The Last Witch Hunter

 

star

 


 In this demonic dud, producer Vin Diesel is defeated by the special effects.

   

Last Witch Hunter

Thin: Vin 

 

In the shadow of Spectre opening on Monday, this would appear to be the worst week of the cinematic year. Now that the summer blockbusters have cleaned up at the box-office and with the Oscar contenders gathering momentum in the wings, it’s a scheduling dead zone. A good time, then, to dish out Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension and The Last Witch Hunter, pre-Thanksgiving turkeys both. One would like to feel sorry for Vin Diesel for ending up in this computer-generated headache, but as he co-produced the thing we can but hiss and boo.

 

He plays ‘Kaulder,’ an indestructible monolith who has been hunting witches for 800 years. The ‘Alfred’ to his Batman is Michael Caine, a wise old priest who prefers physical Bibles to iPads, the better to swat pesky insects. There are a lot of bugs in Breck Eisner’s The Last Witch Hunter, and they make a lot of noise as they crawl out of unexpected places or flutter around fabricated illusions. In fact, there’s a lot of noise – and jarring sound effects – in this overblown fantasy, which feels like a videogame stretched to 106 interminable minutes.

 

Set in a largely nocturnal New York, the film relies on slurpy, tentacled CGI for its diabolic effects, which get tiresome after the first four minutes. The actors – including Elijah Wood, Rose Leslie and Isaach De Bankolé – tend to talk in statements rather than free-flowing dialogue, as the three scriptwriters seem to be averse to normal conversation. The best Vin Diesel can manage in one colloquy is, “This is different. This is dark magic. Beyond evil.” Sadly, there are no broomsticks at dawn, or Samantha Stephens wiggling her nose, just amorphous old crones conjured up by the special effects department.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Vin Diesel, Elijah Wood, Rose Leslie, Julie Engelbrecht, Michael Caine, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Rena Owen, Isaach De Bankolé.

 

Dir Breck Eisner, Pro Mark Canton, Vin Diesel and Bernie Goldmann, Screenplay Cory Goodman, Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless, Ph Dean Semler, Pro Des Julie Berghoff, Ed Chris Lebenzon and Dean Zimmerman, Music Steve Jablonsky, Costumes Luca Mosca.

 

Mark Canton Productions/One Race Films/Goldmann Pictures-Entertainment One.

106 mins. USA/China/Canada. 2015. Rel: 21 October 2015. Cert. 12A.