Skip to main content

They call him "The Weapon".

The Last Witch Hunter
(2015)

(SPOILERS) Don’t you shake your gory locks at Vin, pestilent witch-hags, and definitely not when he’s sporting some proficiently hirsute wig-age himself. Something of a dream project for Vin (but aren’t they all?), being a big D&D fan (the big, bald, lovably nerdy schlub), and another of his doomed dreams for a franchise starter. No Vin, no one wants to see you non-Dom (well, I’d rather like to see you Riddicking-out again, but any chance of further escapades there seem done and dusted), I suspect not even xXx-ing. In this case, though, mostly because The Last Witch Hunter’s rather boring.


I like a good B-witch movie as much as the next person content to make light of the terrible injustices perpetrated through the Middle Ages and beyond by vilifying the old ways and accusing anyone who took one’s non-fancy of being one, but this isn’t among their number, alas. I’d much rather encore the daft but fun Nic Cage Season of the Witch. That at least was period-centric, and gave Nic a titan of hair tendrils. Here, Vin, wanting to play husky modern man Vin, can’t even be bothered to stay put. Before we know it, having defeated the Witch Queen (Julie Engelbrecht) and been cursed with immortality, like an even less expressive Connor McLeod, follicly flatulent McKaulder is given an extreme makeover, resurfacing with familiar shiny pate and in the old 21st, slaying dread witches (now a race, distinct from humans) for the saintly order of The Axe and Cross.


There’s an assortment of familiar faces lending support, from Michael Caine, well into his 80s but appealingly showing he’s as ready to swoop in for a payday and a payday only, the art be damned, as he was 30 years ago, playing Kaulder’s right-hand man (Vin unconvincingly refers to him as “kid”; they have zero rapport), to Elijah Wood as a slightly creepy priestly replacement (is there any other Wood role, aside from innocent; creepy tells you enough about the character’s ultimate destination, anyway), to Rose Leslie of Game of Thrones, the evidence suggesting she should steer clear of the posh accent (she looks like she’s having a devil of a time chewing on it), as a good witch. 


Occasionally, someone shows up and lends a touch of class, such as Isaach De Bankole’s blind dealer witch, but portly bad guy Belial (Olafur Darri Olafsson) isn’t fooling anyone that he’s a match for the Diesel (although his fake beard is equally fake looking, so there’s that).


Vin’s been here with doomed genre forays before, of course, such as the well-meaning but largely banal Babylon A.D. Witch Hunter likewise arrives laden with clichés. It comes as no surprise that the not-especially-interesting Witch Queen, the presumed vanquished foe of the first scene, wishes to stage a rematch, or that she does so in the company of a bucket load of CGI. Meanwhile Vin, despite 800 years to come to terms with his lot, is still doting over lost love, and annoyingly obsessed with taking a vision quest of which no good can come.


The Last Witch Hunter is blessed with a plot so undemanding, it’s difficult to summon any resolve trying to relate it, so I won’t even try. I don’t really blame director Breck Eisner (brought into replace Timur Bekmambetov), since his Crazies remake (already half a decade old) was really quite respectable. And Dean Semler ensures the visuals look forgettably proficient enough. No, mostly it’s the writers who warrant acrimony. I’ll hold off on criticising Cory Goodman, without anything else to compare against, whose Blacklist script got this moving, but the rewrite by Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless, go-to guys for shite fantasy vehicles (Dracula Untold, Gods of Egypt) is probably the chief culprit. That and the problem of Vin’s enthusiasm for different genres outweighing his adaptability. This is closer to Arnie taking on one of these sorts of roles in his late ‘90s-early ‘00s decline, and rather suggests an actor who mistakenly thinks he has the star power to get by through playing his own self-styled type.


Agree? Disagree? Mildly or vehemently? Let me know in the comments below.

Popular posts from this blog

Your Mickey Mouse is one big stupid dope!

Enemy Mine (1985) (SPOILERS) The essential dynamic of Enemy Mine – sworn enemies overcome their differences to become firm friends – was a well-ploughed one when it was made, such that it led to TV Tropes assuming, since edited, that it took its title from an existing phrase (Barry Longyear, author of the 1979 novella, made it up, inspired by the 1961 David Niven film The Best of Enemies ). The Film Yearbook Volume 5 opined that that Wolfgang Petersen’s picture “ lacks the gritty sauciness of Hell in the Pacific”; John Boorman’s WWII film stranded Lee Marvin and Toshiro Mifune on a desert island and had them first duking it out before becoming reluctant bedfellows. Perhaps germanely, both movies were box office flops.

No one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself.

The Matrix  (1999) (SPOILERS) Twenty years on, and the articles are on the defining nature of The Matrix are piling up, most of them touching on how its world has become a reality, or maybe always was one. At the time, its premise was engaging enough, but it was the sum total of the package that cast a spell – the bullet time, the fashions, the soundtrack, the comic book-as-live-action framing and styling – not to mention it being probably the first movie to embrace and reflect the burgeoning Internet ( Hackers doesn’t really count), and subsequently to really ride the crest of the DVD boom wave. And now? Now it’s still really, really good.

If I do nothing else, I will convince them that Herbert Stempel knows what won the goddam Academy Award for Best goddam Picture of 1955. That’s what I’m going to accomplish.

