Movie Date: The Last Witch Hunter (PG13)
STARRING: Vin Diesel, Rose Leslie, Elijah Wood, Michael Caine, Julie Engelbrecht
DIRECTOR: Breck Eisner
THE SKINNY: Kaulder (Diesel) has been walking on earth for 700 years as a witch hunter after being cursed with immortality by the evil Witch Queen (Engelbrecht). His job is to maintain order in the witches’ community. But when her minions attempt to resurrect her and end all humanity, Kaulder finds himself having to break his rules and work with witch Chloe (Leslie) in order to kill the Queen once and for all.
MARS By JASON JOHNSON
This flick is a pleasant surprise.
I expected a simple-minded story, non-stop action and half-assed CGI.
I expected Diesel to be a dunderhead. Basically, I expected an average supernatural thriller.
What we get instead is a movie with a dash of panache.
I enjoy the fact that Diesel isn't going around just slaughtering every witch in sight. He is actually portrayed as a bit of a softie, sensitive to the plight of modern-day sorceresses.
He is as much a confidant and mentor as a hunter. In particular, his relationship with Leslie (Ygritte from Game Of Thrones) is nicely handled.
She is a witch, obviously, but she is able to see the good in him as he is able to see the good in her.
With their contrasting but complementary looks, the pair also look great together.
Come to think of it, the movie as a whole looks pretty amazing. The production design isn't too goth. It is just the right amount of goth.
There are some big cinematic jaw-droppers, like the mountain-size witch tree. There are some fun little fantasy flourishes, like Diesel's fire sword.
Perhaps what I liked best of all was the deliberate pacing, which reminded me of The Matrix.
Neat little twists, judicious sprinklings of humour, a worthy villain and a fun backstory. Some thought and care definitely went into this thing.
VENUS By JOANNE SOH
Diesel clearly wants to start a new franchise.
He attempted it with Riddick, which didn't take off. There is also his xXx series on the horizon.
But whether he can do it flying solo without his Fast And Furious clout is debatable.
I doubt he'll have much success with The Last Witch Hunter, a bloated attempt at making Diesel a cool ladies' man, one whose name brings much fear and awe among the witches, a man whose reputation precedes him.
Sure, he looks cool in black and fights well with his fists, guns and even a flaming sword.
But this imagery isn't anything new.
The issues surrounding Kaulder's loneliness and immortality are explored and are deftly handled by Diesel, with the aid of the venerable Caine.
The chemistry between Diesel and sidekick Leslie is also promising. Indeed, they make an attractive brawny-and-willowy pair.
However, instead of capitalising on all this, director Eisner goes for the easy kill - big, loud special effects.
The production is undeniably impressive and the premise of a good-versus-evil magical showdown is always appealing.
If there is ever going to be a sequel, one can only hope that Diesel, who also serves as producer, will make better use of his strengths - and I am not talking about his physical prowess.
THE CONSENSUS: The Last Witch Hunter will cast its spell on the guys. Not so much the girls.
Watch the trailer: