Every now and then, I see a movie that I feel like would have been done better as a TV show. It’s usually a movie with a decent plot and a decent lead, but not really enough power to play well on the big screen. I feel like if The Last Witch Hunter has been a TV pilot, instead of a movie, I’d probably be adding it to my already overfilled schedule of television shows to watch.
Before you find that too impressive, it should be noted that the vast majority of my shows that I watch now include screaming housewives, food trucks, or housewives screaming at food trucks. I don’t really have high TV standards.
But I will say it’s good, and it’s a good choice for Vin Diesel. He plays Kaulder, an 800+ year old warrior whose job is hunting down and killing witches who want to unleash all kind of nastiness on humanity. The movie starts off well enough, right around the time Kaulder kills the evil witch queen and gets cursed with immortality. The next time we see him, he’s wandering around a modern world with his sidekick Dolan the 36th (Michael Caine) who is almost immediately replaced with Dolan the 37th, (Elisha Wood) as the new sidekick. Then, they get word that the evil witches are planning on resurrecting the witch queen, Kaulder deals with some kind of witch hunter Alzheimer’s and Dolan the 37th tries to prove he’s just as awesome as Dolan the 36th.
This is a safe role for Vin Diesel. It doesn’t require him in any way to step of his Stalone-esque comfort zone. He stomps around, kicking butt and looking broody. It’s a good role for him. Wood is equally wide eyed and eager. There’s nothing wrong with their performances, but they hardly qualify as hard roles to fill, being written a bit one dimensionally.
The reason I say this would make a better series is because they tried to cram way too much into this movie. Witches, curses, memory problems, allies, foes, world building, everything is far too much for one simple film and an as a result, becomes really hard to follow. They throw in a “twist” at the end that doesn’t really inspire shock, because most aren’t going to be sure what’s going on anyway.
The storyline could have used a bit more simplicity. It feels like they’re setting the scene for a series, and it’s a safe franchise for Diesel. The problem is they could have afforded to leave a bit out. It got to be too much.
It also seemed like a strange timing for the release. October is traditionally Oscar Bait season, summer’s for blockbusters and January/February is for middle of the road series starters. This would have worked better as a January/February release.
It’s not terrible, but it’s not that memorable either. It’s clear that this was a project of passion for Diesel, the problem is it’s being met with a lukewarm reception. I think a bit more time spent on the screenplay could have really done something for this film. I will say it’s worth the watch, but I don’t think I’d watch the sequel.
WE GAVE IT : 3 STARS! Watch the Official Trailer and See the Official Movie Poster below