Quiz Show (1994) (SPOILERS) Quiz Show perfectly encapsulates a certain brand of Best Picture nominee: the staid, respectable, diligent historical episode, a morality tale in response to which the Academy can nod their heads approvingly and discerningly, feeding as it does their own vainglorious self-image about how times and attitudes have changed, in part thanks to their own virtuousness. Robert Redford’s film about the 1950s Twenty-One quiz show scandals is immaculately made, boasts a notable cast and is guided by a strong screenplay from Paul Attanasio (who, on television, had just created the seminal Homicide: Life on the Streets ), but it lacks that something extra that pushes it into truly memorable territory.

Say hello to the Scream Extractor.

Monsters, Inc. (2001) (SPOILERS) I was never the greatest fan of Monsters, Inc. , even before charges began to be levelled regarding its “true” subtext. I didn’t much care for the characters, and I particularly didn’t like the way Pixar’s directors injected their own parenting/ childhood nostalgia into their plots. Something that just seems to go on with their fare ad infinitum. Which means the Pixars I preferred tended to be the Brad Bird ones. You know, the alleged objectivist. Now, though, we learn Pixar has always been about the adrenochrome, so there’s no going back…

All the world will be your enemy, Prince with a Thousand Enemies.

Watership Down (1978) (SPOILERS) I only read Watership Down recently, despite having loved the film from the first, and I was immediately impressed with how faithful, albeit inevitably compacted, Martin Rosen’s adaptation is. It manages to translate the lyrical, mythic and metaphysical qualities of Richard Adams’ novel without succumbing to dumbing down or the urge to cater for a broader or younger audience. It may be true that parents are the ones who get most concerned over the more disturbing elements of the picture but, given the maturity of the content, it remains a surprise that, as with 2001: A Space Odyssey (which may on the face of it seem like an odd bedfellow), this doesn’t garner a PG certificate. As the makers noted, Watership Down is at least in part an Exodus story, but the biblical implications extend beyond Hazel merely leading his fluffle to the titular promised land. There is a prevalent spiritual dimension to this rabbit universe, one very much

Piece by piece, the camel enters the couscous.

The Forgiven (2021) (SPOILERS) By this point, the differences between filmmaker John Michael McDonagh and his younger brother, filmmaker and playwright Martin McDonagh, are fairly clearly established. Both wear badges of irreverence and provocation in their writing, and a willingness to tackle – or take pot-shots – at bigger issues, ones that may find them dangling their toes in hot water. But Martin receives the lion’s share of the critical attention, while John is generally recognised as the slightly lesser light. Sure, some might mistake Seven Psychopaths for a John movie, and Calvary for a Martin one, but there’s a more flagrant sense of attention seeking in John’s work, and concomitantly less substance. The Forgiven is clearly aiming more in the expressly substantial vein of John’s earlier Calvary, but it ultimately bears the same kind of issues in delivery.

Other monks will meet their deaths here. And they too will have blackened fingers. And blackened tongues.

The Name of the Rose (1986) (SPOILERS) Umberto Eco wasn’t awfully impressed by Jean Jacques-Annaud’s adaptation of his novel – or “ palimpsest of Umberto Eco’s novel ” as the opening titles announce – to the extent that he nixed further movie versions of his work. Later, he amended that view, calling it “ a nice movie ”. He also, for balance, labelled The Name of the Rose his worst novel – “ I hate this book and I hope you hate it too ”. Essentially, he was begrudging its renown at the expense of his later “ superior ” novels. I didn’t hate the novel, although I do prefer the movie, probably because I saw it first and it was everything I wanted from a medieval Sherlock Holmes movie set in a monastery and devoted to forbidden books, knowledge and opinions.

He tasks me. He tasks me, and I shall have him.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) (SPOILERS) I don’t love Star Trek , but I do love Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan . That probably isn’t just me, but a common refrain of many a non-devotee of the series. Although, it used to apply to The Voyage Home (the funny one, with the whales, the Star Trek even the target audience for Three Men and a Baby could enjoy). Unfortunately, its high regard has also become the desperate, self-destructive, song-and-verse, be-all-and-end-all of the overlords of the franchise itself, in whichever iteration, it seems. This is understandable to an extent, as Khan is that rare movie sequel made to transcendent effect on almost every level, and one that stands the test of time every bit as well (better, even) as when it was first unveiled.

You ever heard the saying, “Don’t rob the bank across from the diner that has the best donuts in three counties”?

2 Guns (2013) (SPOILERS) Denzel Washington is such a reliable performer, that it can get a bit boring. You end up knowing every gesture or inflection in advance, whether he’s playing a good guy or a bad guy. And his films are generally at least half decent, so you end up seeing them. Even in Flight (or perhaps especially in Flight ; just watch him chugging down that vodka) where he’s giving it his Oscar-nominatable best, he seems too familiar. I think it may be because he’s an actor who is more effective the less he does. In 2 Guns he’s not doing less, but sometimes it seems like it. That’s because the last person I’d ever expect blows him off the screen; Mark Wahlberg.

Maybe the dingo ate your baby.

Seinfeld 2.9: The Stranded The Premise George and Elaine are stranded at a party in Long Island, with a disgruntled hostess.