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Film review: The Last Witch Hunter - Vin Diesel’s dreadful fantasy debut

Cliché-riddled dialogue and over-reliance on special effects mar this "tiresome" film

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 October, 2015, 6:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 October, 2015, 6:00am

“Eight hundred years I’ve been on this road,” intones Vin Diesel. “Always hunting, always...” Alone, adds co-star Rose Leslie, plugging the gap with all the originality of an iPhone’s predictive text. Not that you should be surprised by the cliché-riddled dialogue in this tiresome fantasy film – a world of spells, incantations, necromancers and meaningless mumbo-jumbo meant to pass as exotic.

Cursed with immortality after destroying a venomous witch queen, Diesel’s Kaulder has spent the past eight centuries stalking the Earth to destroy witches who practise dark magic. But when his priest friend (Michael Caine) is left for dead, it sets him on a trail in modern-day New York that suggests the all-powerful witch queen is about to be resurrected.

Those who may or may not be out to help him include Elijah Wood’s rookie man of the cloth and Leslie’s potion-conjuring “dream-walker”, who has the ability to enter the unconscious. Directed by Breck Eisner, who cut his horror teeth on the 2010 remake of George Romero’s The Crazies, the script has been co-written by Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless, who penned last year’s equally risible vampire reboot Dracula Untold.  

Like that film, The Last Witch Hunter suffers from an over-reliance on digital effects which diminishes any attempt to scare. The cast are largely perfunctory, even Caine, who spends most of the film comatose, summing up the overall acting style. Diesel, growling his lines in that usual bass-register of his, hasn’t made a fantasy movie before – and judging by this effort he probably shouldn’t again.

The Last Witch Hunter opens on October 22