Something insipid this way comes…
Vin Diesel makes his first foray into fantasy filmmaking with The Last Witch Hunter, a film spawned from his love of Dungeons & Dragons. Given the end result, you rather wish Diesel had been into Monopoly, Cluedo or Snakes & Ladders – surely any of these board game staples would’ve provided a better basis for a film.
Directed by Breck Eisner, who last pitched up with the 2010 remake of George Romero’s The Crazies, The Last Witch Hunter is a perfunctory scare-fest drowning in digital effects but entirely lacking in charisma. Co-scripted a trio of writers – two of whom penned last year’s equally toothless Dracula Untold – it toplines Diesel as Kaulder, a medieval warrior cursed with immortality just as he vanquishes the pestilence-spreading Witch Queen.
One credit sequence – and 800 years – later, we’re in modern-day New York. Kaulder, who previously looked like he took his hair-care tips from Lord Of The Rings’ resident dwarf Gimli, is now bald, buff and spends his spare time seducing air hostesses. He’s also employed by a Witch Counsel to hunt down naughty necromancers who practise dark magic (to a seemingly oblivious public).
When Kaulder’s priest advisor (Michael Caine) is left spell-stricken, he follows a trail that eventually suggests a ploy to resurrect the Witch Queen. Along for the ride is Caine’s well-meaning replacement (Elijah Wood) and a good witch named Chloe (Game Of Thrones’ Rose Leslie), who spends her days running a dark arts club that wouldn’t look out of place at a Cure concert.
As the story plods along, Eisner fills the screen with icky visuals, but they rarely get under the skin. Some ideas are promising, like a bakery feeding its patrons with maggot-riddled cakes, but never really developed. While the dialogue proves as wooden as a box of crucifixes, the performances, bar a lively turn from This Is England’s Joseph Gilgun, are largely moribund. Let us pray this is a one-off.