Review: ‘The Last Witch Hunter’ Is, Sadly, Not Even the Best Worst Movie of the Year
What if Dom Toretto of the Fast & Furious franchise was actually a centuries-old immortal witch hunter named Koulder? After being trapped on Earth for 800 years, he discovered the thrill of street racing. Driving off cliffs, barreling through burning planes were the daredevil stunts that kept his sense of adventure alive once the evil witches went into hiding. But still, not even a nitro boost could compare to battling dark magic. Now that his best racing buddy Brian has retired and the fate of mankind is at stake with the return of evil witches, it’s time for Dom to return to his old life as Koulder, the last witch hunter.
Sounds solid, right? That’s at least the theory I came up with after seeing The Last Witch Hunter to try and justify the 106 minutes spent watching this Vin Diesel fantasy dud. In it, Diesel spends a lot of time doing a lot of ridiculous things. In one early scene he saves a plane from crashing by rubbing a bunch of crystals together to change the storming weather outside. He’s able to save the day when he finds the young emo witch on board causing the danger, all thanks to a handy witch-finding compass he creates with his breath. (Note: If you’re ever looking for a nearby witch, just breathe on glass.)
The Last Witch Hunter is probably best enjoyed as one of those 9th grade date movies. The ones where you pick the next non-sold out showing of a movie starring familiar actors to make out during, thus not suffering from missing plot points. I did this once with Van Helsing, the 2004 vampire equivalent of The Last Witch Hunter. Both have Blockbuster staples fighting monsters, a pretty goth female co-star (this time it’s Game of Thrones’ Rose Leslie) defined by her feisty independence but undercut by her need to be rescued and an eye-numbing amount of CG. But unlike Van Helsing, Breck Eisner’s magical film attempts to gain a level of prestige by rounding out its cast with Michael Caine. (Oh Michael Caine, why?)
Caine plays Dolan the 36th, a priest who helps Diesel’s Kaulder capture all the bad witches in New York City – apparently priests are the witch police. Kaulder’s wife and daughter were killed by black magic (or something) 800 years ago, and he was cursed with immortality by the evil Witch Queen (an actual character) before he killed her way-back-when. But now, life isn’t too bad for him. He’s the type of guy that takes home gorgeous flight attendants, leaves the top two buttons of his collared shirts undone, has a penthouse overlooking Central Park and drives a Tesla (see, totally Dom!).
A bunch of bizarre-for-the-sake-of-being-imaginative stuff happens in The Last Witch Hunter, much of it making little sense, and some of it that probably made sense but I hadn’t the energy to figure it out. At one point Kaulder goes to a popular New York bakery where insects are turned into decadent cupcakes (why?). Later, he goes to a fashion show where the models use their witch powers to conceal wrinkles and scars. There’s also a dream bar where Leslie’s good witch, Chloe, also a dream walker, concocts dream cocktails for her customers – essentially an Inception rip-off. In case you were wondering if this was anything like Harry Potter, there’s also a witch prison, revealed when a very serious Caine says emphatically, “The witch prison!”
The Last Witch Hunter probably sounds pretty great, as far as bad movies go. An enjoyably awful movie is always a good time, especially in a theater full of people eager to laugh at terrible dialogue and extravagant failures. But as bad as The Last Witch Hunter is and as laughable as Diesel looks in a 13th century braided beard, it isn’t delightfully bad enough to revel in. Out of 2015's worst movies, the Wachowski’s Jupiter Ascending is a disastrous mess I’d recommend, and even rewatch. The Last Witch Hunter, though, is best left unseen.