyline we’ve seen before and dialog that sounds like it was written by people for whom English was not a first language, and probably not a second. It’s like a videogame, and not in a good way.

Diesel plays Kaulder, and we meet him 800 years ago, with long hair and a beard, he is part of a group determined to wipe out the witches who are responsible for the plague that has killed off many of their families, including Kaulder’s wife and daughter. “In her death lies our salvation.” “Let fear perish.” “You must go. You have to fight.” Not very memorable. Oh, let’s be real — it does not even qualify as dialog. It’s just talking.

With torches for light and swords, arrows, and axes for protection, they enter the witch’s cave. Things do not go very well and most of them are killed. Kaulder battles the witch, and as she dies, she curses him to live forever. We catch up with him in the present day, back to being the bald Vin Diesel we all know and love. He’s on an airplane being tossed around the sky by a fierce storm. He realizes that it is not only caused by magic but caused by someone who does not know she is causing it. A young witch with a backpack has carelessly tossed together ancient runes that should never be allowed to touch. (Kids!) “At least you didn’t get them wet,” he says, and we know that (1) the screenwriters have seen “Gremlins,” and (2) they’ll be wet before the end of the movie and the CGI folks will have a heck of a storm to kick up then.

The “Gremlin’s” idea is followed by a few borrowed from “Harry Potter,” “CSI,” and various other vastly superior sources, with some highly predictable twists and a sprinkling of semi-contemporary references. Well, the iPad reference is semi-contemporary. The use of the term “stewardess” and the assumption that they are all super-hot and excellent one-night-stand prospects is rather outmoded.

There are some pretty good special effects and some moderately good stunts, but Michael Caine is wasted as Kaulder’s human aide (about to retire, with Elijah Wood, also wasted, as his replacement). Rose Leslie has some nice moments as a young witch trying to make her way in New York, like she wandered off the set of “Girls.” Ultimately, the remixing of better (and just as bad) films becomes grating and by the time they set it up for a sequel, it is the audience is beginning to cursed for living long enough to sit through this film.

Translation: Sword and sorcery-style fantasy violence with some grisly and disturbing images including dead bodies, a few bad words and brief sexual references.

Family discussion: What would be the best and worst parts about living for 800 years? Why was it so hard for Kaulder to trust anyone?

If you like this, try: “Hansel and Gretel” and “Dragonslayer”

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Action/Adventure Epic/Historical Fantasy Movies -- format


Posted on December 29, 2009 at 8:00 am

An award-winning animated student film has been turned into a full-length feature with intricately-designed visuals but a story-line that feels stuck together with chewing gum and Scotch tape. Tim Burton protege Shane Acker has proven a better student of the letter of his mentor’s work than the spirit. Burton’s films are macabre, even grotesque. His characters may be haunted (literally or metaphorically), tortured (ditto), or murderous (ditto again), but they are as rich and complex as his strikingly imaginative visuals. Acker permits his images to overwhelm the story and the result is a film that is too dark for children and too thin for anyone else.

9 is a little burlap rag doll (voice of Elijah Wood) come to life who finds eight other doll-creatures who appear to be the only sentient survivors of an apocalypse that has extinguished all living things on earth. They are being stalked by the same murderous machines that wiped out their human creators and the movie’s greatest strength is the design and operation of these contraptions. Indeed, it is impossible not to think that the film is more interested in them than it is in its ostensible heroes.

The story keeps getting in the way of our connecting to the earnest little figures whose quest is murky at first and then undermined by an unsatisfying conclusion. “9” only gets a 6.

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Animation Fantasy Science-Fiction
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