It’s fairly easy to divide the films of Vin Diesel into two camps; there are the all out action blockbusters (i.e. The Fast and the Furious series) that are the modern-day definition of high concept cinema, and then there are the personal interest oddities.
Unlike many other actor/producers, rather than being small-scale indie style fare these seem to fall in the area of sci-fi and fantasy that could be equally as high concept as his other work.
With that in mind The Last Witch Hunter falls firmly into the latter camp and seems to build on some of what was attempted in The Chronicles of Riddick in terms of Diesel’s own interests in and around character and role-playing games, with this being loosely based on ideas from Dungeons & Dragons.
With the quality of the past official Dungeons & Dragons films that could easily be taken as a kind of warning, but thankfully that isn’t needed here quite so much.
The story revolves around Diesel’s titular hero and his attempts to rid the world of the Queen of Witches and her minions.
With this plot it takes a fairly standard idea but plays with it by setting it in the modern-day, giving it a hint of Blade and Buffy The Vampire Slayer, albeit without any of the inherent wit of the latter or all out martial arts action of the former.
The plot is reasonably well constructed and things move along at a decent pace although there are moments that get a bit bogged down in an over abundance of lore and therefore exposition that could certainly easily turn off anyone without a pre-existing interest.
While the dialogue is, at best, a bit on the laboured side and Diesel is typically wooden (though that suits his stoic hero, much as it does in The Fast and The Furious and other films) the rest of the cast do their best in a ‘we’re here for fun and a pay day’ kind of way.
Michael Caine, Elijah Wood and Game of Throne’s Rose Lesley all do their admirable utmost not to come across as too ridiculous – though it’s hard to avoid the sense of ‘fantasy show’ typecasting around Lesley and Caine seems to be able to deliver these kind of ageing surrogate father figure type roles in his sleep.
With special effects that are certainly good enough (if unspectacular) and while it certainly has a straight to DVD quality about it, The Last Witch Hunter is a reasonably entertaining way to spend a couple of hours.
Though its strongly hinted at sequel may not be as forthcoming as it seems the filmmakers would like, and I’m unlikely to revisit it this, with the right expectations in place there are far worse films of this style around (see In The Name Of The King and its ilk).