In the Dark Ages, Kaulder (Diesel) hunts down witches with his group of witch hunters. They discover the lair of the Queen Witch and invade it to try and take her out before she unleashes the Black Death upon the world. They seemingly succeed, although Kaulder is cursed with immortality.
Fast forward to present day and Kaulder is now the last of his kind, ably assisted by a Dolan - a man of the cloth who helps the witch hunters a la Giles in Buffy. When his 36th Dolan (Caine) retires and is killed on the same day, he is replaced by the 37th (Wood). Tracking down the killer of the previous Dolan, the pair start piecing things together and realise there is more than meets the eye going on. Kaulder reluctantly receives assistance from a witch, Chloe (Leslie), in the investigation until it becomes clear that the Queen Witch may not have died after all.
There is so much CGI and unnecessary lens flare on show here, it’s as if the filmmakers knew that the thin storyline needed to be covered up by some gaudy effects. This is a prime example of CGI riding roughshod over a film rather than enhancing it. It’s flashy but dull. It may have been more interesting to keep the action in the past, even going through history as Kaulder has to move on from each Dolan, as they pass on from their own mortal coil. Instead, by rushing through to the present day, we are presented with a comfortable environment for the main character. Even the introduction of an adversary in the form of Belial (Olafsson) seems purely to fill screen time until the big reveal is made.
We are provided with a convoluted and confused plotline that appears to be the mixed up love child of a YA fantasy and an action vehicle devoid of any real action. It tries to make witches ugly and scary again, but fails miserably with its execution, probably due to its devotion to a lower age rating. There are moments that you feel like you are watching a mash-up between Beautiful Creatures and Babylon A.D.
The plot twists that are used can be seen coming a mile off and, as a result, there is no sense of tension or trepidation. For a fantasy horror, criminally, there are no genuine moments of horror or scares. A major monster that is there to challenge Kaulder is nothing more than a weak CGI creation. What is shocking is the complete waste of talent. Caine and Wood are completely underused in their roles.
A prime example of the studio system not understanding what was required at inception, hopefully this will be the last we see of this character.
THE LAST WITCH HUNTER / CERT: 12A / DIRECTOR: BRECK EISNER / SCREENPLAY: CORY GOODMAN, MATT SAZAMA, BURK SHARPLESS / STARRING: VIN DIESEL, ROSE LESLIE, ELIJAH WOOD, OLAFUR DARRI OLAFSSON, MICHAEL CAINE / RELEASE DATE: 7TH MARCH