THE LAST WITCH HUNTER
The Last Witch Hunter may have sat on the Hollywood Black List but it is apparent that whoever purchased the script were less impressed with the story possibilities and always had intentions of turning it into a big effects vehicle. This surely becomes evident by the selection of Timur Bekmambetov as the previous director the man who made Night Watch (2004), Wanted (2008) and Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter (2012) and is increasingly proving he is full of only hyper-kinetic moves and empty-headed action movie eye candy, followed by his replacement by Breck Eisner.
Somewhere in there you cannot help but feel that there was the possibility that The Last Witch Hunter could have made a good film. It comes with a rich, resonant background mythology. I kept being reminded of Warlock (1989) and its similar spinning out of a magic based on old wives tales and hexes. I could easily have imagined The Last Witch Hunter working with the dark gritty edge, the wry and hard-bitten hero and complex demonology of tvs late lamented Constantine (2014-5). There have also been a bunch of screen works in the last few years that have dabbled in the idea of an urban-set epic fantasy, although these have only ended up with middling results with the likes of The Sorcerers Apprentice (2010) and The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (2013).
Alas, all that we get is a ponderous effects vehicle that rarely ever comes to life. You can see some of it is there in the script but at all opportunities the film is being upstaged by effects set-pieces the witch transforming into various people and objects; swarms of bees; Olafur Darn Olafsson turning into a tree and disappearing through floors and walls; the ramshackle jailor creature; the great Michael Caine wasted playing an undead corpse for most of the film; fights with flaming swords. None of it seems to add anything to the film and seems like flash that can be forgotten the moment the scene is over. Nor is it anything that disguises what a ponderous and uninteresting film that you end up with.
Vin Diesel could have won the role over but all we get is Diesel back in cocky hotshot mode where he seems to regard himself as far cooler than anybody else present. Breck Eisner simply fails to animate the character in say the way that David Twohy transformed Diesel into a lethally contained presence in the Riddick films and only leaves his non-acting presence up there on screen for us to see.