Free Press Journal

Movie Review: The Last Witch Hunter – Supernatural thrills & spills


Cast: Vin Diesel, Michael Caine,Rose Leslie, Elijah Wood, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson

Director: Breck Eisner

Your reviewer is waiting, patiently, for a movie that will hopefully, squash once and for all, the myth about witches. As far back as the 4th century, St Augustine of Hippo argued that witchcraft was impossible since God alone could overturn the laws of the universe.Even the late medieval Church had accepted the theologian-saint’s view, but this did not stop heresies which resulted in the killing of “witches.”Significantly, 80% of those hanged/burnt at the stake for witchcraft were women. The Enlightenment (ie reason and humanity) stopped the persecution of witches in the West, though it’s a different story closer home with reports, mercifully infrequent, of women, usually from poverty-stricken rural areas, being killed for witchcraft.  Gravelly-voiced Vin Diesel is the titular hero in this supernatural fantasy thriller which starts with a voice over narration telling viewers that witches have existed alongside humans since the  beginning of time (ha ha:-). The story begins in the Dark ages with Kaulder (Diesel) leading a team of witch hunters to find the Witch Queen (Julie Engelbrecht) who has been responsible for many ills, including the Black Death plague.

Dream-like flashbacks show us the grief-stricken Kaulder yearning for his beloved wife and daughter who were killed by the witch.In a fight to the finish with the Witch,Kaulder finds himself cursed with immortality.

Cut to the present day in New York City where we see he has allied himself with The Axe and Cross, an ancient secret priestly organization that upholds the truce between man and witches. A priest, the 36th Dolan(Michael Caine) to give him his title is Kaulder’s friend,philosopher and guide. “Find someone (to love)” he tells Kaulder whose relationships seem to be confined to sexcapades with air hostesses, just before he is murdered by the Queen witch’s wicked henchman Belial ( Olafir Darri Olafsson)”Alone. I’ve been alone these 800 years” Kaulder tells a good witch (Rose Leslie) and it’s not a line he’s maraoing her.  Now Kaulder,the naïve new successor Dolan (Elijah Wood, earnest) and the good witch form an unlikely team that investigates a conspiracy that threatens to resurrect the Witch. As it turns out memory holds the key, the memory of a crucial moment forgotten by Kaulder during his battle with the Witch Queen.

The action scenes are OK (Diesel does far far better in his Fast and Furious series) But the production design, CGI, special effects, and make-up deserve an ‘A’, for portraying a world where magic lurks round the corner. Kaulder wields an Excalibur-like sword and even smiles a bit, a far cry from his unsmiling Fast and Furious persona.  But he remains as tough and intensely likeable as ever.Which is a very good reason for watching The Last Witch Hunter and hoping it will spark a vastly more exciting sequel  more scenes with Caine, spoiler alert 🙂