Quality: This score indicates entertainment value.
0 stars is horrible, while 5 stars is spectacular.
Political: This score addresses political messaging.
0 stars is aggressively anti-Conservative, while 5 stars is highly pro-Conservative. 3 stars is apolitical.
Moral/Religious (M/R): This score addresses moral and religious messaging.
0 stars is either intensely immoral or all-out, needless assault on Christianity. 5 stars is either great moral messaging or highly pro-Christian. 3 stars is inoffensive either way.
Quality – 2 stars, Political – 3 stars, M/R – 1.5 stars
And these aren’t just any witches. No, no! Employing impressive CGI, these covens wield a dazzling array of visual horrors. They blow crystalline fire. They insta-grow tree branches and roots over victims. Obeying their commands, swarms of flies move in spectacular patterns. And naturally, this all occurs in darkness and shadows.
But herein lies a problem, for much of the action transpires against drab, dismal backgrounds. It’s all just a bit too…dark. And this muddles the action. And characters. And story. I felt like I was dreaming about watching my latest nightmare while drunk.
Vin Diesel plays Kaulder, an ageless witch hunter who has spent the past 8 centuries bringing down these ultra-baddies. Cool as always, Vin’s up to the task—and he’s got help. Assisting his enduring quest is a Catholic Priest with the designation, “Dolan.” Michael Caine plays Dolan 36, Kaulder’s longtime friend who is finally retiring, while “Don’t-call-me-Frodo” Elijah Wood plays the youthful Dolan 37. Apparently, Kaulder needs a priest at his side.
(If this sounds like a “Van Helsing” ripoff, that’s only because it’s a “Van Helsing” ripoff)
Cursed by the Witch Queen at her death centuries ago, Kaulder must forever live “without really living”—a concept we grow to understand the longer we watch this film.
The Witch Queen is a muddy mess of a villain. Though other witches are shown freely altering their appearance, this all-powerful vixen (actress/model Julie Engelbrecht) can’t, for some reason. It’s crazy. Hiding beyond public view, she skulks about with skin peeling, drooping from her face and arms. She looks like a snake in mid-shed—or Madonna standing too close to a heat lamp. At any rate, she’s just too icky and goopy to really, you know, despise. I half wanted to start a GoFundMe account for her condition.
Rounding out the cast is Chloe (Rose Leslie); Hollywood’s latest obligatory example of a well-meaning witch. Chloe’s cute and visionary, but why can’t movies just let witches be bad anymore? I don’t recall seeing thoughtful, misunderstood sharks in “Jaws,” and the absence of jolly old Orcs in “Lord of the Rings” provided a reassuring consistency. But witches? We always need some good ones. It’s like a Wiccan somewhere has little dolls of every Hollywood producer, hovering over a flame.
Gotta get me one of those.
Anyway, “The Last Witch Hunter” has plenty of action, special effects, and dark, oogity-boogity chills for this holiday season—but without the heart (which is ironic, as it contains an actual beating heart). It’s just too difficult to embrace the characters, or care what happens to them.
My advice? Rent “Van Helsing,” or a true Vin Diesel masterpiece, “Pitch Black.” Guys, dress like Count Dracula. Girls, dress like Megyn Kelly. Halloween comes but once a year, so you might as well enjoy it.