Tuesday, October 27, 2015
The Homeless Nerd Reviews- The Last Witch Hunter
What Is It? A Dungeons and Dragons adventure brought to B-movie life on the big screen
Okay, I'm a die-hard, life-long gamer. I love pen and paper RPGs. In fact, they are one of the few things I really feel strongly about. But I will be the first to admit that, weather home-brew or professional, they do not tend to have the most compelling or well-crafted plots. I've read lots of books based on RPGs starting with Gygax's Gord the Rogue series through some Forgotten Realms and Eberron books, detouring through Arena for Magic the Gathering and even the couple of Top Secret S.I. novels. None are what I would consider great fiction like Brandon Sanderson or Brent Weeks. Just like with a game at the table, RPG-based stories tend to wander a little. Now, for RPGs this is not such a big deal- the fun is in making the decisions and exploring the world, you generally are not expecting a tight and emotionally deep plot with so many cooks in the stew. But when it comes to novels and movies, well, you generally want something just a bit more refined.
Which leads me to The Last Witch Hunter. This is a lot like a D&D adventure, which means it does not hang together as well as a movie should. A lot of the screen time feels like it is chasing something that while a key part of the plot, does not really feel that dramatic or compelling. There are enough explanations for everything, but none feel very well fleshed-out. I really walked away with the feeling that there was a great movie buried in there somewhere, but it just was not quite executed right. So many events could have been very interesting, but did not feel like they were set up. There is a betrayal, but I had honestly forgotten that character was even in the movie - betrayal scenes only have an emotional beat if you are attached to the betraying character. Not the character being betrayed, no, the character doing the betraying - that is where the real emotional punch is for the audience. And the final plot hinges on being merciful and that mercy coming back to bite the characters in the posterior - which just did not really get set up with the right groundwork to have an emotional payoff. So many things that were close, were good ideas, just not built right. It actually reminded me a lot of Tomorrowland, another movie I thought had great concepts buried under poor execution.
I did like Vin Deisel, thought he did a fine job with his character. Rose Leslie was a really cool sassy street witch. Michael Caine was in the movie, in a cameo basically. And no one else left that much of an impression. But the best character of all was the sword. There are not many flaming swords in film, and the effect does not always look that cool. A good flaming sword should be as awesome as a lightsaber, and in Last Witch Hunter the sword is awesome, looks perfect, and honestly was a big part of why I went to see the movie. The sword deserved more screen time.
My recommendation- wait for it to come out on cable, it's good enough for passing a lazy afternoon