The Last Witch Hunter
by Christie Robb
Perhaps it’s for the best that I find it nearly impossible to understand the words that come out of Vin Diesel’s mouth. The man sounds like my half-broken garbage disposal when I try to run a bunch of coffee grounds through it.
I don’t think a greater understanding of the dialogue would have significantly improved my enjoyment of the Last Witch Hunter, though. The strength of this supernatural/detective/action movie lies in the visuals.
800 years ago a vaguely Viking looking guy named Kaulder (Diesel) took on a Witch Queen and won, getting cursed by her with immortality in the process. Fast forward to modern day and we catch up with him. He’s older, a collector of art (and apparently of stewardesses), and working with an organization called the Axe and Cross to keep the peace between witches and humanity, making sure that magic isn’t used against humans.
He’s aided by a retiring handler, Dolan the 36th (Michael Caine), who, on the eve of his retirement, is attacked using prohibited magic. With the help of the replacement Dolan the 37th (Elijah Wood) and good witch Chloe (Rose Leslie), Kaulder must unravel a nefarious plot by bad witches to bring back the Black Plague, force muggle society to its knees, and return the earth to its more natural state.
Let’s set aside the fact that Diesel is completely unconvincing as an 800 year-old man. He seems entirely too well-adjusted and jovial to have seen over 30 handlers die on him.
The plot of the movie is also rather thin. Not enough time is spent explaining the politics of the Axe and Cross, the Witch/Muggle peace process, or the exact rules of “immortality.” However, that time is instead spent on visual effects that range from the grotesque (plague flies squirming around just under the skin), the beautifully stark (an ancient tree set against snowcapped peaks), the whimsical (a witch cocktail bar), and the action-y (flaming swords against enchanted beasts made of wood and bits of human carcass).
Like Vin Diesel, the movie is enjoyable enough to look at. Just don’t spend too much time trying to understand it.