Blu-ray Review: The Last Witch Hunter

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The Last Witch Hunter, now on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD via Lionsgate, will likely try the patience of even the most die-hard of Vin Diesel's fans. Apparently inspired by Diesel's own Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game character, Witch Hunter has all the bells and whistles of a major league blockbuster. But the story is simply incoherent. Opening in ancient times, this effects-driven fantasy introduces us to Kaulder (Diesel). Amidst a flurry of action, Kaulder is "cursed" with immortality and tasked with hunting down the evil, humanity-hating Witch Queen (Julie Engelbrecht).

Flashing-forward to present day, we meet Kaulder's personal guardian, a so-called "Dolan" (a priest, basically) played by Michael Caine. Kaulder trusts his 36th Dolan like family, but alas the elderly Dolan is retiring. Enter Elijah Wood as the much younger 37th Dolan. Turns out that Dolan 36th has apparently been murdered, thereby instigating a quite literal "witch hunt" as Number 37 works with Kaulder to solve the mystery.

If this stuff sounds even vaguely intriguing, by all means acquire a copy of The Last Witch Hunter posthaste. But honestly this is one big, expensively-produced mess of ideas. The trailer seemed to indicate a sly sense of humor, but that's mostly absent from mercifully tight 106-minute running time (relatively speaking, considering the abundance of two-hour-plus action flicks). There's a number of sorta cool sequences, including an early one that finds Kaulder on a packed commercial jetliner. A clumsy, ill-trained witch has inadvertently mixed numerous elements, resulting in a potentially disastrous electrical storm outside. But sequences like this (i.e. relatively subtle, moderately clever) are too few.
last witch hunter BD cover (318x380).jpg Awesome audio/visual specs help make Lionsgate's Blu-ray presentation easily recommendable from a purely technical standpoint. The $90 million budget bought a lot of CG effects and an intricate audio mix. The 1080p transfer of Academy Award-winner Dean Semler's (Dances With Wolves) digital cinematography is outstanding. So is the DTS-HD MA 7.1 surround mix, which that never manages to bore (despite the movie it's trying to prop up).

Special features: director's commentary by Breck Eisner (The Crazies 2010), a decent 30-minute promotional featurette, four animated shorts narrated by Michael Caine, and a short "sizzle reel" highlights montage set to a cover of the Rolling Stones' "Paint It, Black."

Unless you live or die by Vin Diesel films, The Last Witch Hunter is easily skippable. Rewatch your favorite Fast film instead.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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